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, February 21, 2014

Paintbrush Lily (Scadoxus puniceus)

Family Amaryllidaceae
Growing naturally in shady areas in coastal bush, ravines and forest, it can be found in the northern provinces, Free State, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape; with its distribution extending to Tropical Africa. This species is quite variable and a number of different forms occur throughout its distribution range.

In spring and early summer the Scadoxus puniceus bears large dense heads (inflorescences) up to 15cm across consisting of numerous smaller scarlet flowers with bright yellow anthers. The flower stalk may reach up to 50-60cm and is often spotted with purple near the base. The inflorescences are borne within bracts which may be large and dark purplish red in colour. Sunbirds, weavers and other nectivorous birds feed on the nectar produced by the flowers.
The young inflorescence, protected by bracts and borne on the red/purple spotted flower stalk, appears first, followed by the stem which bears 6-8 leaves. The leaves are glossy green, reach 30-40cm in length and have wavy margins. They are held erect clasping at the base to form a pseudostem (false stem) which has red/purple speckled scale leaves at the base.

The large underground bulbs may be up to 10cm across and have a short thick stem at the base from which numerous fleshy roots arise. The plants are dormant in winter and use the large bulbs and roots to store moisture during this period.
The fruits are fleshy, round, shiny red berries up to ±1cm in diameter. They bear single soft pearl-like seeds inside. Ripe berries eaten by birds / monkeys

As within many of the closely related amaryllids, this bulb is poisonous and deaths have been reported following the ingestion of the bulb. However this species is widely used in traditional medicine to treat coughs and gastro-intestinal problems. It has also traditionally been used as part of a medicine taken regularly during pregnancy to ensure a safe delivery