Among the many beautiful indigenous blooms this spring is the showy Agapanthus, which many of you will be familiar with either from your own, or at least in public, gardens all over the world. In their natural habitat they are widely distributed along the eastern parts of South Africa, although there is a patch of them indigenous to the south-western Cape. As you can tell from the photograph below, they are easily distinguished by their size – their blooms sticking up well above the surrounding plants.
These geophytes have thick tuberous rhizomes, which helps them to store water and energy. This means that these plants are fairly tolerant of drought conditions. Even when they are not blooming, the shiny, fleshy strap-like leaves look attractive.
They have a long flowering season – I saw the first ones blooming in the veld during November and there are still a lot about. The pale to dark blue flowers are borne in a dense cluster on a long slender stalk. I find the different hues of blue very attractive.
They attract a variety of insects as well as sunbirds.
Every time I visit Cape Town, I am struck by the banks of Agapanthus (Agapanthus praecox) that line so many of the roads there. Agapanthus are grown in private gardens and public parks all over the country. It is a hardy evergreen plant, so their glossy strap-shaped leaves provide a good cover. When they are in bloom en masse, the sight is breath-taking – yet so many people take them for granted and drive on without a second glance. They really are beautiful flowers! The name ‘Agapanthus’ is derived from the Greek agapé (= love) and anthos (= flower). It would be interesting to know why it would be called a ‘flower of love’. John Manning, the author of Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa, suggests this might be an allusion to their beauty.
When you come across Agapanthus blooming in their natural habitat you might be surprised to find they do not sport the large clusters of funnel-shaped flowers you might be more familiar with.
The buds emerge once the calyx has split and the colour intensifies as the buds swell before opening.
This cluster is a mixture of swollen buds and open flowers.
Even their seed-heads look attractive.
It is interesting that this plant that grows on rocky slopes on the coastal mountains of the south-western Cape, along the banks of streams and the thickets of the south-eastern part of the country, and on montane grasslands in the eastern parts of South Africa, has become an international garden denizen. Of course they have become hybridised into a variety of forms and colours.
You will find a really interesting and far more detailed article about these flowers at:
These flowers will have to remain nameless for the time being – any positive identifications will be welcomed. Nonetheless, I find that the presence of even tiny blossoms can lift my spirits and felt so upon seeing lovely flowers blooming on the bank while we were pitching our tent on the Tsitsikamma coast. These delicate pink flowers mingled with the blue to great effect.
I have mentioned the lovely agapanthus blossoms growing along the path leading towards the Storms River mouth.
An array of these beautiful yellow hibiscus flowers also brightened up that pathway.
Note: click on a photograph for a larger view.