Safaris have kept me away from my regular inspections of the post-fire recovery of the Cape Peninsula hills. I’m back in Cape Town for a little while and we have had some winter rains so I seized the opportunity last week to see what obvious changes had occurred during my absence. Because the soils are still very exposed and fragile, I have to confine my inspections to what is visible from the tar road but there were some exciting developments apparent.
I especially enjoyed seeing this Gladiolus maculatus (The Brown Afrikaner). I have never before seen this species in this area and I am certain the conditions after the fire have created a window of flowering opportunity for it.
Regular readers of my newsletter will know that the gladioli are amongst my favourite flower families. I am always astounded how such delicate exquisite flowers can survive in such a harsh environment. Of the 260 known wild species 250 are native to sub-Saharan Africa and most of these are found in South Africa.
Less surprising but equally delightful was the appearance of some Oxalis species flowers:
In a previous post I mentioned the resprouters, which are those species in which the individual plant recovers from the fire damage by sending-out new shoots from the original root stock. The photograph below shows that they do use this strategy. As you can see, the entire above ground portion of the plant was destroyed by the fire but it was able to make use of stored nutrients below the soil, to grow new leaves.