The blackened hillsides are now miraculously covered with a myriad of fynbos popping up. For many years these areas were shaded by a canopy of alien invasive species, now there is sun and lots of nutrients from in the soil after the fire.
I found it amazing how the ericas have recovered once the dead matter has been removed, bietou is popping up everywhere, karee is sprouting at the base, and the little Albuca sp looks its best in many years. Another fire dependent little shrub, Hibiscus aethiopica, which I haven’t seen for years has also made an appearance on the hillsides.
Residents of Eastford are now treated to a splendid display of Bobartia aphylla. These plants can easily be confused with restios, but once they are flowering the yellow star shaped flowers will tell you they are not restios, in fact they belong to the Iris family.
There is another species of Bobartia growing in the southern Cape, Bobartia robusta which grows on the mountain slopes around George and is especially prolific after fires. Bobartia aphilla is smaller and more slender than the previous species, it is only 300 – 700 mm tall. Several bright yellow flowers appear in a terminal cluster on an erect stem; the spathe is green and grows well above the flowers. It is found on poor and often burnt ground on mountain slopes and flats from Mossel Bay to Knysna. It flowers from August to April.
Bobartia is named for Jacob Bobart (1599 – 1680), German botanist who was the first Head Gardener of the Oxford Physic Garden, which was the first such garden in England. He catalogued 1600 plants that were in the garden in 1648.
Meaning of aphylla: From the Greek a (without), phyllon (leaf), and anthos (flower); the flowers appear on leafless stems