What makes the Erica irregularis so conspicuous, so breath-takingly noticeable? It is the massive number of flowers borne per plant and of course, the colour. It is a real show-off, very floriferous and very eye catching. The corolla (flowers) are 4 to 5 mm long and rounded with some restriction at the mouth. It has four large (for an Erica) sepals (a leaf-like growth) enclosing the corolla as well as three bracts on the pedicel. The stamens (the female flower parts) are slightly exerted and the anthers (the male flower parts) are crested, it is a beard-like growth on the anthers. The glabrous (hairless) flowers are borne on woolly pedicels (flower stems) of about 7 to 10 mm in length. The name is derived from the irregular arrangement of the flower bearing pedicels, presto, Erica irregularis.
Pink fingers reaching into the blue skies
The erect plants grow up to 1,5 m in height on coastal sandy dunes. These soils have a ph of higher than 7. The plants are very desirable and fynbos lovers are frequently looking for plants, but alas, they are not easy to propagate. From cuttings is fairly difficult, from seeds apparently never successful except in nature.
Hills of pink between Stanford and Gansbaai, Overberg
One often see mountain slopes covered in a specific colour at certain times of the year, these are in all probability mostly also Ericas, different species though, but this show at Gansbaai is probably unparalleled due to the fact that it is so accessible, everyone can walk to a plant and admire it, photograph it, smell it and just love it. This one of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s most user-friendly displays, a perfect choice to teach children about the value and diversity of our floral heritage.
This article was written by Adriaan Hanekom
(Images supplied by Xplorio)
Learn more about Erica and the Bee with this beautiful video:
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