Diascia integerrima

 

Diascia integerrima.  Clarens Village Nature Reserve
Photo: D. Coulson
Diascia integerrima.  Clarens Village Nature Reserve Diascia integerrima.  Clarens Village Nature Reserve

This week we’re focusing on another member of the aptly named Scrophulariaceae(Snapdragon) family.

Diascia integerrima (Swinspur in English, Pensies in Afrikaans and Leilanenyana in Sesotho), is a slender, erect and tufted perennial herb attains a height of between 200-500mm. It grows in a variety of ecotypes including cliffs, rock faces, dry gritty soil, and along stream-banks. In Lesotho these flowers can become fairly prominent along roadsides. D. integerrima occurs throughout the Eastern Free State, northeastern Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal, and grows at altitudes of up to 2865m A.S.L.

Observing these flowers in mountainous areas is really a must-see, especially as it often grows among other high-altitude plants in summer, such as Kniphofias, geraniums, aloes and of course the Blue-Scilla. The genus Diascia, is only found in southern Africa and comprises 70 species. Diascia is derived from a combination of the greek “di” or 2 and “askos” or sac, which refers to the 2 oil containing spurs.

The leaves of D. integerrima differ somewhat from its brethren in that they are lanceolate (as opposed to roughly obovate), but may be slightly serrated at the base. Leaf measurements are 13-40 mm long X 1-3mm wide and are usually clumped at the base of the stems with a few smaller leaves towards the top. The flowers are a dull-bright pink, measuring approx. 10mm wide by 20mm long with rounded petal lobes, a raised keel and often show numerous tiny gland dots on the mouth and a yellow and maroon window (concave patch at the flowers centre). The 2 spurs are incurved at the tips orientated vertically with spreading calyx lobes. These are found at the back of the flower, and give rise to the English common name. The stems are square, blue-green and somewhat woody although still touch-soft. This plant flowers Dec-late March

Gardening

This lovely wildflower is also a jewel in the garden as it is relatively hardy and flowers throughout summer.

Ecological service

These flowers are pollinated by specially adapted oil-collecting bees. The bees modified front legs are designed to allow them to scoop oil from the 2 spurs. Several weeks later round seeds form in green capsules, which when brown, split open releasing the ripe seed.

Conservation Status

The SANBI conservation status for D. integerrima is listed as Least Concern.

 

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Article and photography by

Damien Coulson

Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve

 

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