The Darling Wildflower Show

The Darling Wildflower Show has been presented by the Darling Wildflower Society since 1917, and the work is substantiallly done by volunteers. The work of the society focusses on two significant aspects of renosterveld, namely its unique character and the urgent need for its conservation. This has led to the recent founding of the Darling Wildflower Trust, and whilst continuing to support local charities, the income from the show now mainly goes towards conservation initiatives like the Darling Flora Project.

As there are too many plants on show to label each individually, an example of each plant is provided on the specimen tables. Here you can find the full name of each plant, and view related species. In addition, this year, there is a unique display of lichens compiled by the experienced and respected amateur botanist Dr. Pixie Littlewort.The show is designed around the different soil types found in the Darling district. The marked difference between the plantlife of the various soil types is due to the variations in humidity and in physical and chemical composition, although many plants happily grow in more than one habitat. Renosterveld is mostly found in the rich clay-soils of the Western and Eastern Cape, and is often confused with fynbos which grows in poorer soils. Most of the rain occurs between April and September (150 – 300mm). The show therefore represents a concentration of plants which flower in spring, although many of the plants also flower throughout the year. The Darling district represents a diverse flora of about 1200 species. Approximately 80 (6,5%) are endemic, whilst the rest also occur in other areas. One should keep in mind that during springtime there are a myriad of pollinators at work, such as wasps, flies, mice and sunbirds; the conservation of our local flora ensures healthy biodiversity of the whole area.

Renosterveld is primarily the flora of the Swartland. It is named after the key plant species renosterbos. Because the soil is very fertile, about 90% has been eradicated by agriculture. Fine- and granular-leaved shrubs like Eriocephalus, Elytropappus and Stoebe are typical. Geophytes like Geissorhiza, Babiana and Gladioli have some of the loveliest flowers of this region. Where water collects it causes marshy conditions and this is known locally as renosterveld "vlei". Here one typically finds Zantedescia aethiopica (arum), Drosera (sundew), Watsonia marginata (pink/mauve watsonia), Ornithogalum thyrsoides (chinkerinchee) and Onixotis stricta (rice flower).

Granite Hills
Granite Hills can be regarded as another type of renosterveld, but is especially rich in succulents such as Aloe perfoliata (wreath aloe), Mesembryanthemaceae (vygies/mesembs) and Orbea variegata (carrion flower). Geophytes like Ixia monadelpha (mottled ixia), Gladiolus alatus (kalkoentjie/turkey), Lachenalia aloides (rock violet) and Romulea eximia (Darling romulea) are some of the more spectacular bulbs flowering on these hills. Typical shrubs are Eriocephalus africanus (capoc bush) en Lobostemon fruticosus (pyjama bush).

Sandveld consists of deep, sandy, and sometimes chalky soil. Restios like Wildenowia incurvata (sonqua reed), Chondropetalum tectorum (elephant reed) and Thamnochortus spicigerus (dune reed) are typical. This soil is relatively poor and there are few large shrubs, although smaller shrubs like Phylica stipularis (honde-gesiggie/doggy face), Staavia radiata (altyd/ever bush), Stoebe plumosa (snake bush) en Metalasia densa (blombos/flower bush) grow profusely. Typical spring flowering plants are ground-covers Asteraceae and Scrophulariaciae. The Sandveld also features marshy areas and here one finds plants that thrive near or in water, such as Lachenalia unicolor (purple violet), the edible waterplant Aponogeton distachyos (water urchin) and Gladiolus angustus (long pypie).

Strandveld shows open shrubby plant growth and features few endemic or rare species. Woody plants like Chrysanthemoides monilifera (bietou), Olea capensis (iron wood), Euclea racemosa (candle bush), and Rhus glauca (taaiblaar/tough leaf) are typical. The relatively rich soil causes most plants to bear fleshy fruits and this attracts large numbers of birds.

96th Darling Wildflower Show 20 -22 Sept 2013

The Darling Wildflower Show takes place annually over the third weekend in September at the Darling Club.
Friday 20 September at 09:00
Dates: 20, 21 and 22 September 2013
Venue: The Sports Club in Darling
Entry: To be advised

The entrance fee includes entry to the landscaped hall and as well as a free ride on a tractor drawn wagon to see the Oude Post wetland that can only be seen during the show.

A hall will be landscaped with Darling wildflowers, from the most fragile and rare to the ones easily found. Craft and fun stalls with goodies await you. There are also many and various food and refreshment stalls to cater for the inner man. This year your entrance ticket of only R30 includes a lazy tractor ride to a private vlei that is otherwise inaccessible to the public where you will be able to view some of the most spectacular flowers in situ.

For more information:
Tel: 084 916 1111

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