Blast of brightness

2016-06-15 06:00
‘Kleinia fulgens’, coral senecio, indigenous - wonderful drought-resistant flowers.                Photo: L. Drogemoller

‘Kleinia fulgens’, coral senecio, indigenous - wonderful drought-resistant flowers. Photo: L. Drogemoller

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THEY are a blast of welcome colour in the drought- stricken gardens of Umvoti.
Kleinia fulgens is a tender evergreen perennial with soft stems, silver-grey leaves and bright red flowers. The name fulgens means shining in Latin, referring to the intense flower colour.

In the photo the three stages of the flower head are clearly visible - firstly there is the pendulous bud covered in a row of green involucral bracts dangling on a peduncle unable to hold it erect. As the flower begins to open, its stalk gains power, pulling the capitulum gradually into an erect position, like a soldier coming to attention.

Thus arrives the second phase of full flourish, the flower head being presented upright for all to admire and the pollinators to make themselves useful.

Lastly, the tiring stalk lets the developing seed head down again, bent under the weight of the emerging fruits inside. Each successful disc flower forms one fruit attached to a pappus, a ring of tiny thread-like bristles waiting to act as a dispersal parachute when the moment comes.

The seed head, the white woolly tuft of fruits in full kit is held in position by the involucre until ripeness comes. Then release, flight on a pappus wing into the world for starting a new life if blown on the wind to a suitable spot

(Capon, 2005;

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