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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum guerichianum)

Family Aizoaceae
 This belongs to the Aizaceae family or Ice Plants.
 It is very variable when it comes to the colour of the leaves.
 A small, almost flat plant of about 10cm in height.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Broad-leaved Bulbine (Bulbine latifolia)

Family Asphodelaceae
Bulbine latifolia is one of the largest species in the genus. It can be identified by its aloe-like growth, but with an absence of marginal teeth on the leaves and elongated racemes bearing small yellow flowers. It is easily grown and can flower in the first season.
Conservation Status
Bulbine latifolia is a very common species in the eastern Cape thicket vegetation. It is often a pioneer and attractive flowering en masse.
 Distribution and Habitat
Bulbine latifolia is widely distributed in the south-eastern parts of South Africa from Knysna in the Western Cape. It is widespread in the Eastern Cape Province, and often found in dry river valleys and rocky gorges. Its grows in soils derived from shale or sandstone, but always on well drained sites. Populations can be seen along the National Road from Port Elizabeth towards Grahamstown and roads north of Port Elizabeth. It is also often found on cliffs.
 Ecology

Bulbine latifolia is pollinated by insects. The ascending inflorescence with fruiting capsules and winged seed is an adaptation to wind dispersed. Fleshy leaves store water and making it drought tolerant and an ideal water wise garden plant. This plant is well adapted to disturbance such as grazing and trampling as the plants regenerate easily from seed.
Uses and cultural aspects


Bulbine latifolia is popular among the traditional healers. The roots are used, taken orally to quell vomiting and diarrhoea, but also for a number of other ailments (Van Wyk et al 1997).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pink Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia radulosa)

Family Amaryllidaceae
Description
Brunsvigia radulosa is a bulbous herb with a large bulb, 60-100 mm in diameter, and with a short neck. The bulb is covered with hard brown tunics. There are 4-6 leaves, usually present at or after flowering, spreading flat on the ground, large, up to 500 x 200 mm, very thick and tough with rough surfaces and margin. The species name refers to this roughness. The inflorescence consists of up to 75 flowers, individually pedicelled (stalked), on a thick, flattened and solid peduncle (inflorescence stalk), forming a large umbel. Pedicels lengthen after fertilization until the seeds ripen. The perianth tube of the flower is short, up to 5 mm long; segments deep pink to pale purple,, 40-60 x ± 8 mm. The stamens curve upwards, and are about the same length as the perianth. The capsule is papery, about 15 mm long. At maturity the inflorescence detaches from the peduncle and becomes an excellent dispersal mechanism as it tumbles across the ground in the wind. The capsules split or break open and release the fleshy seeds over long distances.

 Brunsvigia radulosa is a very striking bulbous plant of the family Amaryllidaceae that grows and flowers spectacularly from December to February in the grasslands of the eastern parts of South Africa and Swaziland.
 Distribution

The species is now known to be widespread from Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern half of Northern Cape. It is also known from Swaziland and Lesotho and from a few records from southern Botswana.

Brunsvigia radulosa is a very striking bulbous plant of the family Amaryllidaceae that grows and flowers spectacularly from December to February in the grasslands of the eastern parts of South Africa and Swaziland.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Beach Plakkie/Inkberry (Scaevola plumierii)

Family Goodeniaceae
 A small succulent plant growing of the beaches of the east coast.
 No information available.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Yellow Mallow (Pavonia praemorsa)

Family Malvaceae
 Found growing in the Port Edward area.
 A small bush about 1m in height.
 Flowers are very small, maybe 2cm in diameter.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vigna vexillata

Family Fabaceae
 A creeper of the sweetpea family found growing in St. Lucia.
 It has no common name. No information available.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ihlozino (Senecio helminthiodes)

Family Asteraceae
 A creeper found along the eastern coast.
 No further information available.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wild Canna (Canna indica)

Family Cannaceae
 This plant is native of the Caribbean and tropical Americas that is also widely cultivated as a garden plant.

It is a perennial growing to between 0.5 m and 2.5 m, depending on the variety. It is hardy to zone 10 and is frost tender.
 Canna indica sps. can be used for the treatment of industrial waste waters through constructed wetlands. It is effective for the removal of high organic load, color and chlorinated organic compounds from paper mill wastewater.
 The seeds are small, globular, black pellets, hard and heavy enough to sink in water. They are widely used for jewellery.
Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canna_indica

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Grey Karoo (Pentzia globosa)

FamilyAsteraceae
 An abundant species in the eastern parts of the Karoo growing to about 20cm in height.
 Not eaten by animals as the leaves are tough and the plant has a bitter smell and taste.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Creeping Foxglove (Asystasia gangetica)

Family Acanthaceae
Description
This is an attractive, fast-growing, spreading, herbaceous groundcover that grows from 300 mm to 600 mm in height. The stems root easily at the nodes. Leaves are simple and dark green. It produces a cream-coloured flower with tessellated purple markings on the palate (lower petal of the corolla) in spring and summer. Flowers are produced over a long period and are followed by capsules with brown seeds. It is semi-hardy, and young plants require protection in areas of heavy frost. In tropical areas it can grow rampantly.

Distribution

Aystasia gangetica is widely distributed from tropical Asia to southern Africa. The subspecies found in South Africa differs from the Asian plant which usually has larger pink flowers. The South African subspecies occurs along the eastern coastal areas of the country and in the north. It is recorded from the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga, Botswana and Namibia.

Name

Asystasia means inconsistency and relates to the fact that the corolla is more or less regular which is unusual in the family Acanthaceae. The word gangetica is derived from the Ganges River in India where it is presumed the species occurs.

Ecology

In nature, Asystasia has developed a good relationship with the honeybee that pollinates the flowers. The white petals of the flowers and purple blue strip on the lower petal attract the insect, indicating to the honeybee where to find the nectar. The flowers also serve as food for beetles and the plant receives visits from ants. The flowers are very attractive to butterflies too.

Uses and cultural aspect
This ground cover can be used as a mass planting under large trees and borders in full sun, semi-shade or full shade. It is also a good container plant. Leaves have been eaten as spinach by the local people.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thick-leaved Gladiola (Gladiolus crassifolius)

Family Iridaceae
 Gladiolus crassifolius occurs widespread from East Africa southward through Zimbabwe and South Africa. 
 The species has two forms, a more robust and a slender one. The robust form can be sharp pink with dark vertical stripes on the two lower tepals at the base of the flower throat, which is creamy yellow inside.  The slender form flowers earlier.

The differences are not sufficient to establish separate species or even variations according to current viewpoint among the decision makers on these matters.
 Differences in habitat may favour the survival of particular forms, starting off sometimes with only minute variations in the survival challenges presented, to become gradually established as notable distinctions in the process of specification over thousands of years.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

White Bushveld Barleria (Barleria elegans)

Family Acanthaceae
Description

Barleria elegans is a medium-sized, fairly fast-growing evergreen shrub up to 1 m high. The leaves are egg-shaped (ovate), dark green and much paler underneath. The narrowly funnel-shaped flowers are carried in few-flowered clusters in the axils (angle between the stem axis and leaf stem) and the bracteoles (reduced leaves) are spiny-toothed.

Distribution and habitat

Barleria elegans is found in the summer rainfall areas of South Africa where it grows in well-drained soils on rocky outcrops and hillsides in full sun to semi-shade and is able to withstand a moderate amount of frost. Rainfall ranges from 500-1 000 mm per annum with temperatures rising into the thirties (°C).

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The name Barleria is derived from the name of a Dominican monk and French botanist, Jacques Barrelier who lived during the 1600s. The species name elegans (Latin) means graceful. The genus consists of a group of herbs or shrubs, some producing spines and all producing fruit in the form of explosive capsules. Members of the genus occur from Japan in the far East, through southern Asia , India, Arabia, Africa, Madagascar to as far west as Central America and Mexico.

Ecology

Barleria elegans is pollinated by insects and attracts various species of butterflies. The insects attract insectivorous birds; therefore this plant is a good choice for attracting life into the garden.

The fruit is a small capsule which explodes to release the seeds. The plant also carries spines to protect itself from being over-utilized by animals.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Canary Creeper (Senecio tamoides)

Family Asteraceae
 Description

A vigorous fast-growing climber with semi-succulent stems and leaves that has a spread of 4 x 2 m. It is mostly evergreen, but during severe winters or in areas that suffer from frost, it will react deciduously, dying back and then recovering beautifully again in the spring.

The light green, shiny, fleshy leaves resemble those of ivy in that they are roughly triangle-shaped with unequal lobes and are attractive all year round. The wonderfully bright canary yellow daisy flowers are borne massed in clusters during late summer and autumn (March to July), making a lovely show; they also have a delightful aromatic scent. The seeds are typical of the daisy family-fluffy and creamy white.

 Distribution and Habitat

The canary creeper occurs naturally on our indigenous forest margins from the Eastern Cape to Zimbabwe , as well as in patches of forest in KwaZulu-Natal and in scattered localities along the escarpment. In its natural habitat, it scrambles up on shrubs and climbs into trees, twining from the shady forest floor to reach the sunlit tree-tops where it can then flower successfully.

 Ecology

The flowers attract butterflies and the larvae of the Tricoloured Tiger and Delegorgue's Prince moth feed on Senecio species. Seeds are wind dispersed.

  Uses and cultural aspects Used widely in gardens as a popular, cheerful, colourful, easy-to-grow climber. In traditional medicine it is used to treat anthrax in cattle and flatulence.