Friday, January 20, 2012

Wildflowers of Zimbabwe–2nd series

Zimbabwe Post has issued the second series of wild flower on October 22, 2002. The issued stamps  feature Dissotis princeps,Leonotis Nepetifolia,Hibiscus Vitifolius,Boophane Disticha and Pyconostachys urticifolia.

Dissotis Princeps
Dissotis princeps occurs in marshy places, along streambanks and at the fringe of forests in KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, Limpopo, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.
Dissotis princeps is an outstanding garden plant with magnificent flowers and decorative foliage. It is easy to grow, and is ideal for the water or vlei (marsh) garden, or for that difficult, permanently damp spot.
Dissotis princeps is a soft, herbaceous shrub, 1.5 to 3 m tall. Young stems are angular and the whole plant is covered in short, bristly hairs. The leaves are large, 30-145 x 10-55 mm, egg-shaped to lance-shaped, and velvety, dark green above and paler to whitish underneath with 5 conspicuous veins from the base. Old leaves turn red.
This species is used in traditional medicine, probably in the same way as Dissotis canescens which is also eaten in times of famine, and the leaves, stems and roots are used to make a brew to prevent the development of certain unpleasant symptoms caused by drinking beer made from the new season's mealies, and the leaves are used to treat dysentery and diarrhoea.

Leonotis Nepetifolia
Leonotis nepetifolia, also known as Klip Dagga or Lion's Ear, is a species of plant in the Leonotis genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Leonotis nepetifolia is native to tropical Africa and southern India.

It can also be found growing abundantly in some parts of Mexico (at least in the states of Puebla and Guerrero). It grows to a height of 3 metres and has whorls of striking lipped flowers, that are most commonly orange, but can vary to red, white, and purple. It has very soft serrated leaves that can grow up to 4 inches wide.

Leonotis nepetifolia is known in Trinidad as shandilay and the leaves are brewed as a tea for fever, coughs, womb prolapse and malaria .
Hibiscus Vitifolius
A shrub with alternate leaves. The 2- to 5-lobed leaves resemble grape-vine foliage. Its flowers are large and pale yellow. The fruit is a depressed globular capsule beaked in the centre.
Hibiscus Vitifolius or Grape Leaved Mallow is a herb, almost a shrub, up to 2.5 m tall, usually densely velvet-hairy all over. Leaves 2.5-6 cm long, 2-5 cm broad, subcordate-rounded at base, acute at apex, serrate to crenate, not lobed or shallowly 3 to 7-lobed, broadly ovate to orbicular, densely pubescent on both surfaces; stalk 1-5 cm long. They do look like grape leaves, hence the species name vitifolia.
Flowers occur singly in leaf axils. Flower stalk is 1.5-3 cm long, in fruit up to 5 cm. Sepals fused below the middle, 1.5-2 cm long. Flowers are 4-6 cm across, pale yellow to yellow with a large, purple centre. Petals are 3-5 cm long, 2-3 cm broad, outside with simple and 2 rayed hairs towards the top, glabrescent, obovate.

Boophane Disticha
Boophone disticha is widely distributed in all provinces of South Africa and tropical Africa. The genus comprises of five or six species and is distributed throughout southern Africa to tropical Africa. Boophone disticha is the most widespread and occurs mainly in summer rainfall region.
This is an attractive, deciduous bulbous plant with a thick covering of dry scales above the ground. The large, round heads are sometimes on such short stems that they appear to grow directly from the bulb, almost at ground level. The colour of flowers varies from shades of pink to red and are sweetly scented (July to Oct.).
The pedicels (flower stalks) elongate after flowering to form a large seedhead. This breaks off at the top of the scape (stalk) and tumbles across the veld dispersing the seed.
The greyish green leaves are erect, arranged in a conspicuous fan and are usually produced after flowering. This spring-flowering species will flower even if it does not receive any water in winter. The bulb is very poisonous.
Boophone disticha has many medicinal uses, for example the Bushman once used the poison for their arrows, and traditional healers use it to treat pain and wounds. Parts of the plant are used by certain African tribes and also by some Europeans to cure various ailments. The outer covering of the bulb is applied to boils and abscesses. Fresh leaves are used to stop bleeding of wounds. The plants are known to be poisonous to cattle and sheep. The name sore-eye flower refers to the fact that if a person is exposed to the open flowers in a confined space; it may lead to sore eyes and even to a headache.

Pyconostachys urticifolia
Pycnostachys urticifolia is a herbaceous perennial, 1–2.5 m high. The leaves are densely covered with hairs; broad and almost triangular, margins of leaf with rounded teeth, becoming smaller near the top. The stem is branched especially towards the tip.

The flowers, which are arranged in spikes at the tips of the branches, range from mauve to dark blue. As the flowers drop, the spikes develop sharp reddish spines at the base, which remain on the bush for many months. It flowers very late in autumn, from about April until June. It is seen at its best in warm places, such as Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, for it is often cut back by frost just as it commences flowering in cold places such as Johannesburg.
Pycnostachys urticifolia is an evergreen, aromatic, perennial shrub, with beautiful dark blue flowers, which bloom very late in autumn. The species is a good choice for an informal garden.

Gloriosa Superba
Gloriosa superba is the national flower of Zimbabwe which has  protected  this plant. Gloriosa superba is  a scandent plant, climbing by leaf-tip tendrils and can reach 3 meters in height. The perianth segments are striking in color, yellow proximally and at margins and dark red in the median portion. Propagation generally occurs from seeds, although mature plants can be divided and grown from tubers. The hard seeds can remain dormant for 6-9 months.
Gloriosa is a genus of five or six species in the plant family Colchicaceae, from tropical Africa and Asia.   Their native range is Africa, Southeastern Asia and parts of Malaysia, but they are now widely cultivated. All parts of the plant contain colchicine and related alkaloids and are therefore dangerously toxic if ingested, especially the tubers; contact with the stems and leaves can cause skin irritation. Various preparations of the plant are used in traditional medicines for a variety of complaints in both Africa and India.
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