For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Caterpillar Pod (Ormocarpum trichocarpum)

Family Papilionoideae
A small shrub or tree growing to about 3m in height.
The fruit resembles caterpillars and is easily identified by them.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mother of millions (Bryophyllum delagoense)

Family Crassulaceae
A small succulent with red flowers.
An invasive plant from Madagascar and should not be cultivated.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Forest Fever Tree (Anthocleista grandiflora)

Family Loganiaceae
A slender tree growing to 30m in height with large leaves and found in only a few isolated spots.
The large flowers are creamy-white and so high up in the tree that you cannot get decent pictures of it.
The wood is soft and brittle and marked with horseshoe-shaped air-holes.
A decoction of the leaves is used as a remedy for malaria and the bark is chewed to relieve diarrhoea.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Red Pineapple Flower

Family Bromelaid
This is a cultivar for the gardens from the normal pineapple plant and not edible.
For more information on pineapples and how to grow them, please go to: http://saphotographs.blogspot.com/2008/09/pineapples_30.html

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Christmas Berry (Chironia purpurascens)

Family Gentianaceae
No information is available on them except that they seem to grow in wetlands.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Custard Apple (Annona senegalensis)

Family Annonaceae
Annona senegalensis, commonly known as African custard-apple, wild custard apple, and wild soursop, is a species of flowering plant in the custard apple family, Annonaceae. The specific epithet, senegalensis, translates to mean "of Senegal", the country where the type specimen was collected.
A traditional food plant in Africa, the fruits of A. senegalensis have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land care. Well known where it grows naturally, it is largely unheard of elsewhere.
 Uses

The primary use of this versatile plant is for food, but it has applications in numerous aspects of human endeavor, and every part of the plant has unique properties and uses.

The flowers, leaves and fruit are edible and culinary: white fruit pulp has a mild, pineapple-like flavor. Flowers are added to spice or garnish meals; leaves are eaten by humans as vegetables, or browsed by livestock. Leaves are also part of the diet of the West African giraffe.

The leaves are also used to create a general health tonic, in the treatment of pneumonia, and as mattress and pillow stuffing. Specific to Sudan, leaves are boiled in the making of perfume.

 Bark can be processed to produce yellow-brown dye, insecticide, or medicine for treating a wide array of ailments, including worms parasitic on the intestines or flesh (notably guinea worms), diarrhea, gastroenteritis, lung infections, toothaches, and even snakebites. Natural gum in the bark is used to close open wounds.


Roots are also used medicinally in treating a gamut of conditions, from dizziness and indigestion to chest colds to venereal diseases.

 Suckering shoots provide binding fibers, and the malleable, pale brown to white wood is used to carve tool handles, or fashioned into poles. Wood ash is an admixture to chewing tobacco and snuff, and also in soap production as solvent.


The essential oils in the fruits and leaves are valued for their organic chemical constituents: car-3-ene (in fruit) and linalool (from leaves).

 Certain parts of A. senegalensis are used in treating skin or eye disorders.


Many South Africans believe the roots can cure insanity. Some Mozambicans feed them to infants to wean them from their mother's breast.
Info:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Strap-leaved Bulbine (Bulbine narcissifolia)

Family Asphodelaceae
The grey-green, laxly twisted leaves and compact inflorescence of yellow flowers and white bracts covering the flower buds, make the strap-leafed bulbine, Bulbine narcissifolia, a very attractive plant. This plant is hardy and water-wise and will offer a brilliant yellow flower display without requiring a lot of attention.
 Description

Bulbine narcissifolia is a succulent, stemless, perennial herb with a rhizomatous base. Plants grow singly or in small clumps. The grey-green leaves are strap-shaped, laxly twisted, semi-succulent and up to 350 mm long with a yellowish exudate. Several dense, many-flowered, spike-like inflorescences are formed from a plant during spring and summer. Flowering occurs mainly during February to April and September to November.

The compact inflorescences are erect and up to 500 mm tall with prominent white, membranous bracts covering the flower buds. The bright yellow flowers are star-shaped with bearded stamens and mature from the bottom of the inflorescence. The stalks of the old flowers and fruit are straight, erect and almost completely adpressed against the central axis of the inflorescence.

 Conservation status

Bulbine narcissifolia is not threatened and can be very common in certain areas throughout its wide distribution range. It often forms stands, especially in overgrazed areas and is very conspicuous during the flowering season.

Distribution and habitat

Bulbine narcissifolia occurs from the far eastern regions of the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Free State, North-West, Gauteng, Limpopo, Botswana and further north to Ethiopia. It favours grassland and frequently forms small to large colonies, especially in overgrazed areas.

Owing to its wide distribution, this species is suitable for cultivation throughout the summer rainfall region. It is both frost and drought tolerant and can cope with a wide range of temperatures. In dry, hot years, plants tend to be smaller and have fewer inflorescences than in years of good rainfall.

Certain populations from the Eastern Cape tend to be deciduous, with the leaves dying back during winter and new growth re-emerging in early spring.

 Derivation of name and historical aspects

The specific epithet, narcissifolia, means with leaves like a Narcissus (daffodil). This refers to the grey-green, strap-shaped leaves of this species that are reminiscent of those of many daffodil species.

The genus Bulbine comprises ± 73 species occurring in Africa and Australia. Whereas only six species are found in Australia, a total of 67 occur in southern Africa, with only five of these also extending into tropical Africa. The genus is therefore essentially a southern African entity. The genus is characterized by succulent plants with lax or compound racemes (flowers borne on stalks along an unbranched axis, lower ones opening first) of mostly yellow (rarely white, orange or pink) flowers with bearded stamens.

The most common Bulbine found in the horticultural trade is both the yellow and orange colour forms of B. frutescens. Several other species are also worthy of cultivation, for instance B. abyssinica, B. latifolia, B. natalensis and of course, B. narcissifolia.

Ecology

Like most other species in this genus, Bulbine narcissifolia is insect pollinated and frequently visited by bees.

Uses and cultural aspects

Bulbine narcissifolia is used medicinally by the Basotho and Griqua for wound healing and as a mild purgative. As with many other Bulbine species, the roots can also be taken to counteract vomiting, diarrhoea and urinary infections. It is also commonly used to treat diabetes, rheumatism and blood problems.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lantana (Lantana rugosa)

Family Verbenaceae
Up to now I was not aware that there were various types of Lantana.
Lantana rugosa, commonly known as Bird's Brandy.
 This wild flower should not be confused with Lantana camara, which is a dangerous invader plant, and has been declared a Category 1 invader weed in South Africa.


The Lantana rugosa is harmless, much smaller, with few small light purple flowers and light purple fruits. It has a wide distribution in our region, but prefers shady areas and rocky ridges on the slopes of the Magaliesberg. Look for an untidy multi-branched shrub that has rough hairs covering the branches and leaves.
 The fruits are clusters of small berries, fleshy and purple in colour. It will grow to a height of about 1 metre.


The summer flowering brings small mauve flowers. It is known as Bird's Brandy because the berries are a favourite with birds. This herb is aromatic - sniff the leaves and you will be reminded of verbena.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Trellis Vine (Pergularia daemi)

Family Apocynaceae
It occurs from the Malay Peninsula to Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan through Arabia and Egypt to central and southern Africa. It is found along roadsides, in woodland or along riparian forest fringes.
 Description

The opposite and broadly ovate to suborbicular leaves are very variable in size, with petioles of varying length. The leaves are almost glabrous above and velvety below.

In the northern hemisphere the flowers appear from mid to late winter, and these are carried on lateral cymes. The flower corolla forms a greenish-yellow or dull white tube. The fruit release ovate seeds covered with velvety hairs.

 Phytochemical properties

Terpenoids, flavonoids, sterols and cardenolids are among the chemicals that have been isolated from the either leaves, stems, shoots, roots, seeds or fruit. Traditionally it has been used as an elmintic, laxative, antipyretic and expectorant, besides treatment of infantile diarrhoea, malarial intermittent fevers, toothaches and colds. Studies have shown hepatoprotective, antifertility, anti-diabetic, analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties of substances in its aerial parts.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Orange Bird Berry (Hoslundia opposita)

Family Lamiaceae
This hardy garden plant bears brightly coloured, tasty edible fruits and is an excellent subject for container gardening, which is a useful way to make the best of all available space.


Description

Plants are herbaceous perennials (either spreading or erect) and sometimes soft shrubs, growing up to 1.2 m high. Leaves are opposite or sometimes arranged in threes. Plants possess minute, white or creamy green-coloured flowers, starting from October to February. Fruits are fleshy, berry-like in shape and attractively orange-red in colour.

 Distribution

Orange bird-berry plants have a widespread natural distribution, occurring both in tropical and subtropical open woodland. In southern Africa they occur naturally in areas such as Namibia and Botswana in the north, as well as in Swaziland. In South Africa, they can be found growing naturally from the coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal, extending to Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Plants are very common throughout tropical Africa, in countries such as Senegal, Sudan and Ethiopia.

 Derivation of name and historical aspects

The name Hoslundia was named for O. Hoslund-Smith, a naturalist from Guinea. The Latin name opposita refers to the leaves and fruits, which are set in opposite pairs.

 Ecology

Certain insects including bees visit plants. The tiny cream-green flowers are much loved by butterflies. The fruits are birds' favourites; hence the name orange bird-berry, and wild animals feed on the plant too.

 Uses and cultural aspects

People eat tasty fruits. Leaves are reported to have a strong unpleasant scent, which is alleged to repel bees and is thus utilized in the collection of honey.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sosatie Plant (Crassula perforate)

Family Crassulaceae
A small, spreading bush which can grow up to 1m in height.
 They are able to grow in various positions in the veld and garden, from shade to full sun.
 It is capable of surviving drought and semi-frost.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Needle-leaved Bush-cherry (Maerua rosmarinoides)

Family Capparaceae
 Shrub or small slender tree to 5m in bushveld and stream thickets.
 Host plant for the butterfly larvae of the Pieridae family (whites)


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dolls Powderpuff (Cyanotis speciosa)

Family Commelinaceae
 It is found growing in well drained soil with lots of sun.
 It grows to about 30cmin height and has very small flowers.