Barleria monticola (Berg Barleria in English) is a perennial which may obtain a height of 300-400mm and tends to grow in small semi-rounded clumps in moist grassveld areas, growing in relative abundance particularly on mountain slopes and in close proximity to sandstone rock shelves. Distribution is from the Eastern Free State through to KZN. Flowering occurs from mid-September – late November.
This attractive specimen of the Berg Barleria was photographed on the slopes of the Kloof Mountain Trail where they were observed for the first time this season (for some unfathomable reason) by the author. The mauve flowers contrast pleasantly with the bright green leaves which in turn make for a striking plant against the more uniform mountainside foliage. Understandably then, the species name monticola is derived from the Greek montane meaning “arising from the mountain” or “mountain residing”.
The sessile leaves (40mmX20-25mm) of B. monticola are lanceolate-ovate, tufted; soft and covered in velvety long hears. The margins are entire and the apices are pointed. The stems are also velvety while the inflorescence takes the form of a terminal spike. The overlapping 5-petaled flowers are mauve, measuring around 30mm and always occur at the apex of the tightly clustered leaves, held aloft by a short (approx. 20mm), silky stalk. Uses:
This species is frost resistant and drought tolerant, making it a relatively hardy species. B. monticola grows in special abundance after fires and in warmer than average spring seasons, where its presence in the veld is nothing short of spectacular. It would thus make for a very attractive garden ornamental, especially when grown in full sunlight conditions.
The nectar-rich flowers attract many species of butterfly and bees and are thus ecologically significant from a pollination perspective. When ripe and exposed to moisture, the brown seed capsules explode, ensuring a viable population for the next generation. These will then develop in close proximity to the parent plant.
The conservation status of B. monticola according to SANBI is listed as of Least Concern (LC).