Tuesday 21 May
Blue Afrikaner (Gladiolus carinatus)
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Blue Afrikaner fact file
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Blue Afrikaner description
The blue Afrikaner, a member of the iris family, has an unusual purple stem, mottled with white. The strongly scented flowers may be shades of blue, violet or yellow, and occasionally pink, and measure up to 30 millimetres wide (2) (4). The narrow, grass-like leaves of the blue Afrikaner have a prominent midrib, and underground, food for the plant is stored in a swollen stem base (2) (5).
- Height: 30 – 60 cm (2)
Blue Afrikaner biology
The blue Afrikaner flowers between the months of August and September (2), when the strong scent of the blooms attract bees, which carry out pollination. The shape of the flower readily accommodates the head and thorax of the bee, and as it climbs into the flower in search of a sip of nectar, it receives a dusting of pollen (6). The blue Afrikaner is primarily pollinated by Anthophora bee species (A. diversipes, A. krugeri, and A. schulzei) and the European honey bee Apis mellifera (7).Top
Blue Afrikaner range
The blue Afrikaner occurs in South Africa, where it is distributed from Namaqualand, south and east to Knysna (2).Top
Blue Afrikaner habitat
Inhabits sandstone slopes or deep coastal sands (2).Top
Blue Afrikaner statusTop
Blue Afrikaner threats
Although the blue Afrikaner species is not currently considered threatened, the subspecies G. c. parviflorus has been classified as Rare, meaning that the population is so small, an unexpected threat could cause a critical decline (3). The blue Afrikaner occurs in the Cape Floristic Region, an area of incredibly high plant diversity, which is known to be threatened by urban expansion, the encroachment of agriculture, and the invasion of alien plant species (8) (9).Top
Blue Afrikaner conservation
Within the Cape Floristic Region there are a number of protected areas (10), and a number of conservation organisations are working to conserve this botanically rich habitat. Conservation actions include purchasing land to protect it from the threats of encroaching agriculture and urban development (11), the removal of alien plants, and the establishment of new protected areas (8), measures which should hopefully protect the rare subspecies of the blue Afrikaner from becoming seriously threatened.Top
Find out more
For further information on the Cape Floristic Region and its conservation see:
- Wild Cape Nature Trust:
- Conservation International: Biodiversity Hotspots:
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- Cape Floristic Region
- An area occupying about 90,000 square kilometres in South Africa that contains an incredibly high diversity of plant species (around 8,700 species), of which 68 percent are found no where else.
- The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J. (2000) Cape Plants: A Conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. National Botanical Institute of South Africa, Pretoria .
- Hilton-Taylor, C. (1996) Red Data List of Southern African Plants. Strelitzia 4. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.
- Paterson-Jones, C. and Manning, J. (2007) Ecoguide Fynbos. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa.
- Allaby, M. (1998) Dictionary of Plant Sciences. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Goldblatt, P., Manning, J.C. and Bernhardt, P. (1998) Adaptive radiation of bee-pollinated Gladiolus species (Iridaceae) in southern Africa. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 85(3): 492 - 517.
- Goldblatt, P., Manning, J.C. and Bernhardt, P. (2001) Radiation of pollination systems in Gladiolus (Iridaceae: Crocoideae) in southern Africa. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 88(4): 713 - 734.
- Conservation International: Biodiversity Hotspots (February, 2008)
- Rouget, M., Richardson, D.M., Cowling, R.M., Lloyd, J.W. and Lombard, A.T. (2003) Current patterns of habitat transformation and future threats to biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems of the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Biological Conservation, 112: 63 - 85.
- UNEP-WCMC: Cape Floral Protected Areas of South Africa (February, 2008)
- Fauna and Flora International (February, 2008)
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