Friday, January 23, 2015

In the heart of Lesotho (Semonkong and Malealea)

Aloe polyphylla
Aloes will be a leitmotif of this posting--since our two locations in central Lesotho were in the heart of the range of Aloe polyphylla--which, alas, due to many circumstances (one being a high river level) we were thwarted from seeing in nature. It was abundant in gardens there, however! Above, one of many at the lodge at Semonkong.

My good buddy, Bill Adams, is here seen mimicking the pose of the Aloe rather dashingly, don't you agree?

Jamesbrittenia sp.
A wonderful little Sutera growing wild nearby...
Phygelius capensis across from the lodge
Of course, Phygelius grows everywhere in the Drakensberg--but not often so picturesquely as it did across from the Lodge.
Cotyledon foliage but look above!

Aloe aristata
Taken with a telephoto from forty or so feet below! Most A. aristata were in plump green seed, but this one had a late flower still!

Mystery Delosperma sp. "Semonkong"
Growing much like D. cooperi does at Oxbow, this rather delicate, twiggy delosperma was tucked here and there all over the cliff. I don't have a clue what it is--except that it looks more like floribundum than any of the usual Drakensberg species.

Delosperma sp. "Semonkong"
Closer view...

Another close view of Delosperma sp. "Semonkong"

To continue the Aloe theme--Cotyledon has apparently been sunk in the former genus...HORRORS!
I don't buy it: I still call this Cotyledon orbiculata...

MORE of the mystery Delosperma...growing among the lichens. I rather liked this effect.

And more "Aloe" (gag) orbiculata...

Dianthus sp. with Psammotropha mucronata at the base...
I am always shocked to see dianthus in South Africa--and they are legion and abundant. Yesterday, the field full of Lithops near Heidelberg was full of dianthus in seed.

A Euryops in full glory at Semonkong

Selaginella grows everywhere in the Drakensberg and beyond here: many species.

Strange to see Delosperma and Cotyledon growing in open soil among weeds.

Phygelius capensis
Blogspot decided to separatre the closeups from the overall shot way back in this sequence: sorry! You'll have to toggle to see them together!

Another closeup of same

And an overall shot after all...

More of the mystery Delosperma sp. Semonkong
There are quite a few of us devotees of this genus (which is indirectly responsible for propelling me hither seven times). Bear with me if you're not smitten--these are for them!

Delosperma sp. Semonkong closeup

A Moraea in the huttonii complex in seed.

Part of the group at Semonkong--we live in style!

Breathtaking specimens of Crinum bulbispermum (albino) at the Lodge...

The local delo planted at the Lodge!

Crinum bulbispermum (albino)

Crinum bulbispermum (albino)

Two of the singers listening to their colleagues at Malealea Lodge--to the south of Semonkong.

the Boy's band..they were good.

The singers: I bought their C.D.--incredible harmonies.

Anchusa capensis--in Plant Select!--here in the wild.

Composites everywhere--here, a Senecio I believe...(equivalent to our summer daisy season)

Not so helpful directional sign.

Agave americana, pretending it's an Aloe...

Another view--the green green countryside belies the devastating overgrazing due to "open range" traditions.

Sutherlandia (or is it Lessertia?) montana: one of my faves. In not quite seed.

Aloe saponaria I believe...wild.

The countryside near Malealea: Africa grabs your soul. Believe me.

A charming Hermannia sp.  ign.

Polygalas are everywhere in all shapes and sizes...

An amazing orange flowered Phygelius capensis--not far from Semonkong (out of sequence--sorry)

Senecio speciosus by the thousand on the long and spectacular pass to Semonkong

Delosperma cf. lavisiae in the grass...

A tiny Limosella in a bog.

Ranunculus are much rarer here than in the northern Hemisphere.

Miles of Dierama robustum along the pass...

A fine specimen of Dierama robustum...

Senecio speciosus

Senecio speciosus

I shall end with a series of shots of a Kniphofia caulescens meadow: the essence of the Drakensberg!

I have left little fragments of my heart all over this magnificent region. Africa! I love you.


  1. Stunning … as always. You really need a roadie or two to assist you on your trips!!!

    1. We were 19 on this one, Cliff! The more the merrier...

  2. Wonderful pics again, so nice to see. I think the Senecio speciosus looks a lot like S. macrocephalus, which is totally hardy here. The "senecio" sp looks like H. splendidum to me, but I couldn't make out the flowers that well and I know you are familiar with it, the hermannia looks like the H coccocarpa you collected a long while back and that I still grow. Can't wait to hear more stories when you get back. Ernie

  3. Perfect. Thank you.


  4. It is so neat seeing all that growing in the rocks- great photos- thanks for the tour!!

  5. I have been enjoying your pictures. I am left wondering, "Why so many reddish flowers when South Africa does not have hummingbirds?"

  6. South Africa has sunbirds, which perform the same function! I'll get some pictures of them up before long....

  7. Oh PK, I can't even imagine experience 1% of what you all are seeing right now~ Enjoy! Say, is Bill nearly as prickly as that aloe? I now need to go look at your other posts, as I was waiting to read about all of this on FB, but on here - it's so much better!

  8. Knowing the origins of phygelius, delosperma, dierama, euryops, aloes, etc is one thing, but seeing these photos of them in situ is thrilling. What a mother ship of good garden plants. And I'm bummed to learn that cotyledon is getting subsumed into aloe!

  9. What fabulous pictures and what grand memories they bring Thanks PK I just got home last night so this is the first time I have seen them. Ann and Ihad a super time in Namibia nothing floral to speak of but full of adventure flying around in in Cessna 210 and riding the sand dunes in a 4x4 talk soon Barbara

  10. very informative!

    do you have an email address where I can contact you?


    my apologies!


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