We have had plenty of hikers enjoying the Fynbos Trail this autumn and have had great fun admiring the many magnificent flowers along the route. Perhaps because of the excellent rains in January our King Proteas (Protea cynaroides) have been the largest and most showy we can remember.
The magnificent Candelabra flowers (Brunsvigia orientalis) always seem to surprise our hikers. There impressive form and size is very unexpected. They emerge first as large pinkish ‘eggs’ suddenly pushing their way out of the ground, and then very quickly elongating and becoming topped with spectacular red spherical flowerheads – a sight to behold! What makes them even more surprising is that they pop up out of the bare ground with no leaves, having saved up their ‘food’ for flowering last winter!
The flowers just keep coming, and each week we are treated to some new ‘gem’ that makes its appearance. A favourite late autumn star is the pink iris, Gladiolus meridionalis. These dainty pink flowers are dotted all along the trail at the moment. It is a species restricted to the Gansbaai-Elim area with a strange outlying population near Port Elizabeth! It is a favourite with sunbirds who enjoy sipping on its sucrose-rich nectar – and plant loving photographers on the Fynbos Trail.