Summer Gold star and fire on Peers Hill

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

This bulb has travelled with us thru three gardens. Sometimes planted in the ground, but since I chose it for the three ranks of leaves, it sings more clearly in a pot. Once bought at Kirstenbosch, the bulb is now substantial!

Hypoxis flowers, fading by midday
Hypoxis flowers, fading by midday

Chrome yellow flowers are currently the stars in my Summer Gold corner. The individual flowers are short-lived and close to fade at midday. But there are always new buds coming.

Hypoxis hemerocallidea bud, flower, fading, gone to seed
Hypoxis hemerocallidea bud, flower, fading, gone to seed

Silvery buds come up, each stalk within its own leaf. There are masses of shiny black seeds but I have never seen any Hypoxis hemerocallidea seedlings (stimulated to germinate, by fire!) 90 species of Hypoxis spread across the world, except Europe. 76 species in Africa, 40 in South Africa (16 endemic to SA).

Fan of Hypoxis leaves
Fan of Hypoxis leaves

The leaves fan out to the three corners of a triangle. With a sheen of delicate silver hairs on the lower surface of the leaf. For Pam@Digging's Foliage Followup on 16th

Hypoxis hemerocallidea
Hypoxis hemerocallidea

Hypoxis in pot
Hypoxis in pot

Tricky to show you the way the leaves are arranged. Two sets fanning left and right, and a third veering off in a fresh direction. Coming from the summer rainfall side of South Africa, it does need watering in our mediterranean dry summer. PlantZAfrica tells me the bulbs are dormant in winter and need to be kept dry - since my plant and I didn't know that, mine is simply evergreen.

Summer Gold with potted Hypoxis in the centre
Summer Gold with potted Hypoxis in the centre

To the gardener's eye the golden stars are the jewel of Summer Gold. The camera, sees the fan of leaves, the flowers? Not so much. Hypoxis is also called African potato, used in traditional African medicine as a 'notorious' remedy for AIDS before anti-retrovirals. It is the most traded plant at muti markets in the Eastern Cape.

False Bay Dozen for Diana 2015-2016 first four plants
False Bay Dozen for Diana
2015-2016 first four plants

False Bay Dozen for Diana returns to my own chosen plant, after January's Discovered Treasure. Bring me a plant that says - my garden in February to you?

Donna of Gardens Eye View in Central NY State chooses Solomon's seal. Delicate green bells followed by blue berries.  
Beth at PlantPostings in Wisconsin has vibrant purple flowers on a pitcher plant. 

Fire from our bay window
Fire from our bay window

Last Thursday we took Thomas for his vaccinations. Turning for home after the vet - that smoke - wasn't there when we left home! We walked to the next street up and along the path around the houses. So quickly the fire spreads, fanned by the usual (if there's a fire in Cape Town) Southeaster. A wisp of smoke just outside the house on the corner edge and the wind grabs the flames and roars along the valley, up the slope of Peers Hill and turning to ash one of the last green sections. While we stood there, they called in three helicopters - which later flew right over our house. The rotors making me feel as if I was going to be sucked up into the sky!

Fire at Peers Hill February 2016
Fire at Peers Hill February 2016

I am very impressed by our firefighters and the volunteers. They were already on duty when we went to look. Teams of fresh people coming in. Fire engines from Table Mountain National Parks are able to move across rough terrain. Those men and women so fit and well trained, carrying their equipment up the mountain slope. Once the flames were out, they stayed on duty overnight (we saw their headlamps as they worked) and thru the next days until all the smouldering embers were quiet.

Firefighters going up Peers Hill
Firefighters going up Peers Hill

But sad for the mountain and the wildlife battling too frequent fires. There will be fire lilies and sprouting proteas.

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Comments

  1. Many wildflowers thrive after a fire, but scary to have one so close to home. Lucky to have such dedicated public servants to deal with it. My favorite shot of the Hypoxsis is in silhouette near the path.

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    1. apparently asparagus fern comes thru after two weeks - providing food for the bees.

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  2. I think fire fighters are the heroes of countries like Australia and S.Africa..they put themselves in so much danger, regardless of their training.
    I love the soft grey foliage of your ''dozen for Diana'' photo, I wonder if it is frost resistant?
    I didn't know that the Hypoxis is used as a herbal remedy for AIDS. Interesting.

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    1. grey leaves is Centaurea, comes from the shores of the Mediterranean. Might take light frost?

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  3. fire is such a frightening thing, you're lucky to have such a great fire crew!very scary!!
    Your descriptions of the plants leaves is even more beautiful than the plant if that is possible, what a beautiful fan, so intricate,

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  4. Oh my, yes, that fire is too close to your house. I'm glad they were prepared and were able to extinguish it quickly. The flowers of our Common Goldstar (Hypoxis hirsuta) look very similar to your Hypoxis, but yours appears to be a larger plant. The fanning of the foliage is fascinating, and reminds me of the Walking Iris species (Neomarica). Great post! I'm planning to post a "plant of the month" on Feb. 24 to coincide with your "Dozens" and Gail's "Wildflower Wednesday."

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    1. walking iris is such a fun name - our wild iris Dietes 'walks' too.
      I look forward to seeing what plant you chose!

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  5. Lovely little flowers! And: oh, a green, green, green garden :)! Good for my late winter soul.
    Have a wonderful time
    Elisabeth

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  6. Wonderful post with so much fascinating information. The fire was so close it's good they acted quickly.

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  7. It's awful for wildlife when there's a fire like that. The firefighters are really heroic. Unfortunately many of the fires we face here are deliberately lit. It's probably the same in SA? I laughed when I read that your hypoxis is evergreen, because you both didn't know any different!

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    1. of the MANY fires we have recently, one was a lightning strike, another was an electrical fault. The rest sadly are either thoughtless carelessness, or, deliberate arson.

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  8. Such a beautiful plant, I think I would happily grow it for the leaves alone. The fires are quite shocking in their savagery, I know so many plants depend on fire to break their dormancy, but the seemingly endless series of fires must take its toll on land, plants, people...

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    1. if the fires are too close together, shrubby plants like proteas aren't able to set seed. Ideally, after the fire, is when we see little clusters of protea seedlings.

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  9. I have never seen Hypoxis, the leaves look great in a flower-bed, even without flowers.
    The fire is bad news...

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  10. Funny you have evergreens and didn't know it. Another fire ? What's going on ? Great captures of the blaze and men at work. Hope your home and you are safe.

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    1. Sadly summer is fire season. Thank you, we and our home are grateful to the firefighters.

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  11. The mountain looks like a volcano with lava flowing down its side! I once watched an apartment building burn. I can't imagine what it must have been like to see a mountain in flames. Firefighters are real heroes. I love your Summer Gold!

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    1. that erupting volcano of smoke, was the fire at its worst - despite the Southeaster blowing across.

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  12. These fires are so scary....your Summer Gold is such a special plant not just because it has been with your for so long but for its medicinal value too! I will be joining in a week from Monday!

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  13. That wildfire is certainly frightening -- so close. I'm glad they were able to put it out. I've seen Hypoxis before and didn't know what it was, so I'm glad to learn about it. Its fan-shaped leaves are pretty.

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  14. I always think that the thought of being evacuated due to flooding is very scary, fire however is terrifying, glad to hear you are all well. Inadvertently or not, congratulations on keeping a would be dormant plant going.

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  15. How did I miss this? And without the reminder I forgot to write my February Dozen pick. So sorry Diana. I'll do Feb and March together next month. P. x

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    1. No worries - I will enjoy your next choice when it happens.

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