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.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cape Plane Tree (Ochna arborea)

Family Ochnaceae  
In South Africa there are 12 species and twenty species in southern Africa, including Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
 With such attractive flowers in all species of Ochna, bees and butterflies are favourite companions of these plants. During the flowering season a chorus of melodies is heard as bees visit to draw out nectar.
The art of colour exhibition is also witnessed as butterflies glorify the season. These insects assist in pollination of Ochna species. Some bird species find the ripe fruit palatable.
An evergreen shrub to medium-sized tree, up to 12 m high. The leaves are oblong, leathery and glossy green with serrated margins. The bright yellow flowers are borne in clusters, on short lateral shoots. Flowering time: Aug.–Jan. The ripe fruit consists of 1–5 kidney-shaped, shiny black carpels on an enlarged receptacle, inside the red, petal-like sepals. Fruiting time: Nov.–Feb. The plant occurs in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, also in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Nemesia deflexa

Family Scrophulariaceae
A small plant about 30cm in height.
No information available on this flower.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pteronia glauca

Family Asteraceae
Found growing in the arid regions and about 30-40cm in height.
No information available.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gazania Splendidissima

Family Asteraceae
Gazania splendidissima is a perennial subshrub to 200 mm tall with woody prostrate branches. Leaves clustered at branch tips, simple to pinnatilobed, semi-succulent, greyish on upper surface, white felted-araneose (cobwebby) beneath. Flower heads 40–65 mm in diam., radiate, solitary, involucre with 2 or 3 rows of bracts inserted on the rim, connate area densely mealy with numerous bristle-like hairs, maculate due to black colour of the hair base and surrounding involucre. Ray florets neuter, 12 to 21; lamina 15–30 mm long, golden-yellow to orange, basally marked with black adaxially. Disc florets bisexual, numerous, yellow. Fruits narrowly obovate, hairy, crowned with a biseriate (in two rows) pappus of scales.
Flowering time: August–October.
Conservation status
The species is currently listed as Vulnerable (Magee et al. 2011). The coastal habitat to which Gazania splendidissima is endemic is threatened by coastal diamond mining and disturbance caused by vehicles. However, the populations appear to recruit readily from seeds so that young plants and seedlings are regularly encountered (L. Mucina pers. obs.).
 Distribution and habitat
Gazania spendidissima is endemic to a narrow strip of the west coast between Port Nolloth and Hondeklipbaai in the Northern Cape Province.
The plants grow in deep sands where they are at risk of being buried. They are usually found between the upper beach and adjacent coastal dune systems, receiving some salt spray during stormy and windy weather. They can be distinguished from the other species of Gazania Gaertn. by the subshrubby growth habit, the semi-succulent leaves which are greyish on the upper surface, and in particular the prominently maculate involucre formed by the bristle-like hairs with black bases.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Silver White Pear (Dombeya pulchra)

Family Sterculiaceae  
Distribution: The silver white pear occurs mainly on the northeastern Drakensberg from Swaziland, through Mphumalanga to the lower parts of Limpopo Province. It has a somewhat restricted distribution, as it grows on rocky hillsides or mountains at high altitudes, in wooded kloofs or in wooded areas along stream banks.
This plant can be classified as a shrub or small tree of up to 5 m in height depending on the area it occurs in. It is multi-stemmed and the slender branches are smooth, wrinkled and often covered with glandular hairs.

The velvety leaves n vary in size from 40 to 200 mm in diameter, are roundish to roughly triangular with the upper half sometimes lobed. The tips are pointed, the bases deeply indented and the margins roundly toothed with 5-7 prominent veins that arise from the base on the lower surface. The upper surface of the leaves is green and covered with short, dense hairs, whereas the undersurface is covered in silvery or greyish white, velvety hairs.

The velvety buds open into white flowers that often display a deep pink centre. They turn brown later. The flowers are borne on hairy stalks in bunches in the axils of the upper leaves. Flowering time: December to May. The fruit is a capsule and is covered with dense, yellowish hairs. The seeds are small, brown and pitted and are ripe between March and June.
Derivation of name and historical aspects: The generic name Dombeya, is in honour of Joseph Dombey, a French botanist and traveller in Peru and Chile (1742-1793). The specific name pulchra comes from the Latin word for beautiful.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wild Camphor Bush (Tarchonanthus camphorates)

Family Asteraceae
 Tarchonanthus camphoratus grows from 2-9m high. It is a semi-deciduous small tree that grows mostly in large uniform groups, but it grows larger and more densely when it grows alone among other trees in the bush. The branches and foliage make a V-shaped canopy. The stem is covered with pale brown bark. Leaves are grey green above and pale grey and felted underneath, with prominent venation on the underside. The leaves are narrow, with entire or finely toothed margins.

The creamy-white flowers are borne in a branched inflorescence on the terminal end of the branch. The fruits are covered with fluffy cottonwool-like hairs, and are produced mostly in March to November. These woolly, white fruiting heads are strongly scented and most attractive. Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees.
 This interesting small tree with its attractive grey foliage is particularly suited to tough conditions. From sites blasted by wind and coastal sea spray to dry inland gardens, it performs well. It is even able to shoot from the base if burnt almost to the ground. If you are looking for a survivor for your difficult landscape site- this is it!

The name Tarchonanthus is derived from the Greek word meaning funeral flower. This name is divided into two parts, 'Tarchos', which means funeral rites and 'Anthos' meaning flower. It is unclear why this name was given, but Jackson (1990) suggests it may have to do with the camphorous smell. The name camphoratus refers to the strong smell of camphor given off when the leaves are crushed.
The camphor bush is widespread in Southern Africa. It grows in thickets of bushveld, grassland, forest and semi-desert. It grows mostly in sandy soils in the low-lying and sand forest of the coast.
The camphor bush is used for medicinal purposes. Problems such as blocked sinuses and headache can be healed by inhaling the smoke from the burning green leaves. Drinking boiled mixture of leaves and water can help to treat coughing, toothache, abdominal pain and bronchitis. Leaves can also be used for massaging body stiffness and also as a perfume. The cottonwool like seedheads were used to stuff cushions.

Animals such as kudu, giraffe, impala and springbok browse the leaves of this tree.

There are only a few species of Tarchonanthus. T trilobus is also in cultivation. The genus occurs in Africa and Arabia. It is closely related to Brachylaena, which also provides attractive, grey-leafed, small trees for the garden.