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Cobra Lily Time - Walk in Africa
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9 Aug

Cobra Lily Time

The Cobra lilies herald the start of the flowering season in Cape Town. The plants bearing these gorgeous flowers are part of the iris family. Their genus name Chasmanthe is derived from the Greek words chasme, meaning “gaping”, and anthos, meaning “flower”. As is evident from the accompanying picture, the curved tubular shape of their flowers corresponds with that of the bill of sunbirds, which are their pollinators.
They are also dependant up

on birds for the distribution of their seeds, which are brightly orange in colour. Although they do not have a palatable covering, the bright colour is sufficient to attract fruit-eating birds to eat them. The seeds pass undamaged through the birds’ digestive system and are deposited some way away from the parent plant – with a package of nutritious droppings to help them on their way.

The two main species found around Cape Town are the Cobra Lily (Chasmanthe aethiopica) and The Greater Cobra Lily (Chasmanthe floribunda). Both of these are a vivid orange or scarlet in colour, but there is a small population of yellow coloured Greater Cobra Lilies found only around the hamlet of Darling – northwest of Cape Town.