After the fire – the first splashes of colour
The unique fynbos vegetation of The Cape is adapted to fire, however this is not to say that all species fare equally well after a fire. The recovery of the vegetation after a fire is not simple to predict. It is a chance occurrence and the recovery of each species is influenced by when the fire occurred, how hot it was, when the last fire occurred, how soon after the fire the first rains arrived and the quantity of rain in the following rainy season.
Whatever the circumstances, the resprouters are the first to make headway after a fire. These are plants that have some form of protected stored nutrient. They take advantage of the sudden lack of combination for sunlight to flourish.
Chief amongst these at the site of the recent fire are the Watsonias, which store nutrients and moisture in a bulb beneath the ground. These guys waste no time at all. As soon as the fire has passed they get going. Here you can see a field of Watsonias literally emerging from the ashes a mere 3 weeks after the fire.
These plants explode in pinks in October-November. Usually their enthusiasm is suppressed by the surrounding bushes, but after the fire there are no surrounding bushes to rein-them-in, so WATCH THIS SPACE!!!! I predict that in November these hills will be painted pink.
I am always amazed by the Gladioli. Somehow they present the most exquisite and delicate flowers in the harshest circumstances. This is no exception. Here a beautiful, fragile bloom emerges a mere 26 days after the fire!
Haemanthus coccineus is known as the “April fool” because it flowers at this time of year, however this year the timing of the fire has favoured this shockingly beautiful flower and many of them are seizing the moment.
Although the restios produce copious numbers of seeds, they also have underground rhizomes, which contain stored reserves and are spared by the fire. They are also amongst the first to burst forth after a fire. Here they resemble a forest of asparagus in a wasteland.