Few floral displays rival the unbridled beauty of Namaqualand in full bloom. People fly from around the globe in the hopes of making it for the peak bloom period that lasts a matter of weeks. This year is no different, and it is said to be one for the books.
As a flower viewing novice, we will give you a short introduction to the region. This article is the first in a series that will cover all the prominent locations and special bulbs of Namaqualand.
The History of Namaqualand Flowers
Africa is ancient, so it should come as no surprise that Namaqualand is steeped in a rich history dating back 3 million years to the first hominids. It has been famed for copper, diamonds and more recently oil, but to naturalists, the most precious items are the plants.
Did you know? Namaqua refers to a collective term for the Nama, a cultural group that has called the area home for centuries.
The semi-arid desert is a harsh climate with average annual rainfall between 50-250 mm, yet when the winter rains are bountiful, the arid environments bursts into spectacular colour. These super blooms occur when all the environmental conditions converge to form the perfect blooming. Of all the species, it is the masses of Namaqualand daisies that grab the eye of even the most avid city dweller.
Interesting flower facts:
- There are 3500 different species.
- 25% are endemic, which means they occur only here.
- In 1915, Mr FW Duckitt and Ms DJ Malan started building the Wild Flower Society.
- In 1917, the first Wild Flowers Show was held in Darling.
- In 1999, Namaqua Nature Reserve was proclaimed.
- In 2008, Namaqualand Flower Festival started.
The spring fever gradually developed into flower tourism, which took off after 1994 to welcome people from around the globe. These days, flower farms clear former paddocks in favour of a sea of daisies, while millennials stream into the Namaqualand Flower Festival to run between the flower fields.
Photo by Elena Longanson on Pixabay.
When and Where?
This is the golden question that many ask upon hearing of the flowers. There is an old saying that goes:
“If the kokerbome are in full bloom, a brilliant spring flower display awaits.”
The flowers are a yearly event, but super blooms require a good seed bank, winter rain and the right temperatures. If the temperatures dip too low or rise too high, the flowers wilt. Predicting which seven days would be ideal can be difficult. Some general guidelines are in order, to help the newcomer to the region.
Guidelines for viewers
-*To learn more about flower hotspots stay tuned for the second instalment of this series.
Flower names for beginners
There are a couple of flowers that are so iconic that you will see them everywhere. This is a great time to teach newcomers a few names.
Here are some great examples:
If you are keen to learn more about the region and its flora, be sure to keep an eye on the rest of our Namaqualand series airing each week for this month.