Seasons: Spring at Lowveld NBG
September, October and November in South Africa are spring months and the weather is warm and pleasant. In the lowveld the mean daily temperatures during this period is 11ºC (nights) and 26ºC (days) and the monthly rainfall is 22 mm on average.
The first rains of spring clean and clear the air. Signs of renewal are found everywhere in the Garden. Fascinating plants start pushing their way through the soil. The blossoming of the wild pear, Dombeya rotundifolia, heralds the advent of the new season as the tree's siSwati name, uMbikanyaka, implies.
This Garden is notable for its wonderful, massed displays of Clivia miniata which never fail to delight visitors. The startling scarlet of the flame creeper, Combretum microphyllum, next to the guest cottage, is a sure invitation to photographers to record the display.
The Lowveld Chestnut, Sterculia murex, grows only in a few areas in south-eastern Mpumalanga, Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal. It regularly bears, in great abundance, dark yellow star-shaped blooms.
The well-known sausage tree, Kigelia africana, a member of the Bignonia family, has large, wine-red, trumpet-shaped flowers that are full of nectar and attract birds and bees from dawn to dusk. The sausage-shaped fruits are not of the delicatessen variety and are eaten by animals with teeth strong enough to crush this rather hard "sausage"! While still green, the fruit is sliced and applied to skin abrasions and reputedly also to skin cancers.
Schotia brachypetala (weeping boerbean) is a large tree that produces a riot of dark red flowers in spring. It is heavily laden with nectar which actually drips down from the tree. It attracts every kind of sunbird imaginable and other birds and animals looking for a sweet treat.
Scadoxus puniceus (paintbrush) is a bulbous plant that produces paintbrush-like flowers, on stalks about 50 cm off the ground. It usually grows in very shady areas and produces glossy, dark green strap-like leaves. Equally impressive red berries that attract birds follow the flowers. The flowers attract pollinators such as honeybees. Although the bulb is said to be poisonous it is used by some traditional healers to treat ailments such as headaches, coughs and stomach problems.
Gardenia cornuta (Natal gardenia), is a dense shrub producing large, beautifully scented white flowers, followed by equally attractive light to dark yellow fruit. Monkeys are known to eat the young fruit and people have been known to eat the fruit in times of food scarcity. The leaves are browsed by game.
Visit our plant information website to read more about plants in the Garden.