The Iris Family

The Iris Family

Image: Joan Keyter

Rodney Moffett (Research associate, Dept. of Plant Sciences, UFS) contributing with a series of articles regarding the more interesting plants in the Clarens Village Conservancy.

SOME OF THE MORE INTERESTING PLANTS IN THE CLARENS VILLAGE CONSERVANCY. No. 4

Members of the Iridaceae are a group characterized by long strap-like leaves and flower parts in 3’s or 6’s, and having only 3 stamens. The most well-known are the bearded irises found in many gardens. These are, however, not indigenous, having originally come from the northern hemisphere. 

Indigenous members of this family occurring in and around the Conservancy are genera such as Moraea, Gladiolus, Watsonia, Hesperantha, Schizostylis, Dierama, Crocosmia, Tritonia and Aristea. 

Moraea

(named after the wife of the Swedish botanist, Linnaeus).
Closest to the garden Iris, two Moraea’s occur here, viz: Moraea tripetala, dwarf and mauve and M. alticola, found in higher parts.

Moraea alticola

Image by Wim Wybenga

Gladiolus

(Latin name for a sword, referring to the leaf blades).
Four species locally, viz: Gladiolus dalenii, G.crassifolium, G. papilio and G. saundersii  (the latter rare, one plant seen so far).

Gladiolus dalenii.

Image: Anneke Kritzinger

Gladiolus crassifolius  

Image: Wim Wybenga

Gladiolus papilio

Image: Anneke Kritzinger

Gladiolus saundersii 

Image: Rod Moffett

Watsonia lepida 

(after William Watson, 18th century English scientist).
Only one species here, Watsonia lepida. Often in large populations.

Watsonia lepida  

Image: Anneke Kritzinger

Schizostylis coccinea

(Schizo, Gk for split; stylis, Latin, referring to style). 
One species here. Schizostylis coccinea. River lily. Found in wet places.

Schizostylis coccinea 

Image: Wim Wybenga

Hesperantha

(Hesperos, Gk for evening; anthos Latin for flower).
Two species in the CVC., viz: Hesperantha coccinea (formerly included in Schizostylis) found In wet places and H. schelpeana. Latter rare.

Hesperantha coccinea 

Image: Anneke Kritzinger

 Hesperantha schelpeana 

Image: Rod Moffett

Dierama

(Diorama, Gk for funnel, referring to shape of flower).
One species locally. Dierama robustum. Common name, Hairbells.

Dierama robustum  

Image: Anneke Kritzinger

Crocosmia

(Krokos, Gk for saffron; osme, Gk for smell).
One species in the CVC, Crocosmia paniculata. Gardeners also know it as Montbretia.

Crocosmia paniculata  

Image: SANBI

Tritonia

(Triton, Latin for weathercock, referring to the stamens).
One species in the CVC. Tritonia lineata.

Tritonia lineata 

Image: Wim Wybenga

Aristea

(Arista, Latin for point, referring to the sharp pointed leaves).
One species in the CVC, Aristea woodii. Blue flowers rare in this family.

Aristea woodii  

Image: Wim Wybenga

Gladiolus saundersii, Welcome

Gladiolus saundersii, Welcome

Saunders’ Gladiolus, also known as the Lesotho Lily, is not often seen in our immediate area, on the contrary! Rodney Moffat, an honorary research fellow of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State, now living in Clarens, says he often sees this lily in the Drakensberg but cannot recall when he last spotted it in Clarens.

This elegant lady stands 400-600mm tall, usually grows in colonies in fairly dry rocky places between 2400-3000m. The leaves are sturdy, erect and grow into a fan to 15-25mm wide with the midrib thickened, showing prominent veins. The flowers are large, more or less 60mm wide, usually downward facing and strongly hooded. It is bright red with a broad white mark and speckling on three lower tepals.

The flowers can be eaten as salad or cooked as a pot herb. It is often used in traditional medicine to treat diarrhoea.

ERICA, oftewel heide

Rodney Moffett (Research associate, Dept. of Plant Sciences, UFS) contributing with a series of articles regarding the more interesting plants in the Clarens Village Conservancy.

SOME OF THE MORE INTERESTING PLANTS IN THE CLARENS VILLAGE CONSERVANCY. No. 3

Laat my langs die heide wandel, Waar die heiderosies blom. Waar uit bossies en groen weiland Nuwe lenteliedjies kom.

Gé Korsten en Min Shaw se alombekende lied vestig die aandag hierdie lente aan die heide-soorte in ons Clarens Bewarea.

Daar kom drie soorte Ericas binne die bewareagrense voor en nog twaalf ander in die nabyliggende berge. Van hierdie twaalf is sewe beperk tot die Drakensberge en word dus beskryf as endemies aan die bergreeks.

Die naam Erica kom moontlik van die Grieks ereika wat beteken – dit wat maklik breek, en verwys na die soort se takkies wat maklik breek.

Die Erica familie is ‘n besondere groot familie wat bekende tuinplante soos Azalea en Rhododendron insluit, asook die Bloubessie (Vaccinium) waarmee in ons omgewing (Slabberts) nou geboer word. Erica self, bestaan wêreldwyd uit oor die 800 soorte, waarvan ongeveer 650 in Suid-Afrika voorkom, met 600 in die Wes- en Suidkaap alleen. Die plante is klein immergroen struike met kleurryke blomme wat wissel van 2mm tot 35mm in lengte. Verbouing is deur middel van steggies in herfs of deur middel van saad.

Erica cerinthoides – rooihaartjie – red sticky heath – momonyane in Sesotho. Die naam cerinthoides beteken – soos die heuningblom, Cerinthe. en die Sotho naam verwys na klein lippe. Dit is ‘n ylvertakte struik tot 800 mm hoog met kort naaldvormige blare en rooi buisvormige blomme. Nie volop in die CVC  nie en kom gewoonlik tussen rotse in die hoër dele voor.

Erica cerinthoides. Foto: Wim Wybenga

Erica alopecurusvosstert erica, foxtail erica, tjhesa ditedu in Sesotho. Die naam alopecurus vergelyk die bloeiwyse met die van ‘n vos se stert en die Sesotho naam beteken ‘n brandende baard. Dit is ‘n dwerg heide tot 300 mm hoog, met regopgroeiende stingels afgerond met ‘n borselagtige bloeiwyse van klein, diggepakte pienk blommetjies. Kom voor in vogtige grassland en mooi voorbeelde kan aan die suidekant van die Kloofdam gesien word.

Erica alopecurus. Foto: Wim Wybenga

Erica maestageen volksnaam nie, no common name in English or Sesotho. Maesta is Latyn vir treurig en verwys moontlik na die piepklein blommetjies, wat in vergelyking met die ander ericas, onopsigtelik is. Die plante is veelvertakte dig struike tot 100cm hoog en kom op die berghange voor. En is veral volop langs die Mallen-staproete.

Erica maesta. Langs Mallen-staproete 

Erica maesta. In volle blom. Beide foto’s: Rodney Moffett.

ERICAS (heather) in the Clarens Village Conservancy.

Ericas, of which there are over 800 species worldwide with over 600 in the western and eastern Cape, form the largest group in a family containing such well-known plants as Azaleas and Rhododendron, as well as Blueberry (Vaccinium), the latter now grown commercially locally (Slabberts).

Three species are found in the CVC with another 12 in the nearby environment. Seven occur only in the Drakensberg and are thus endemic to that mountain range.

Ericas are small evergreen shrubs with short needle-like leaves and in most cases colourful tubular flowers.

The three species found in the CVC are:

Erica cerinthoides, in rocky places in higher ground.
E. alopecurus, in short grassveld, notably south of the Kloof dam, and 
E. maesta, on the lower slopes, especially along the Mallen Walk..