South Africa has an abundance of beautiful indigenous flora. Knowing a little about our proteas, succulents and other indigenous species may help you to identify some of these beauties when visiting. They come in an array of shapes, forms, colours and sizes.
Here are 5 of South Africa’s most fabulous indigenous flowers:
The King Protea (Protea cynaroides) is South Africa’s flower and considered the “king” of plant life in indigenous gardens. The King Protea is found in several colour forms and horticulturists have recognized 81 garden varieties. In some varieties the pink of the flower and red borders of leaves are replaced by a creamy yellow. This unusual flower has a long vase life in flower arrangements, and makes for an excellent dried flower.
Dune Conebush (Leucadendron salignum), all these species belong to the Sunshine Conebush family, a group which turns hillsides bright yellow in winter when they flower. After flowering in spring, the fruit of a Dune Conebush is stored in the cones on the female plants. There they remain until a fire kills the plants, and the seeds are released. They sail down on their flat wings and germinate after the first good autumn rains. Within three years the young plants have flowered and the seeds are ready, stored for the next fire.
Pincushions (Leucospermum), one of the longest blooming perennials, pincushion flowers have old-fashioned charm. They get their name from their interestingly shaped flowers, which resemble little pincushions. They occupy a variety of habitats, including scrub, forest, and mountain slopes.
Slangbos (Stoebe plumosum), translated from Afrikaans to mean “snakebush”, are silver in colour and are a sprawling, indigenous perennial. The plant responds well to pruning and can be maintained at smaller dimensions to suit your garden. It is an excellent dry garden plant and is one of the easiest ways to bring silver foliage into your garden. The plant only thrives in sunny, well-drained conditions and generally provides huge reward through the years.
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Reginae) is one the most popular horticultural perennial around the world. It flowers for long periods with its vivid orange and bright purple/blue and is an ideal pot plant and cut flower subject. The name “Bird of paradise” aptly suits this flower, as its stately colours and size are a beautiful sight.
As a water conscious country, South Africa fills as many open spaces with indigenous species to save water.
Some of the advantages are:
• They require less or very little water in comparison to exotic plants
• They can eventually maintain themselves even in poor soil
• It’s all year-round prettiness because they are evergreen
• You will find lots of birds and wildlife in indigenous planted areas
• They are a great source of medicinal plants
• Interestingly, they have evolved to cope with veld fires
• And lastly, they are an important habitat for natural fauna