Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest” where we’ll be looking at a member of the carnation family.
Dianthus basuticus subsp. basuticus (known as the Lesotho Dianthus, Lesotho Carnation or Drakensberg Carnation in English, Lesothose grootblom-wilde angelier in Afrikaans or hlokoa-la-tsela in Sisotho), is a dicotyledonous herb which often forms small mats on rocky grass slopes, crevices of rock sheets and on cliffs. “Dios” refers to divine (scent) whilst “anthos” refers to the flower, most likely referring to the heavenly scent of some species in the genus. What makes it interesting is that there are only 4 species of Dianthus growing in the entire Eastern Free State. D. basuticus subsp. basuticus was photographed on the Kloof Mountain Trail (Distr. Eastern Mountain Region – Mpumalanga) which would make sightings of this species rare unless you are eager for a bit of a climb. This little herb grows at altitudes of between 1400 and 3050 m A.S.L.
The leaflets are basal (arising from the base of the plant) and resemble a dense tuft of grass. From a biological perspective this is interesting as it ensures that the plant remains well concealed for the part of the year when its not in flower. The leafes measure approximately 100 mm long by 15 mm in diameter.The flowers are always solitary on their flowering stems (110 – 450 mm long) but may occur in their myriads in one specific location. The flower is relatively small (30 mm diameter) and shades from white to pale to bright pink. What makes it attractive is the toothed or even long fringed margins which gives it a somehow almost feminine or elegant appearance. Flowering occurs from late November – March.
Traditionally used in the sisotho culture as a love charm (ahem single ladies and gentlemen). Also used in other traditional medicine’s and magic.
D. basuticus subsp. basuticus has reportedly been used to increase the fertility rate of bulls.
Although no status was found it is most likely classified as of Least Concern (LC).