Dorotheanthus bellidiformis (Burm.f) N.E.Br.
Common names: Bokbaaivygie (Afri); Buck Bay vygie (Eng.)
This bright, ground-hugging little annual forms patches of brilliant, almost iridescent colour in spring.
The Bokbaaivygie grows up to 25 cm high and spreads 10 cm. It is a very attractive succulent annual with shiny colourful flowers. Bokbaaivygies have flat leaves that spread slightly as the plants grow older. The leaves are small, green in colour and covered with shiny dots. The flowers are single and may reach up to 5 cm across. They vary in colour from white to pink and shades of orange and yellow. Flowering is from August to mid October. The fruits are dry, soft and have 5 valves that open when it is wet to distribute the seeds.
Distribution and habitat
The Bokbaaivygie grows mostly in the flat, sandy plains near the sea on the Cape Peninsula and up the west coast especially near Ysterfontein and Darling. Bokbaai is situated here and the farm Buck Bay, with its old Cape Dutch homestead, has long been associated with the Duckitts who are well known for their interest in South African flora. These plants can be found from Namaqualand to Stilbaai in the Western Cape.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The name Dorotheanthus was given by Dr Martin Heinrich Schwantes in honour of his mother Dorothea. The genus Dorotheanthus has 6 species in South Africa with 2 of them occurring in Namaqualand. The family Mesembryanthemaceae consists of all the "vygies" and has 124 genera.
Growing Dorotheanthus bellidiformis
Dorotheanthus bellidiformis is best propagated from seed, as they are annuals. Seeds can be sown in trays in March in a light and moist soil medium. Germination will take place between one and three weeks after sowing. Transplanting of seedlings can be done four to five weeks after germination.
Seeds can also be sown straight on to a prepared flower bed. The soil should be light, and well drained with added compost. Do not allow the soil to dry out.
The Bokbaaivygie is commonly used in rockery gardens to provide colour. It may also be used as a mass planting in flowerbeds for striking effect. It is also very attractive when planted between paving stones. This plant can be used in the garden to attract butterflies.
- COOMBES, A.J. 1992. Guide to plant names. Hamlyn, Michelin House, London.
- ELIOVSON, S. 1984. Wild flowers of southern Africa. Department of Agriculture, Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria.
- GOLDBLATT, P. & MANNING, J. 2000. Cape plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria & Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri.
- JOFFE, P. 1993. The gardeners guide to South African plants. Tafelberg, Cape Town.
Moeketsi Samson Letsela
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
SA Distribution: Northern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Purple, Red, White, Pink, Yellow
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Easy