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A very clever fool - Walk in Africa
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17 Mar

A very clever fool

It is generally known as the April Fool but this strikingly beautiful flower is no fool.

Blog Haemanthus sanguineus 2

I was leading a group from KE Adventures UK. We were wading through a sea of fynbos when we came across this flower that stopped us in our tracks.

blog in the fynbos

If you look closely you will notice that the leaves of the plant have died-back but the flower is in full bloom.

Blog Haemanthus sanguineus 1

Right now we are experiencing the driest, harshest period of the year with dessicating South-Easterly winds. The leaves of these plants are broad and strap-like and have an enormous surface area relative to their volume, over which to lose water. The leaves therefore appear during the wet season, when the plants can afford to lose water. The leaves photosynthesize during this time of abundant water and store all the processed foods in an underground bulb.

So now, when it is dry and harsh the leaves have done their work and die-back so as to prevent water loss. The plants mobilise their stored foods from the bulbs and use them to produce this exquisite flower at a time when fewer species are in flower and there is less competition for the attention of pollinators.

Clearly these plants are no fools! Perhaps they are called April Fools because they flower in March instead of April!