Living and hiking in The Cape Floral Kingdom is an absolute privilege. With more than 9,000 plant species in this tiny area, it is no surprise that I regularly encounter beautiful flowers that I have never seen or noticed before.
Recently I was walking in the Cederberg on a glorious cloudless spring day, when I noticed this strikingly beautiful Gladiolus, which I had never seen before. As I continued walking it became apparent that this species was abundant. So although I have walked in this area often and at a similar time of year, I have never seen it previously. No doubt the recent fires provided ideal conditions for an exceptional flowering season. Additionally the fact that this flower lasts for only a single week accounts for the fact that I had never seen it before.
The species is named Gladiolus alatus. The genus name “Gladiolus” comes from the latin “gladius” which means a sword and refers to the sword-shaped leaves of this group. The species name “alatus” comes from the latin word for “winged” and refers to their broadly winged seeds that are adapted for wind dispersal.
There are several common plant names that I find totally inappropriate and this is one of them. This lovely plant is known as the “little turkey” apparently because someone decided that the flower resembles the wattles of a turkey!!! I think that is rude!