Brunsvigias flowering is a natural spectacle that should not be missed. After the rains fell over Easter weekend in Nieuwoudtville, several Brunsvigias have pushed their tender heads through the red clay soil. A few of the flowers were completely or almost completely open, but the rest were in
their dazzling brilliance and display.
The Hantam National Botanical Garden is SANBI’s ninth and largest garden and is where this spectacle is at play. The narcissus-scented Brunsvigia bosmaniae (Maartblom) can be seen in dazzling shades of pink and white, along with the sunny yellow Bulbine alooides and the stunning frangipani-scented Haemanthus coccineus (April fool or rooikwas).
Brunsvigias are deciduous, temperate, bulbous plants. When mature, the leaves are broad and oblong to tongue-shaped. The leaves mostly lie flat on the ground and sometimes press down so firmly that they lie vertically if the bulb is dug up. Brunsvigia has about 20 species in total and is widespread in southern Africa, mostly in the semi-arid areas. Most species are widespread but a small number are naturally rare. Although usually smooth, the upper leaf surfaces of two Namaqualand species (B. radula and B. namaquana) are covered with straw-coloured bristles. The flowers vary from ruby-red to brilliant scarlet or pale to bright pink and in some species the entire inflorescence is attractively coloured. When in flower, the plants are spectacular but the flowering period is brief and restricted to summer and autumn. Pink flowers are the norm.
The excitement has encouraged Hantam Garden staff to persuade people to come and see the flowers. Despite the fact that it had been extremely hot in the town of Nieuwoudtville some Brunsvigias endured the dryness and heat to show us that even under very difficult circumstances they are able to still ‘grow and flower’.
The Hantam National Botanical Garden is located in the Bokkeveld-Hantam-Roggeveld, which is one of SKEP’s eight key priority areas. The garden has more than 6 000 ha on the Bokkeveld Plateau, is world-renowned for its incredible bulbous plant diversity, and also has large natural patches of Succulent Karoo and renosterveld.