Saturday, April 30, 2016


I like spending time in botanic gardens. For the purposes of becoming better at plant identification, it's nice to be able to look at a plant and have a label nearby that tells me 'the answer'. However, in most gardens, many of the labeled specimens are exotics or hybrids. Nevertheless, looking at the plants and studying their characteristics, then connecting them to the genera listed, still seems like a good way for me to learn more.

Two weeks ago we made our first trip of the season to our local botanic garden, Old Westbury Gardens. Being so close, we became members here last year, and find that it's a great place to bring our daughter for a few hours of running around outside. These little plants caught my eye, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they're native to South Africa. Well, to be clear, as someone who studies invasion biology, I didn't think that was so great, but as someone who's spent sometime studying the flora of the Cape Region of South Africa, seeing these guys made me feel a bit nostalgic.

Nemisia hybrid
Their were a number of different varieties, all equally pretty I think.

Nemesia fruiticans

This last one was particularly stunning.

Nemesia hybrid

While writing this post, I looked up Nemesia in the book Field Guide to Fynbos. I was happy to see the genus in there, but not surprised that N. fruiticans (they only one of these three with a species name) was not listed. This field guide is not exhaustive. But the generic description sounds pretty right - leaves opposite, variously toothed, flowers solitary, combinations of white, yellow, orange, pink, or blue, calyx 5-lobed, corolla 5 lobed and strongly 2-lipped. There are about 60 different species of these little guys, about 25 in the fynbos.