Inspector Indigenous

Inspector Indigenous
Moraea hiemalis

Moraea hiemalis. Pic by Rogan Roth

Moraea hiemalis.
Pic by Rogan Roth

The names of plants give us many clues about them, for example – Morea heimalis. The species name ‘hiemalis’ means ‘winter’, so you can be sure this member of the Iris family is flowering in our midlands grasslands around now. As they are solitary plants and bright yellow, they are quite easy to spot, particularly in recently burnt areas. Even in unburnt grassland, the stem raises the flower above the old grass. Each flower had deep veins and dark nectar guides for the pollinators (probably by beetles). The leaves are brown on the upper surface and silvery purple underneath, usually dying back by the time it flowers. They are deciduous, producing new inflorescences from a small underground corm. Around the world there are about 1600 species in the Iridaceae family, with over half found in South Africa – the majority in the Cape. Morea hiemalis is listed as Near Threatened in the Red Data Book and of particular interest to CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wilddflowers). If you have seen this species growing naturally, please contact Suvarna Parbhoo, s.parbhoo@sanbi.org.za