24 February 2011

April Fool in February?


Surprise! the April Fool is coming into flower in the Biodiversity Garden.
Haemanthus coccineus is a member of the Amaryllis family. In winter it produces two big flat leaves and then goes completely dormant during summer, with nothing showing above the ground. In autumn a spectacular flower appears - like magic! After flowering, fleshy seeds are produced and the flower stalk eventually collapses, so the ripe seeds are released in early winter - just in time for the rains.

These bulbs were rescued by the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management Branch from a development site on the Cape Flats. They spent some time at the old abatoir in Maitland (which is where the Biodiversity Dept is based), and the hundred-odd bulbs were then donated to the Biodiversity Garden.

Signs of creativity in the Khoikhoi fire hearth display: red and yellow ochre... looks like they had fun!


  1. Stunning.

    We saw two in bloom at Stanford in early Feb.


  2. Wow - tomatoes!

    My grandson collected shells from Fish Hoek Beach and I have also got a couple of things for the midden - hope to put them there soon.

  3. Marie - yes, I don't think I've ever seen Haemanthus flowering as late as April here at the Cape. Maybe further north (hotter, drier) it does flower later.
    Yikes! - that reminds me: must go and haul my two pots of Haemanthus off the 'dormancy shelf'. They may be in bud already!

    Lynn - thanks for collecting for the shell midden.