Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oxbow: alpines on skis! (Northern Lesotho)

Arctotis arctotoides
A rather modest DYD to begin this blog: Two Gun Pass is really much higher (several thousand feet) than Oxbow--and our experience up there is rather complicated to relate. Needless to say, 18 people walked most of the way down as our poor Bus driver had issues re-gassing, and fixing vehicle... but the flowers were awesome!
Crassula setulosa ssp. curta
We have grown this in Denver for decades: one of the best hardy crassulas.

Craterocapsa tarsodes
One of several congested, tiny campanulads that abound all over the Drakensberg. The Latin name is almost as long as the plant!

Craterocapsa tarsodes
Another, closer look...
Helichrysum trilineatum (Green leaf form)
One of the commonest high altitude shrubs--this comes in a green, silver and wonderfully wooly form.
Delosperma sp. ign.
I can't believe we never got a better picture of this Delo: a wonderfully tiny one that would be awesome in the Garden.
Romulea thodei
I showed this from Witzieshoek as well--a wonderful cousin to the crocus.
Moraea alpina
The tiniest and cutest of Moraeas--it would make a wonderful trough plant--and probably rock hardy!
Angora goats: "the enemy"
The devastation wrought on Flora by goats and sheep in Lesotho can't be exaggerated.

Crassula peploides
This loves wet spots--on flat rocks that dry out eventually. Often grows with Delosperma seanii-hoganii  which it resembles!

Felicia sp.
A fabulous miniature, shrubby felicia: would LOVE to grow this...

Cerastium sp.
Not the common species in the books: possibly new? Looks a lot like C. beeringianum in Colorado!
Senecio cf. speciosus and Asteraceae
My favorite of many magenta-purple senecios that stud the meadows down here. Not a bad daisy either--not a clue what it is!

Helichrysum albobrunneum
There are a dozen or more large flowered white helichrysums hereabouts: love em all!

Berkheya sp.
Fabulous displays on the faux-thistles of South Africa!
Glumicalyx, probably nutans
A very cool scroph...I was addled at first and put the wrong genus on this abundant and wonderful group of Drak endemics...

Helichrysum trilineatum
The silvery form of the common shrub helichrysum...

Helichrysum praeteritium
We grow this pretty well: but what a pleasure to see it carpeting the tundra for meters at a time!

Helichrysum bellum, H. trilineatum, Geranium magniflorum
We have grown all three of these, although we need to get them going again!

Helichrysum bellum
I first obtained this wonderful species from Olive Hillliard, who monographed this group in South Africa. I love that shimmering white!

Lotononis sp.
A vivid miniature shrub...

Or perhaps an umbel? One of many mysteries here...

Aster erucifolius
 A stunning little morsel!

Selago flanaganii
A tiny alpine race of this strange creature one sees quite often on the Drakensberg.

One of a dozen or more carpeting helichrysums...

Cotyledon orbiculata
Found everywhere in South Africa from sea level to the highest peaks, this may be one of the higher alitutude forms at almost 9000' near a ski area!

Cotyledon orbiculata
Can you tell I like this?
Cotyledon orbiculata
A parting shot...
A mystery Euphorbia growing nearby...

Zantedeschia aethiopica
Not even the dotted leaves high alitude form, this is the form of the common Calla to try growing in cold climates!

Arctotis arctotoides--AGAIN!

Crassula lycopodioides

Delosperma cooperi
I'd seen this in February eight years ago--mostly in seed. It's fun to see it in bloom at this locus classicus!
Othonna sp.
A ubiquitous daisy--not as good as its more succulent cousins in gardens...
Eucomis nana
One of the rarest (and cutest) pineapple lilies...

Typical medly on the mountain!
Delosperma nubigenum
Still with a few flowers: last time only seed...
Delosperma in moss

Eucomis schiffii nearby
A tiny Holothrix orchid, an Othonna and more behind--a treasure trove!
Eumorphia sericea, one of the few shrubs from South Africa that is Colorado hardy.
Eumorphia sericea, again: I love this plant!

The last little blossom on Helichrysum aureum v. scopulosum: we found this all over the Drakensberg...

A strange green orchid (I'll look it up: check back!)

Galtonia viridiflora
One lonely little Galtonia along the river--there were masses on steep, wet slopes near here we never got close enough to photograph. Sorry to end on a bit of an off note! The adventure continues--hang in there!


  1. Excellent and very informative post. I appreciate the vicarious tour. Firstly, I had no idea that Lesotho had mountains that high. And secondly, I am astounding by how many genera are shared with western North America. Finally, how odd to think that common succulents that we grow have counterparts in so exotic a location.

  2. Nice photos again, so cool to see them in habitat, and knowing they come from so high up so they could withstand our winters. Glad to see you are having a great time in SA. Ernie

  3. Thank you, Ernie and Jane: "ex africa semper aliquid novi" as Pliny observed. This trip is no exception, although the flowering in a few areas was subdued because of drought. There is always something new!


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