Spring rains are falling in our region at least and we are being treated to spring flowers blooming, new leaves unfurling and vegetation generally greening up. So here is a quick share of some of the spring flowers gracing our garden.

Wild pear in flower, South Africa

The deciduous small tree, the wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) starts producing its nectar-rich flowers as a harbinger of spring in late July into early August.

Dried flowers on wild pear, South Africa

And this is what the flowers look like now at the end of September – the petals are dry and remaining on the stem surrounding the fruits. When the seeds eventually fall the dry petals help float the seeds off through the air.

Flowering ivy (Natal ivy) in flower, South Africa

A perfect climber for a fence or to cover a tree stump, is the flowering ivy, Senecio macroglossus. It will also creep across the ground. In the wild it often grows on forest margins but also in sandy and rocky places. I have always known it as the Natal ivy but it is also referred to as the Cape ivy. Being a Senecio it is not an ivy at all but a member of the Daisy (Asteraceae) Family. Senecio is the largest genus of flowering plants with about 2000 species worldwide and about 300 native to South Africa.

September bush in flower, South Africa

The September bush (Polygala myrtifolia) is a free-flowering shrubby tree that self-seeds liberally around the garden. A member of the Milkwort (Polygalaceae) Family, interestingly ‘poly’ means ‘much’ and ‘gala’ means ‘milk’ as plants were thought to increase the production of milk in cows. The three flowers in the photo are showing their feathery crests. Carpenter bees especially are attracted to the flowers. 

Small red iris (Freesia laxa) in flower, South Africa

The diminutive Freesia laxa, also known as small red iris, woodland painted petals or flower grass, dies down in the winter and remerges to flower in the spring. Sometimes a wild porcupine squeezes under our back gate to forage in the garden seeking corms and bulbs. Last year a porcupine favoured the Freesia laxa, digging up and eating corms, but in the process seemed to distribute some of those it missed, so this year the flowers are popping up also in new places.

Plumbago in flower, South Africa

Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is an old favourite with old-fashioned gardening connotations, at least for me. Athough still in flower now in our garden, the photograph was taken two months ago against a background of dry leaves. Plumbago auriculata is a member of the Plumbago/Leadwort (Plumbaginaceae) Family. ‘Plumban’ in the name of both the Family and the genus means ‘lead’ and is thought to derive from the belief that some plumbago plants helped cure lead poisoning. There are 10 species in the plumbago genus worldwide with 5 occurring naturally in South Africa. 

Yellow everlasting flowers in bud, South Africa

Currently sprouting up all around the garden, including in the lawn – they are grassland plants after all – are yellow everlasting (Helichrysum cooperi) plants. One of the tallest is just coming into flower. The flowers are everlastingly cheerful and pollinator attracting. Traditionally they have been used as love charms and the genus name derives from ‘helios’ meaning ‘sun’ and ‘chrysos’ meaning ‘gold’, in other words a complete treat. 

Cross-berry flower (Grewia occidentalis), South Africa

The Cross-berry (Grewia occidentalis) has featured often on naturebackin, and I can’t resist featuring it again with this flower photographed yesterday.  Previously it has featured in other posts including as a host plant for processionary caterpillars, which attract caterpillar-eating birds such as the emerald cuckoo, and predatory insects such as the praying mantis.  It has also featured incidentally as a nearby perching tree for nesting chorister robin-chats.

Also featured in the header photo is the natural posy formation of the small orange trumpet-shaped flowers of the wild pomegranate, (Burchellia bulbalina). This year has been a particularly fine season for prolific flowering – attracting many birds, especially sunbirds and sombre bulbuls, as well as many insect pollinators.

Wild pomegranate, (Burchellia bulbalina) flowers, South Africa

Known simply as Mackaya or as the Forest bell-bush, the shrubby Mackaya bella is currently coming into flower. The ‘bella’ part of the name means pretty, which it most definitely is.

Another in the Polygala genus, the purple broom (Polygala virgata) is a tall slender plant that occurs naturally in grassland and along forest margins. ‘Virgata’ means ‘twiggy’ which is descriptive of the form of this plant. In the photo above the flowers are going over and fading in colour but showing rather lovely veining on the drooping petals.

African dog rose (Xylotheca kraussiana) in flower, South Africa

Above is a photo of one of the first flowers on our African dog rose (Xylotheca kraussiana) this spring. This lovely shrubby tree is a larval host plant of the blood red acraea butterfly.

Arum lily or calla lily in flower, South Africa

Known as arum lilies in South Africa and as calla lilies elsewhere  Zantedeschia aethiopica are well known for the sculptural shape of the white spathe that surrounds the spadix and the unseen female flowers at the bottom of the spadix.  The arum is another flowering plant featured before on naturebackin, including a photograph of a Natal forest tree frog (Leptopelis natalensis) nestling inside an arum, and fruit chafers pollinating the flowers in a post on dots and spots in nature. The flower in the photo, taken yesterday, is the first arum to flower in our garden this springtime.

P.S. My husband continues to recover, and this week after seeing another specialist obtained a more complete diagnosis and treatment plan, which is both a great help and a huge relief.

Posted by Carol