Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 93, The wildflowers of Namaqualand, South Africa

Marti and Jarca are feeling a little sad today......for no particular reason......

Hmm, I have just the remedy for you, my dears

We are going to make a very quick stop over in the north-west corner of South Namaqualand.


Well it is famous for an extraordinary springtime transformation of the lifeless scrubland, into a veritable explosion of colours from a multitude of small flowers.

Did you know that almost 4,000 different species of plant seeds lie awaiting germination and that depends entirely on what the weather is doing??

Thus every year between July and October brings a different formula, and a different selection of flowers.

People come from all over the world to witness this spectacle, so let's see if we are lucky.....

As we are are driving towards the sun Marti and Jarca cannot see what the fuss is all about, but as soon as they turn their backs to the sun, the full impact of thousands of yellow, white, orange or purple flowers, astounds them!!!!

What at first glance appeared to be a wilderness of semi-desert - arid, dusty plains that stretch before us , dramatic mountains in the background, with little by way of colour or animation - is suddenly transformed, as if by a painter with a manic palette, into a pageant of flowers.

Yes, these flowers are quite "fussy"

  1. The flowers' blooms are dependent on the amount of rainfall that the area receives.
  2. They are sensitive to sunlight and many will only open when there is bright sunshine.
  3. The flowers face the sun, and they generally open completely from about 10 am to 4 pm.
  4. Hot winds can cause the blooms to quickly shrivel.

Namaqualand Flower List

Wow, the flowers and plants of Namaqualand are AWESOME!
aloe dichtoma
namaqualand daisy
namaqua daisy
dimorphotheca sinuata
arctotis gumbletonii
felicia australis

trachyandra falcata
bulbinella latifolia
lachenalia carnosa
antholyza plicata

Aloes also puncture this landscape of the Northern Cape and we know we are in an area of very low rainfall when we started seeing 'Quiver Trees' (Kokerboom - aloe dicotema), so named because the bushmen used the fibrous branches as a quiver for their arrows.....remember we saw them in Namibia??

Yes, Sita , you are right , Namaqualand is home to the Nama people, who are direct descendants of the Khoikhoi bushmen, as can be seen in their pale skin and fine features.

Their culture suffered when the apartheid regime prohibited their strange multi-click language from being taught in schools and forced them to re-locate to other areas.

However, their cultural heritage and customs are slowly returning and their language - which is classified by UNESCO as Endangered - is being taught again and they hope to add it to the school curriculum in the area.

Yes, Nopi and Prasad , you are right ....the stamps I sent you last year were the Namaqualand flowers!

The spring wild flowers are a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze and delight, even for those who live in here....and we feel so blessed to have been able to witness this marvel of nature.....Jarca and Marti now have huge smiles on their faces!

The Namaqualand spring flowers are justifiably world famous.

In a good year this botanical masterpiece puts on a show that is unrivaled anywhere on Earth.

If you experience this natural wonder, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will remember it for the rest of your life.

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