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Plants in the Wild

Going Gazaniac

What about those concentric circles and that geometrically perfect face? photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Now that it's been established that I can't tell an annual gazania from a tuberous dahlia, I'd like to introduce you to a straight species gazania — unadulterated by hybridizing — as she once appeared to me in her native South Africa.

Here's some more gazanias in the wild. If you've ever wondered what "natural" planting looks like read it and weep: No artifice, just art. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

On my honor, here's an untouched pix of the South African native, Gazania rigida. Like many native gazanias, she's a perennial in the daisy family, and smolders like coal as she sprawls across the landscape.

On this particular trip to the western Cape in September 2002, the plants stretched every which way along roadsides and across fields. I fondly recall a group of us even botanizing in acres of garbage.

I only bring this long ago but oh! so! delicious! trip to your attention because I'm just back from hiking in New Mexico's Jemez Mountains, where I saw wildflower displays reminiscent of South Africa's western Cape.

Not the same brilliant colors, of course, and certainly not the same flabbergasting array of species; I'm talking 'bout the sheer acreage of bloom. At one point my friend Bill and I were standing in a flowering field of soft violet Erigeron divergens at least 200 ft long and 100 ft wide!

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