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, December 30, 2013

Honey Bush (Melolobium candicans)

Family Fabaceae
 A small bush growing to about 45cm in height.
It is not endemic to South Africa.
 A very rigid bush with spines.
Found in the Eastern, Western and northern Cape as well as the Free State and North West Province.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Broad-leaved Resin Tree (Ozoroa obovata)

Family Anacardiaceae
A semi-deciduous to evergreen shrub which can also grow into a small tree about 6 to 8 m in height; it is deciduous to evergreen and has a flat crown. The bark is grey, rough and thick, and the small branches have reddish brown lenticels (small, corky spots on the bark). The leaves are spirally arranged in whorls of 3 and they are oblong to obovate, 25–120 x 15–40 mm, dark green above and paler green to silver underneath.

The flowers are small and white, arranged in axillary and terminal clusters in the form of a slender pyramid of about 100 mm long which occurs from January to May. The kidney-shaped fruits are about 7 x10 mm and become black when mature, from February to September.
Distribution and habitat
The broad-leaved resin tree is distributed from tropical Africa through southern Mozambique and southeastern Zimbabwe to northern KwaZulu-Natal. The variety elliptica occurs inland in bushveld areas on rocky or loamy soils.
 Name derivation and historical aspects
The origin of the name Ozoroa is unknown; obovata refers to the egg-shaped leaves with the widest point being away from the stem.
Uses and cultural aspectsThe leaves are eaten by browsers (game animals that eat leaves) while the bark is chewed and eaten by elephants and the fruits are eaten by some bird species such as hornbills. The nectar produced by small spots on the green fruits is utilized by ants.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hesperantha longituba

Family Iridaceae  
A bulbous plant which flowers in the summer.

Found in the arid regions.

 Plants are small, about 20cm in height.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Honey Flower (Melianthus comosus)

Family Melianthaceae
Uses and cultural aspects
Leaf poultices and leaf decoctions are widely used to treat septic wounds, sores, bruises, backache and rheumatic joints. It is a traditional remedy for snakebite.When placing traps for jackals and other wild animals, branches of Melianthus comosus are used to wipe the ground to remove the smell of humans.
Melianthus comosus has a wide distribution, mainly in the dry interior of South Africa. Its extends from Namibia to the North West Province, Gauteng Province, Mpumalanga Province, Free State Province, Lesotho, Northern Cape Province, Western Cape Province and Eastern Cape Province.
The brightly coloured red flowered petals produce an abundance of nectar that attracts Sunbirds, Cape White Eyes, bees and butterflies.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Coral Porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis)

Family Verbenaceae
 A lovely plant to have in the garden which grows to a height of over a metre.
The flowers attract butterflies, a definite plus for me.
 Found growing in the Natal area.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cape Chestnut (Calodendrum capense)

Family Rutaceae
Birds do not find the nectar-filled flowers inviting, but butterflies do feed on them. Samango and vervet monkeys, and rameron and olive pigeons, cinnamon doves and Cape parrots eat the seeds. The larvae of several butterfly species, including the orange dog (Papilio demodocus) which also uses other citrus family trees, breed on the foliage.
In a forest environment, this tree can reach heights of up to 20 m, but at the forest margin or in the open it is shorter, approx. 7 m, with a more spreading canopy. At the coast this tree is often evergreen, but inland it is deciduous with rich yellow autumn colours. The flowers are large and striking, faintly sweet-scented and carried in conspicuous terminal panicles during early summer (October to December).
The timber is white or light yellow, fairly hard but bends well and is easily worked. It is used for tent bows, wagon-making, yokes, planking, shovel handles, and furniture, and is considered one of the most generally useful hard woods. The bark is used as an ingredient of skin ointments and is sold at traditional medicine markets. Seeds are crushed and boiled to obtain oil that is suitable for making soap. The Xhosa believe that the seeds have magic properties, and hunters used to tie them around their wrists when hunting to bring them skill and good luck.
Calodendrum capense got its common name because William Burchell (1782-1863) thought that the flower and fruit resembled the horse chestnut. It is, however, not closely related to the chestnuts, Castanea species, which belong in the Fagaceae, the beech & oak family. And Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), pupil of Linnaeus and the 'father of South African botany', was so excited at the sight of a tree in flower when he visited Grootvaderbosch in 1772, that he fired his gun at the branches until one broke and delivered the blooms into his hand. He was the one who named it Calodendrum.
Calodendrum capense is a member of the Rutaceae, the buchu & citrus family, a family of ±160 genera and ±1650 species that occur in warm temperate regions of the world, with 22 genera and 290 species in southern Africa. One of the diagnostic features of this family is the presence of oil glands on the leaves, visible as tiny translucent dots when held up to the light. Another common feature, caused by the oil, is the strong scent of the leaves, particularly when they are crushed.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Butterfly Leaf (Adenolobus Garipensis)

Family Fabaceae  
An unusual plant where the seed pod grows outside of the flower instead of becoming the it.
Grows to about 1-1.5m in height.
Found in the Augrabies Falls region.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Carpet Geranium (Geranium incanum)

Family Geraniaceae
 A beautiful flower which grows into a carpet and ideal for a garden. Plants grow to a height of about 30cm. Flowers almost all year round with a peak during the summer months. It has finely divided leaves which give it a soft texture in the garden.
 It occurs naturally in the southwestern and eastern parts of the country where it can be found scrambling about through natural vegetation. It can be grown in full sun or semi-shade, although it does flower better and form a tighter carpet in full sun. Geranium incanum can be used very effectively on banks or as a colourful border plant, it is also very attractive when allowed to trail over retaining walls or garden pathways and steps. It is also equally useful in mixed borders, pots or hanging baskets.
 The word Geranium comes from the greek geranos which refers to a crane as the seed capsule resembles that bird. The specific name makes reference to a pale greyish-white colour possibly on the underside of the leaves.

This plant is used traditionally by both African people and Europeans to make a medicinal tea from the leaves which is used to offer relief from certain complaints such as bladder infections, venereal diseases, and conditions relating to menstruation.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ubendle (Gazania rigens)

Family Asteraceae
 There are many types of wild and cultured Gazania’s in South Africa. A great many of the wild species are found in the more arid regions.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moss-in-a-basket (Tradescantia spathacea)

Family Commelinaceae  
 An exotic plant from Mexico.
 It can tolerate many different kinds of conditions: hot or dry, full sun to shade.
 Does well as a ground cover and is easily propagated. Makes an attractive border.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chinese Lantern (Nymania capensis)

Family Meliaceae
Nymania capensis is pollinated by bees and bumble bees. The seeds are carried by the wind in the puffy capsules some distance away from the parent plant. In most cases they are blown under small karroid-like bushes where they will germinate once climatic conditions are suitable. Once sufficient rain has fallen, the plants begin life under the protection of a the nurse plant which is a small shrub or bush that gives protection to the young seedling whilst it is vulnerable to harsh, exposed climatic conditions. As in many desert plants, out of the thousands of seeds that germinate, only a very small fraction will make it to adulthood. The plants generally grow slowly. Under ideal conditions it may take three years for a plant to reach a length of 1.5 m. They may live for more than twenty five years in their natural habitat.

A rigid shrub, attaining heights of 6 m under ideal conditions. However, its normal height is not more than 3 m. The leaves are stiff and leathery in texture. The leaf shape is obolanceolate (almost spear-shaped), tufted, and is on a short shoot. The flowers are solitary and borne in the leaf axils. Flowers are dull red in colour; however, Nymania capensis from the Richtersveld often has bright red flowers. Seeds are produced in papery, inflated capsules, hence the name, Chinese lantern. The seeds are pea-shaped, and brown colour.
Nymania capensis occurs in southern Namibia , the Richtersveld, Namaqualand , Ceres Tanqua Karoo, Bushmanland, Worcester Robertson Karoo and the Little Karoo. It favours hot, dry, rocky habitats, but also occurs near dry, sandy rivers. Like so many other xerophytic plants (plants adapted to dry conditions) in South Africa , they are water misers. They grow predominately in the winter rainfall areas that receive little more than 120 mm annually. They are relatively frost tolerant, being able to survive temperatures of - 4°C. They can also survive in extreme heat, 44°C and above!

Derivation of name and historical aspects
This genus is named after the Swedish botanist Carl Fredrik Nyman (1820-1893). The specific epithet capensis indicates that the plant comes from the Cape.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hermannia leucantha

The genus consists of 154 species, which have a distribution mainly across the Flora of southern Africa area. There are 141 South African species alone, of which 81 are endemic to South Africa (occuring in South Africa only).
Thanks for the correction Dave! Much appreciated.