klapperbos

Collection by Anna Dalhouzie

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Anna Dalhouzie
Nymania capensis

Nymania capensis

The klapperbos (Afrikaans) is common in areas of the Karoo and Little Karoo. If the inflated seedpod is blown by the wind to a suitable resting place, particularly under a small shrub that hosts it until favourable germination conditions occur, another of these pretty xerophytic plants will grow. (Also see the Plant Record.)

Nymania capensis flower and bud

Nymania capensis flower and bud

Flowering and fruiting of Nymania capensis are festive events in the small tree’s life among often parched surroundings. The fruiting is generally more spectacular than the flowering, although a nodding flower like this is not to be sneezed at… unless the pollen brings hay fever. The pale yellow anthers of the (eight) stamens joined only at the base are oblong, flattened and ridged, held up by long, white, fleshy filaments. The tall style, topped by the slightly bulging stigma, can be…

Nymania capensis with long leaves

Nymania capensis with long leaves

The long leaves of this Nymania capensis shrub ascending and positioned close to the stems, are quite different to the Gariep specimen also shown in this Album. The erect growth habit commonly associated with the species is in evidence here, with smaller angles between branchlets and the stems they sprout from. The colouring of the young fruit shown here is also paler, a different hue of pink (Coates Palgrave, 2002).

Nymania capensis presenting some green fruit

Nymania capensis presenting some green fruit

Apart from some flowers and a brightly coloured, puffy seed capsule, this Nymania capensis plant also presents the small green beginnings of new fruit. The yet undeveloped capsules are already four-segmented, resembling the large, mature one in shape. They are not yet inflated, showing just a hint of reddish colouring and are still covered in short white hairs. The stalks from which the fruits hang are thicker below near the fruit than higher up. Note the cream colour of the anthers that…

Nymania capensis flowers and fruits

Nymania capensis flowers and fruits

Nymania capensis, a shrub of the Little Karoo, the Richtersveld and Namibia, may sometimes grow to a small tree (SA Tree List No. 295). The leaves are simple, spirally arranged on dwarf spur-branchlets and linear-lanceolate in shape. The flowers, pink to scarlet, are sometimes less noticed than the colourful inflated fruit capsules. They both appear side by side in this picture. The flowers have overlapping petals forming cylindrical corolla tubes with slight bell-shaped bulges. Flowering…

Nymania capensis fruits that have lost their colour

Nymania capensis fruits that have lost their colour

These creamy white fruit capsules of Nymania capensis were seen near De Rust in January. The tree has usually finished fruiting by early summer, so the rose-red colouring of the balloon-like capsules is by now bleached out of them. Lower growing and more broadly shaped shrubs sometimes occur, although the typical shape of N. capensis is narrowly erect, comprising multiple pale to dark grey stems that reveal bare patches among the leaves. Occasionally reaching 6 m in height, the tree…

Nymania capensis covered in fruit

Nymania capensis covered in fruit

There are no half-measures in the fruit production of Nymania capensis when conditions are favourable. This colourful profusion was photographed near Oudtshoorn in October after a notably wet winter. And there is nothing wrong with the appearance of the flowers of the Chinese lantern, as the tree is commonly known, a name shared with the exotic fuchsias. Still, the fruits dominate the flowers in looks, having won the competition for giving the plant its common name. The seeds hiding inside…

Bauhinia galpinii fruit pods

Nymania capensis at the Gariep with white branchlets

This plant was photographed in June in the Aughrabies National Park on the Gariep River (previously known as the Orange). Nymania capensis has a large north-westerly distribution area reaching well into Namibia, separate from its Little Karoo distribution and larger than it. The plants growing here already present some differences compared to those of the Little Karoo. The fascicled leaves are smaller, especially shorter, while the young fruit capsules are more brightly coloured. The flowers…