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Plants in the Wild

Going Gazaniac

brilliant red gazania

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

toggle caption 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.

a stream of gazanias

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

toggle caption 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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I love the plant but it does not love me. Thanks for letting me enjoy the plant through your eyes from Africa and Mexico. While you are traveling you should read a fictional creatively humorous book called "Diary of a Wannabe Gardener." You will find it entertaining and inspirational. Preview the book at Enjoy nature and enjoy life. Happy trails to you.

Sent by Dorothy Guyton | 12:03 AM | 8-23-2007

What a coincidence, Dorothy. Did you notice that the author of that book has a name identical to yours? ;-}

Incidentally...Iif anyone's interested in acquiring seed of the perennial gazania featured here, check out this South African seed source:

You'll find it listed as G. krebsiana 'Orange'. Enjoy.

Sent by Ketzel Levine | 6:30 PM | 8-23-2007

I am going to Cape Town in 2 weeks - what seasons were they in bloom ? would I be likely to see them now - I suppose not since this is early Spring in the southern hemiphere

Sent by Susan | 3:36 PM | 8-25-2007

Spring is precisely when you want to go, Susan. Flower display will be completely dependent on how the weather's been. For best places to see flowers (this is all outside Cape Town, of course, not in the city), check out locations and links at my website posting,

Sent by Ketzel Levine | 10:56 AM | 8-26-2007

Ketzel-what's that purple passion flower with the squiggly lines? I love it, I want it!

Sent by Karol | 12:25 AM | 8-27-2007