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Namaqualand | Flower Guide

Published on August 26th 2021

by Going.Local. All rights reserved

namaqualand bulbs
The gorgeous swaths of flowers in such a semi-desert environment make one long to know more. Where do these colourful creations come from? What are their names? How many years did it take them to produce this colourful array? We will be answering all these burning questions and more.
If you missed out on the rest of the Namaqualand series, make sure to take a peek at Part 1 and Part 2. It covers when and where to go flower viewing, as well as some tips and tricks to make your flower viewing experience worthwhile.
rain daisy


In Part 1 of the Namaqualand series, we introduced the flowers that form the carpets of colour, namely daisies. They are so abundant that some refer to them as beautiful weeds. The most renowned is the Namaqua daisy, however, there are also Beetle daisies, Rain Daisy, Red daisy, African daisy, Jackal daisy and the ever-popular Livingstone Daisy.
Namaqualand snaps:



Fun Fact | The common name daisy has been applied to flowering plants from different genera.
Some daisies are annuals, which means the seeds germinate, grow and flower in a single year. The cycle repeats every year and, therefore, gardeners who would like them in the garden would need to seed them every year. Dimorphotheca species and Livingstone daisies fall in this category. Others like Gazania and Arctotis are perennials that provide leafy foliage year-round.
Tips for home growing:
  • Seed retailers: Lifestyle Seeds, Hadeco
  • Annuals: Should be sown anew each year.
  • Perennials: Will provide foliage throughout the year, with a flush of flowers in spring.
  • Sowing: Autumn. Pre-soak seed capsules to release seeds easily.


Another favourite is the vibrant flowers of Sparaxis species or also aptly named buttercups/Harlequin flowers. They range in colour from bright orange to fuchsia, with the delicate blooms fading quickly in the blistering heat. Such blooms are therefore not suited as cut flowers but wondrous to observe in their natural habitat. Sparaxis are winter growers and go dormant (dying right back down to the ground) come summer.
Head to the hills as you will be graced with beautiful examples from Wuppertal to Nieuwoudtville.
Tips for home growing:
A close up of a flower


I sneaked this one in because although Froetangs or Sandcrocus are commonly photographed, many do not realise that they might have a species hiding in their lawn at home (most notably the rosy sand crocus). The brightly coloured blooms are hard to miss even though the flower is a mere 2-3 cm across. The needle-like leaves resemble grass, hence the camouflage among the landscape.
For a look at species closer to the city see:
When out and about in Namaqualand, keep an eye out for the following species:


Europe may tote the slender stemmed hybrid gladioli, but Namaqualand boasts some beauties that will take your breath away. From the purple to the king and painted kalkoentjie, they catch the eye like no other. These tiny bulbs may only sport a few blooms each year (laying dormant for a good portion), so snapping a photo of one is something spectacular.
Gladioli on Candide:
*They appear throughout the country, so no need to travel far if you cannot make it to Namaqualand.
If you are a Gladiolus lover, I would highly recommend the new Saunders' Field Guide to Gladioli of South Africa. The Online Launch of the book is taking place on the 26th August at 18:00 (GMT+2:00) and you can register here. It is a great tribute to the late Rod and Rachel Saunders.
Some noted species include:
(during Spring)

Get involved!

If you love the gorgeous blooms that Namaqualand has to offer, why not join the Indigenous Bulb Association of South Africa (IBSA). The bulb society charges a minimal fee (international members welcome) and hosts annual/monthly meetings. There are also, seed and bulb swaps/sales at the meetings with loads of help from educated growers that have grown bulbs from ethically sourced seeds (i.e. registered retailers).
For more information see the association Facebook Page.

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