Driving into and around Cape St Francis one cannot help but notice many beautiful pink flowers popping up on pavements and gardens (sadly this does not happen so often now in St Francis Bay).
These striking plants which can be seen flowering from the Gamtoos River on the N2, to the Greater St Francis area, have become highly threatened because of urban development, alien invasion, and ignorance. They are in danger of dying out if people, new to the area, are not informed about it and botanists and plant lovers hope that with more awareness their disappearance may be halted.
These striking Brunsvigia gregaria plants belong to the Amaryllidaceae family. They have 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. The flowers usually appear above ground now, in autumn. After flowering, the dried inflorescence breaks loose in one piece and blows around like tumbleweed.
Digging these threatened species out with a trowel will not help to protect them as the roots will become damaged in the process. They can be propagated by planting the seeds so 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 as two flat leaves (close to the ground) looking just like weeds to those not familiar with the plant.
“It is actually an offence to dig up Brunsvigia, or any lilliacae plants,” says Caryl Logie, a local botanist. “If they need to be rescued for any reason, a permit must be obtained from the Department of Environmental affairs in Aston Bay (telephone 042 292 0339).”
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.
Questions regarding these plants may be directed to Caryl Logie on 042 294 0588 or 083 529 5410
and photo by Yvonne Craig