Sunday, 18 May 2014

Babiana sambucina

"Babiana sambucina", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014

Babiana sambucina, also known as Ker Gawl or Baboon Flowers, grows on sandstone slopes and flats over a broad area (northwest, southwest, southern, eastern Cape and the Karoo, South Africa).

Fragrance alone would be reason enough to grow this rare bulb from South Africa. Most writers say that it has the best and the strongest perfume of all of the Babianas. Growing to just 8” and forming clumps over time, the flowers are held low to the ground. The pretty mauve to violet blooms, with white and sometimes red markings, can appear either early or late in springtime. Leaves are pleated and narrow.

The name, Ker Gawl, sometimes used for this plant is due to John Bellenden Ker, originally John Gawler, an English botanist born about 1764, dying in June 1842.  He is noted for having written Iridearum Genera (1827) as well as other books. The abbreviation, Ker Gawl, refers to his assignment of the botanical name for this plant.  He originally identified this plant as Gladiolus sambucinus. Later, it was realized that this plant, and its relatives, were not Gladiolus but were members of their own genus, Babiana. 

Babiana is a genus in the Family Iridaceae (taking its name from the Irises), a family of 80 genera with over 1500 species of plants in the Order Asparagales.

The other common name for this plant, Baboon Flower, comes from the name given to the genus, Babiana, which is the Dutch word for "baboon".  This word was brought to South Africa by the Dutch settlers, now known as Afrikaners.  The association of the Babiana genus with baboons is due to the great liking these primates have for Babiana corms (similar to bulbs).

I was first attracted to the possibility of drawing these flowers by, what else, the colour!  I also found the markings very appealing. So, I can share the colour and markings with you through my drawing; unfortunately, there is no way that I can include their delightful fragrance! 



Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)

Interestingly, there are a couple of subspecies of Babiana sambucina (longibracteata and sambucina).  These are on the decline at this time due to ongoing habitat loss.  This loss is occurring as more and more land is put under cultivation for 

the growing of the Rooibos plant (a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa's western Cape Province). The leaves of this plant are used to make a tea commonly known in southern Africa as "red bush tea".  I became aware of this tea when I read the first volume of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series written by Alexander McCall Smith.  The book, in which the lead character drinks numerous cups of bush tea made the tea sound so delicious that I immediately went out searching for some.  At that time, I had a bit of a problem finding it on store shelves, but over the years, as the popularity of this book/movie series has grown, I can now find "red bush tea" in the tea section of any supermarket! 

This tea is reported to have various healing properties.  It has a high level of antioxidants, a lack of caffeine and low tannin levels. Rooibos is purported to assist with nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. Two flavonoids found in rooibos, quercetin and luteolin, have been known to have cancer fighting qualities. Traditional medicinal uses of rooibos in southern Africa include alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems.  



I came across a new art app while searching for something else on my iPad.  It is simply called "Pencil Sketch". It enables me to take an ordinary photo and change it into anything from a pencil sketch to a watercolour painting.  The same thing can be done, of course, using such software as Photoshop or similar types of software. The nice thing about "Pencil Sketch", however, is its simple format combined with quite a large number of options.  Following are a few examples of my first attempts at using the software...

Photo of Peace Lily taken by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer (2014) and modified
using "Pencil Sketch" art enhancement software!

Photograph of an abandoned church modified to look like a watercolour
using "Pencil Sketch" app

Photograph of a woman in a cape standing in snow
Photo modified by using "Pencil Sketch" app



"Suki in her Favourite Chair" -- photo by
Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2014, modified using
"Pencil Sketch" art enhancement software.
There is really not much to say about either Suki or myself -- we are both pretty much the same as we have been!

Suki has been reasonably well behaved this past week in spite of the continuing effort on my part to help her lose some weight.

I, on the other hand, have a new problem to deal with -- a problem which will require dental surgery!

Evidently, some of the roots connected to one of my back molars remained in the gum when the tooth was pulled back in 2009. These roots are now pushing their way up through the gum and, thereby, causing me pain and discomfort!

I will be seeing the dental surgeon this coming Wednesday and should have a plan for treatment in place by my next posting.



May the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our hearts be acceptable in God's sight today and always.  Amen.

Peace be with you.

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