Cyphia volubilis is a climber and the colour of the flowers can vary from white to purple with small white purple markings at the base of the three upper petals.
Plants from the Cyphia group are generally easy to recognise as they are mostly climbers that twine around stems of other plants. During the summer months the stems, leaves and flowers of Cyphia volubilis are dormant. They have an underground tuber from which they grow rapidly in Autumn after the first rains.
The tubers of Cyphia volubilis are edible and they were once an important wild food in the Cape. People would eat the potatoe-like tuber raw or slightly roasted. It was locally named “baroe”. Its fleshy tuber was considered to not only a staple food as well as a thirst quencher because of its high-water content.
Lobostemon fruticosus is also known as “Agdaegeneesbos” in Afrikaans. The vernacular name refers to the plants believed ability to heal a condition in eight days. (eight-day healing bush).
The leaves of Lobostemon fruticosus were pulped, or put into leaf decoctions and ointments and fried in sweet oil or fat. These were used to treat wounds, sores, ulcers, burns, planter’s warts and ringworm.
The crushed leaves of this plant and other species of Lobostemon are mucilaginous (produce a thick and gluey substance) and are thus emollient (having the quality of softening or soothing the skin). The leaves were chewed until a slimy mass formed which was then applied to a fresh wound like a plaster. The outer layer dried to form a soft brown layer. This “plaster” was left on the wound for more than a week.
Lobostemon is closely related to comfrey and may also contain a chemical compound known as allantoin which is well known for its wound healing properties.
Tritonia securigera, is a striking bloom with 3 characteristic prominent yellow teeth on the lower flower lobes. Honeybees grab onto these when they visit the flowers and then crawl over them to reach the nectar. The distance between the top of these teeth and the anthers is just less than the diameter of the bees. The bees squeeze into this gap and this ensures that the pollen of a flower is deposited on the back of the bee and is carried to the next flower for pollination.
Indigofera heterophylla. The roots of many Indigofera species are recorded to have been used medicinally as a treatment for infertility. The leaves of some Indigofera species (usually the larger ones) were boiled up to extract the chemical indigo which is the main source of indigo pigment used as a dye.
This critically endangered orchid was found growing on a rocky slope at Gondwana Game Reserve in September. It is only found in the Mossel Bay Region and is extremely rare.
Hermania filifolia is also known as “broodblom” it has beautiful characteristics twisted to flaring hanging flowers. Most Hermannia species are highly palatable and readily browsed by game. The flowers of Hermannia filifolia have an unusual taste, and are a wild flower that can be enjoyed in salads.
The Agathosma genus is restricted to South Africa and is a typical fynbos species, not easily mistaken by any other as the leaves are usually strongly scented. Traditionally the Khoi had many medicinal and cosmetic uses for different Agathosma species. Also known as “buchu” this plant makes a delicious Buchu tea. Medicinally many Agathosma species were also used to treat chest, stomach and urinary tract infections.
The leaves of Agathosma capensis above, have a strong aniseed or liquorice scent when crushed.
A beautiful Gladiolus with large showy flowers. Growing all over the reserve in spring – it cannot be missed.
Freesias are delightfully fragrant and are known for their unique mixture of spicy and floral scents. Freesias have been used as a vital ingredient in many scented oils because of their captivating fragrance. Their oils are used for aromatherapy and in perfumes.
There are a number of Babiana species that flower around this time of year their bright colours are a sight to behold. The name is derived from a Dutch word – baviaan, referring to the Chacma baboon that relishes the underground corms of plants in the genus. Most Babianas are adapted to Renosterveld and its shale-derived clay soils so much of their habitat has been destroyed.
A gorgeous smaller species of watsonia flowering in tones of pink to red. Their blooms are dotted all over the reserve in Spring and appear as beautiful flame like blooms that are about 30 – 40 cm tall.
These beautiful Gerberas grow in open fynbos areas and are a wide spread species. They are most abundant in areas that have experienced fires. Gerberas form the whimsical (puffy ball-like) seed heads on which most childhood wishes are placed before being blown to the wind.