Summer has arrived and over the past few weeks, we have almost totalled 330mm of rain for the season so far. With the beauty of the awaited rains, here at Londolozi, we get to experience the beginnings of many forms of life on the reserve. The impala lambs, wildebeest calves, warthog piglets and the summer migrants have all returned and flourished throughout the continuously greening Londolozi.
Another arrival with the summer rains, which I believe to an extent is quite overlooked, is the beautiful array of bushveld wildflowers. The evolved landscape is now, when carefully observed, covered in a dotted ocean of beautiful shapes and colours of the Lowveld’s flowers. These delicate flowers will scatter themselves over the rolling hills and thick riverine areas right until late February early March.
In the Lowveld of South Africa, there are said to be 4674 species of wildflowers, that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. At Londolozi, there are many different flowers you may come across during your stay, I am not going to go into all of them as this blog would never end, so I’d like to briefly show a few of the favourites. These flowers are some of the most common at Londolozi and ones which will definitely catch your eye.
Bloodlily (Scadoxus multiflorus) is also known as Fireball lily.
The Bloodlily is strongly toxic and was traditionally used in medicines as well as arrow and fish poisons. This wildflower will easily catch your eye whilst out on safari. Some grow twice the size of a tennis ball.
The Morning Glory flower is one of the more common ones here at Londolozi. As the name suggests, most morning glory flowers unfurl into full bloom in the early morning. These flowers are edible, however, you do have to be very careful that you don’t consume the seeds (the seeds are said to consist of hallucinogenic compounds).
Wild Hibiscus (Hibiscus engleri)
A beautiful flower that contains an attractive fragrance. There are more than 50 species of hibiscus in South Africa occurring in a range of habitats. They are very attractive for a vast array of insects including butterflies and bees that in turn, attract birds that will prey on the insects.
Lions Eye (Tricliceras lacerated)
The Lions Eye is by far one of my favourite of all the flowers. The striking orange colour is hard to miss. They begin to appear just as the rains start to arrive, sometimes standing out in the still, harsh winter environment and will be seen throughout the entire summer.
Blue Commelina (Commelina erecta)
The Blue Commelina grows very well in wet sandy soils or during good rainfall seasons, meaning that over the last two years we have seen them in abundance throughout the reserve. They are believed to have very many uses from a poultice, to reducing high blood pressure. It is used by the Sotho for treating barren women. For burns, sore throats, sore eyes, dysentery, rashes and leprosy within many different cultures.
Wild Fox Glove (Ceratotheca triloba)
A male lion resting amongst a forest of Wild Fox Glove flowers. These flowers start to stand out more and more into the summer. As the grass grows taller so do these purple, blue plants. These flowers along with wild animals can contribute to creating a magnificent scene.
String of Stars (Heliotropium nelsonii)
A beautiful white flower that covers open crests. When driving along the open crests, these flowers may look like an array of stars scattered along the savannah. They also contain an alkaloid toxin that the African Monarch Butterfly feeds on to then synthesize courtship pheromones vital in incapacitating the female butterfly allowing him to mate.
Poison Apple or Devils Apple (Solanum Linnaeanum)
This plant is a poisonous species and not related to true apples. The apple-like fruit produced from the flower is not consumed by most fauna. Traditional Zulu practices use the fruit (when fresh, boiled or charred) in herbal medicine to treat a wide variety of afflictions, including cancer, toothaches and ringworm.
Keep a look out for a few of these during your stay with us throughout the summer months.