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Author: Braam van Wyk
• 265 full-colour photographs illustrating 260 species from South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland
• Distribution maps for all illustrated species
• Flowers colour-coded to enable quick identification
• Authoritative text by leading expert describing key identificalion features, and including interesting facts
• Compact, casy-to-use formal; the ideal pocket-size companion
For a country of its size South Africa's floristic and vegetational diversity is without equal in the world; over 22 000 plant species are native to the region.
Many South African plants are strikingly beautiful and several popular garden ornamentals are derived from species native to the region.
The principal objective of this book is to give the reader a glimpse of the region's floral riches. Common and conspicuous plant species that are likely to be seen, especially along the roadside, have been featured in this book.
The species included represent all the major vegetation types and include several weedy alien species that are naturalised in the region.
Though this book covers many flowering plant species, inhabiting a range of vegetation types, it describes only a fraction of the species found in South Africa.
Those who want more information on our flora are referred to related books on the topic, some of which are listed under 'Further reading'
South Africa has two distinct floristic kingdoms and is one of only a few countries in the world where one can drive overland from one kingdom to another; it certainly is the one where the change in species composition is most noticeable and the transition between two kingdoms most striking. South Africa is also the only country in the world to harbour an entire floristic kingdom, namely, the Cape Floristic Kingdom.
The smallest kingdom by far, the Cape Floristic Kingdom has more than 8.000 plant species, at least 70% of which are strictly confined to the region. Groups that contribute extensively to the floristic diversity of the Cape are the ericas (730 species) and especially the families Proteaceae (proteas), Restionaceae (reeds), Iridaceae (irises), Asteraceae (daisies), Rutaceae (buchus), Fabaceae (legumes) and Mesembryanthemaccae (vygies). No less than eight plant families are more or less strictly confined to the Cape.
Outside the Cape, the flora of South Africa has a very different composition and is classified as part of the Palaeotropical Kingdom, a large floristic region that includes most of Africa, Madagascar, India, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Prominent groups within this region are from families such as Poaceae (grasses), Mimosaceae (acacia family), Combretaceae (bush willow family), Convolvulaceae (morning glory family), Acanthaceae (acanthus family), Malvaceae (hibiscus family) and many others with a more tropical affinity. [...]
Eucomis autumnalis Liliaceae
A deciduous herb with a bulb; occurring in grassland, especially in moist places or on rocky ridges. Leaves in a basal rosette, strap-shaped, 150-550 x 40-130 mm, hairless, often with a wavy margin.
Inflorescence stalk erect, ending in a tuft of green leaf-like bracts above the densely packed flowers; perianth segments pale yellow-green to whitish. The inflorescence has the appearance of a pineapple, hence the common names.
The bulbs are extensively used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including urinary-tract and lung diseases, stomach ache, fevers, biliousness, blood disorders and venereal diseases. Over-collecting for the herbal trade is a serious threat to natural populations of this species. A genus of at least ten species, all confined to southern Africa.
A spreading perennial shrublet with erect shoots, up to 600 mm high, sprouting annually from a tuberous rootstock; occurring in grass-land, often in rocky places. Leaves pinnately compound; leaflets ± 7 pairs, ±10x7 mm each. Flowers (see page 140) in dense, erect racemes, bright orange-red. Pods cylindrical, ± 40 x 2 mm, hairy.
Indigofera flowers have evolved a fascinating explos-ive pollen-presentation mechan-ism. In the newly opened flower the stamen tube is held under ten-sion between the keel petals by projections on their upper edges.
The pressure exerted by a visiting bee dislodges these projections, releasing the stamen tube and style, which spring up, forcefully striking the underside of the visitor. Once 'exploded', the spent flower hangs limply open.