Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at an attractive specimen of the Iridaceae family.
Crocosmia paniculata (Falling Stars in English, Vallende Stetetjies in Afrikaans and khahla-ea-Bokone in Sesotho), is an evergreen herbaceous species that typically grows to between 1 – 1.8 m, usually in clumps rather than solitary. Krocos – saffron and osme – smell, refers to the saffron-like aroma of the dried flowers once placed in warm water. This vivacious wildflower bares an affinity for moist grassland areas and may be observed in close proximity to rivers, streams and forest margins. The plant has been recorded at altitudes of up to 1500 m A.S.L.
This particular specimen was found growing on a section of the Spruit hiking trail just above Lake Clarens adjacent to one of the recently installed wooden bridges (also in close proximity to an old willow covered in a form of bracket fungi/mushroom – giving the area a sort of magical ambiance and a slightly disconnected sense from the rest of reality).
The leaves of C. paniculata (not Cussonia paniculata as covered in an earlier PoI), are crimped and measure approx. 750 mm by 60 mm. The inflorescence is dense with ZigZaging (alternative common name) branchlets. These beautiful flowers are curved, tubular orange/yellow- scarlet red and around 75 mm long with 3 short (30 mm) tepals and sepals and 3 yellow anthers. Flowering Dec – end Feb. Uses:
Used as a traditional medicine in the treatment of dysentery and infertility.
Makes for an attractive and in fact rather spectacular garden plant when planted in the front garden, so long as sufficient moisture and semi-shade is provided. Many plants of this genus have been domesticated and hybridised for this very purpose. Has been known to become invasive in grasslands; however this has not been observed to be the case anywhere within the C.V.C.
The SANBI conservation status for C. paniculata has been recorded as of Least Concern.
Article and photographs by Damien Coulson (Head Ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve)