Fantastic flowers of South Africa
The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?
In spring (August to October), Namaqualand in the Northern Cape comes alive with colour during the flower season, a spectacle that draws visitors from around the world. If you time your visit right, you'll be able to see a beautiful carpet of flowers across large fields, as pictured above.
If you're on a road trip through the more arid parts of the country in winter (June/July), then you'll be treated to the sight of flowering aloes that splash the hillsides red (see below). The Eastern Cape, parts of which fall within the area known as the Karoo, is famous for its flowering aloes.
Proteas are native to South Africa and commonly sold for display in local homes. The king protea (although not the species in this picture) is the national flower, featured in the South African Coat of Arms and said to represent the aesthetic harmony of South Africa's culture and beauty as a blossoming nation.
The impala lily is native to southern Africa and a common sight in the Kruger National Park's rest camps from July through to September, where it adds colour to the dry winter bush.
South Africa's executive capital, Pretoria, is also known as Jacaranda City as its streets are lined with these trees, which fill the air with their fragrant purple blossoms in early summer around November, a beautiful sight when driving or walking through particular suburbs like Brooklyn (below).
In the eastern Free State you'll encounter pink and white cosmos flowers in the autumn months of March and April. Cosmos is an import into South Africa, having come into this country with the feed used for horses during the South African War at the turn of the 20th century. This photograph was taken near Clarens.
If you're interested in South Africa's unique flora, then a trip to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is essential. The Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of six floral kingdoms in the world and home to some 9 000 species of plants, some of which are grown in this beautiful national garden, including the Leucospermum, or pincushion protea, pictured below.
The strelitzia is a flower native to South Africa, although it is also found in the neighbouring countries of Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and is featured on our 50c coin. It is also called the 'bird of paradise' flower because of its resemblance to the animal.
Another good place to see flowers is in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (part of the Table Mountain National Park), where you might find these little white flowers known as 'everlastings', as their papery blooms never fade. In Afrikaans, they're called 'sewejaartjies' ('seven years'), indicating how long they last.
So, if you happen to be visiting during flower season, pack a picnic basket, a blanket, your sunscreen, your sunglasses, your camera and, for those who have pollen allergies, some allergy medication, and prepare for a fun-filled afternoon that's family friendly and filled with fantastic flowers, and possibly a few bird sightings.