Lachnaea densiflora Meisn.
Common names: blushing mountain carnation (Eng.); bergangelier (Afr.)
The rare Lachnaea densiflora flowers in spring along the Palmiet River and in the Klein River Mountains to Bredasdorp in the Western Cape.
This is a much-branched shrublet, up to 500 mm tall. It has ascending, awl-like to narrowly elliptical and alternate leaves, up to 10 mm long.
The plant bears small, cream to dark pink flowers in well-defined, rounded heads, each less than 5 mm long. Petals are absent. The calyx is woolly on the outside. It flowers from September to January.
Lachnaea densiflora is listed as NT (Near Threatened). The populations occurring between Rooi-Els and Bredasdorp are declining as a result of urban development and invasion by alien plants.
Distribution and habitat
Lachnaea densiflora is restricted to the Western Cape, extending from the southern parts of the Cape Peninsula eastwards to Bredasdorp. It is predominately a coastal species, but has been recorded to occur on acid sandy flats of low elevation on the Peninsula and along the Palmiet River, and in the Klein River Mountains.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Lachnaea was established by Linnaeus (1793), based on two species L. eriocephala and L. conglomerata. Lachnaea is derived from the Greek lachneeis meaning ‘woolly’, which alludes to the woolly inflorescences of several members of the group. The specific epithet, densiflora, is a Latin name from densus, meaning ‘dense’ or ‘thick’ and flos, meaning ‘flowers’. It was named densiflora because of its dense flowers.
The genus Lachnaea is endemic to the Cape Floristic Region. It belongs to the Thymelaeaceae, a medium-sized family comprising about 50 genera and 700 species. There are about 29 species in the southwestern Cape, of which 7 occur in this area.
Lachnaea densiflora is wind pollinated.
There are no recorded uses for this specific species, but the fibre bark family, Thymelaeaceae including genera such as Gnidia, Passerina and Lachnaea were traditionally used by San and Khoi-khoi to manufacture string and rope.
Growing Lachnaea densiflora
This is an attractive plant, but difficult to propagate.
It is reported that Lachnaea densiflora can be propagated by cuttings. Cuttings are taken in autumn: dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone and plant them in a soil mixture of peat and loam. Place the cuttings on a heated bench (25˚–27˚C); rooting can take up to six weeks.
At the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, numerous attempts have been made to propagate this species by means of cuttings, but with little success.
- Burman, l. & Bean, A. 1985. Hottentots Hollands to Hermanus . Wild Flower Guide 5. Botanical Society of South Africa, Cape Town.
- Germishuizen, G., Meyer, N.L., Steenkamp, Y. & Keith, M. 2006. A checklist of South African Plants . South African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 41. SABONET, 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.
- Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. 2000a. Wild flowers of the fairest Cape. Red Roof Design, Cape Town.
- Manning, J. 2007. Field guide to Fynbos. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.
- Mustart, P., Cowling, R. & Albertyn, J. 1997. Southern Overberg: South African Wild Flower Guide 8. Botanical Society of South Africa, Cape Town.
- Smith, C.A. 1966. Common names of South African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No. 35. Government Printer, Pretoria.
Nosiphelele Patricia Mapukata
Harold Porter NBG
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring
Flower colour: Cream
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Challenging