Get Wild About Timbavati’s Wildflowers

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is home to hundreds of different plant species which during the summer times, come out in full bloom, showing their true beauty in a variety of colours.

Our Ecologist, Almero Bosch, wants you to ignite a love for wildflowers just like his. Through the course of this year, he will share his knowledge of the wild flowers of the Timbavati with you.

Wild Facts:

  • The genus Tricliceras has 11 species in Africa of which 7 occur in South Africa.
  • The brightness of the flower is thought to attract insects.
  • Some say the flowers common name comes from a story of one looking into the bright eyes of a lion.

Taxonomy - 

Scientific name:  Tricliceras laceratum

Common name:  Lion’s eyes

Family:  Turneraceae

Distribution and Conservation Status -

Distribution:  This species is not endemic to South Africa.  It is found in both the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces.

Conservation status:  Least Concern.

Leaf structure of the Lions Eye
Full stem with leaf structure of the Lions Eye

Habitat and location on the Timbavati

This plant is usually one of the first wildflowers to be seen in the new growing season.  Habitat characteristics include sandy soils and in general low surrounding vegetation cover.  Higher-lying terrain units such as a Plato/Crest is a good area to look for this wildflower as soils here are usually sandy and well-drained.

It is also very common for this wildflower to grow on the side of roads or even on the “middelmannetjie” of the road.  This habit of growing in the road is most probably the reason why its so well documented over the entire Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.

How to identify them

The flower is a bright vibrant orange-red with the corolla consisting of 5 lobes.  This flower has about the diameter of a R5 coin.  Only one flower on the raceme (inflorescent type) is produced (flower or is open) at a time and in most cases will face to one side.

The leaves are the main part of the plant used to identify it correctly.  The leaves are alternate and sessile (don't have stalks).  The white midrib as seen from above is a good indicator together with the irregularly lateral (sideway) lobes that form on the leave.  These lateral lobes almost give the already serrated leave edge a more robust jagged edge look.  In most cases, the leave margins are folded upwards giving the leave a channel-like appearance.

References and acknowledgments

Duncan McKenzie for his inputs on identification aspects.

Foden, W. & Potter, L. 2005.  Tricliceras laceratum (Oberm.) Oberm. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2021/01/27

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009.  Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.