Spring Flower Watch: Biedouw Valley
AUG 26, 2020 | Written by Zoë Chapman Poulsen. Photos by Rupert Koopman & Zoë Chapman Poulsen.
Famous for its extraordinary red sandstone rock formations, South Africa’s Cederberg mountains are popular with hikers and adventure lovers alike, seeing the peace of wild landscapes within easy reach of Cape Town.
Towering above the small towns of Clanwilliam and Citrusdal, the Cederberg is often dusted with snow on the highest peaks during the winter months. This mountain range is named after the Clanwilliam Cedar (Widdringtonia wallichii) which is endemic to the area and at the brink of extinction.
View into the Biedouw Valley from the Tra Tra Mountains. Photo: Rupert Koopman.
One of the main roads ascending the Cederberg is the Pakhuis Pass, which leads eastwards to the turnoff that winds gently and then steeply down into the Biedouw Valley. This beautiful place is a mecca for those looking to see beautiful displays of spring blooms without making the longer journey to Namaqualand further north.
A rewarding feature of this route is seeing how the vegetation changes from fynbos in the west transitioning to succulent karoo as the amount of annual precipitation drops heading east into the Tanqua.
Above: During spring local farmers restrict their livestock from grazing in the Biedouw Valley, allowing a spectacular array of flowers to come into bloom. Photo: Zoë Chapman Poulsen.
Located between the Biedouw mountains to the north and the Tra Tra mountains to the south, the Biedouw Valley is one of the centres of the rooibos tea growing industry. Enjoyed all over the world, the rooibos tea plant (Aspalathus linearis) is only grown commercially in the Cederberg area and surrounds.
During spring local farmers restrict their livestock from grazing in the Biedouw Valley, allowing a spectacular array of flowers to come into bloom, much to the enjoyment of the many visitors who enjoy this popular place. The main displays are an array of daisies and Heliophila but the many stunning geophytes to be found are also pleasant on the eye.
Above: Spectacular spring flower displays in the Biedouw Valley. Photo: Rupert Koopman.
The small and delicate spring favourite Moraea gawleri come in a variety of different colours from cream to yellow or brick red. They bloom fleetingly, found growing on both deep sands and clays in fynbos or renosterveld vegetation from Namaqualand to Humansdorp.
Above: Moraea gawleri. Photo: Zoë Chapman Poulsen.
Cyanella alba is easily recognised by its delicate cream coloured blooms that often have a hint of yellow. The flowers smell much like Magnolias. Flowering from August to October, this species grows on sandstone or clay slopes from the Bokkeveld mountains to the western Karoo.
Above: Cyanella alba. Photo: Zoë Chapman Poulsen.
Lapeirousia divaricata is often seen blooming en masse in the Biedouw Valley during spring with its delicately fragrant blooms. This species grows in damp sandy areas from the Bokkeveld mountains southwards to Citrusdal.
Above: Lapeirousia divaricata. Photo: Zoë Chapman Poulsen.
Right now is one of the best Biedouw valley flower seasons in a while due to higher rainfall in the eastern Cederberg than in the last few years.
Above: Lapeirousia divaricata blooming en masse in the Biedouw Valley. Photo: Zoë Chapman Poulsen.
Look out for next week’s edition of Spring Flower Watch, where we will be continuing our virtual botanical tour to some of the Cape’s special spring flower sites.
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