The Local Flora (a brief primer)
The montane grassland is host to alpine and sub alpine species. The best viewings are generally experienced at higher altitudes from November till April. Tiffindell usually puts on a good show in early December and Naudesnek is at its best in February.
The area is located above the tree line and the Ouhoud, Leucosidea sericea and parsley tree, Heteromorpha arborescens are the only real indigenous trees. The Karee Searsia, Blinkblaar Rhamnus prinoides and Buddlejas fill the shrub niche.
As a response to our harsh conditions and short growing season there are many geophytic plants, those with bulbs,corms,rhizomes and tubers. Some of the genera one may encounter are Gladiolus, Moraea and Dierama.
In February Gladiolus saundersii which has large red blooms with white throat makings can even be seen around the village while the spectacular G.oppositiflorus more at home along the escarpment.
Of the Moraeas or Vlei irises M.huttonii is encountered in stream beds and massed displays of M.alticola can viewed at higher altitudes in December.
Dierama are known as angels’s fishing rods and the most spectacular species D.Robustum ,which can be two meters tall, is prolific in the summer months.
There are at least seven species of Kniphofia or red hot pokers, these flower at overlapping times and are pollinated by the Malachite sunbirds and mountain fancy butterflies. The early flowering (November) K. northiae is the largest and grows along the headwater stream banks and massed K. Caulescens can be seen below Tiffindell in February.
One sees grey leaved bushes with yellow flowers growing along the roadside, the blossoms feel like paper and are colloquially known as everlastings, these are members of the Helichrysum genus.
Possibly the most spectacular are the terrestial Orchids, among them, members of the Disa, Satyrium, Brownleea, Huttonea and Disperis genera with the best sightings in February, The orchids are restricted to higher areas because they require higher UV levels and can handle being covered with snow but not frost as experienced at lower levels.
The higher UV levels at altitude make it imperative that visitors cover up or use sun screen when going up into the mountains.
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