Article by Yvonne Bosman
All around St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis one can see the beautiful pink flowers coming out of the grass from the canals alongside the pavements of both villages. This is the Brunsvigia, which belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family. They are fast disappearing from the Kouga area due to ignorance, and is worth saving for its great beauty. Plant lovers and botanists are concerned that it will die out if people, new to the area, are not informed about it and they would like to encourage people to protect this very special plant.
The Brunsvigia plant has a large bulb with a particularly beautiful inflorescence. The latter consists of about 20 to 30 pink, to deep pink, or crimson flowers on a stalk rising straight out of the ground, without any leaves being visible. Occasionally one will appear in white, but this is most unusual. The flowers usually appear above ground in autumn. After flowering, the dried inflorescence breaks loose in one piece and blows around the veld like tumbleweed.
If you rescue these flower heads to make into unusual indoor decorations, please ensure that any seeds that are left in them are planted in a safe spot. The plants can be propagated by planting the seeds.
There are two species of Brunsvigia locally. The larger one, Brunsvigia litoralis, with erect leaves, is restricted to a very small area and is not commonly seen whereas the smaller one, Brunsvigia gregaria, is more widespread. However, both should be preserved.
The flower should be left to dry naturally so that the seed can set and then be dispersed by wind. Gardeners are advised to mow around the flower to let it dry naturally.
In winter, when the plant is building up growth for the next flowering period, the leaves come out (in the case of Brunsvigia gregaria) as two flat leaves (close to the ground) looking just like weeds to the uninformed. Gardeners often dig them up, not knowing what they are, so a wonderful treasure is lost.
Questions regarding these plants may be directed to Margie Middleton 083 658 3472 or Caryl Logie on 042 294 0588.
Photo: A Brunsvigia gregaria photographed on the parking area near Spar and bowling green.