The Wild Foxglove (Ceratotheca triloba) reminds me of summer and early autumn in the Lowveld. Ceratotheca refers to the horned capsules and originates from the Greek kerato (horned) and theke (a case), while triloba refers to the plant having three leaves.
It might not be as ‘showy’ as the exotic ones favoured by gardeners, but it has a beauty of its own – especially when seen growing in clumps, as we did in the Kruger National Park.
The bottom flowers bloom first and form fruits while buds are developing higher up. Here a plant is being given a thorough going through by a Baboon.
This process left many of the tall spikes stripped of their blossoms and the stems bent and broken.
It is always pleasing to see them on our infrequent visits to KwaZulu-Natal too.
Here it is easier to get a closer look at the trumpet-shaped lilac flowers with their characteristic dark streaks at the throat. The latter are easier to see from close up as the flowers hang in clusters – hiding this beautiful aspect from the average passer-by.
They tend to grow in disturbed soil and so are commonly seen along the side of the road and in grasslands. Despite its name, this ‘foxglove’ actually belongs to the ‘sesame’ family!