Sunday, 11 December 2016

Protea witzenbergiana - Swan Sugarbush

"Protea witzenbergiana - Swan Sugarbush", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Protea is both the botanical name and the English common name of a genus of South African flowering plants known commonly across the genus as sugar bushes (Afrikaans: suikerbos). 

The genus Protea was named in 1735 by Carl Linnaeus after the Greek god, Proteus, who could change his form at will, because this ancient family (Proteaceae) has such a wide variety of forms. In fact, Proteas’ ancestors were known to be growing in what is now the Cape area of South Africa 75 to 80 million years ago. 

Most Proteas (92%) occur only in what is known as the “Cape Floristic Region,” a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land located in the southwestern corner of South Africa. The extraordinary richness and diversity of species characteristic of the Cape Floristic Region is thought to be caused in part by the diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and in time develop into separate species. 

Today’s featured drawing bears the name Protea witzenbergiana and is commonly known as the Swan Sugarbush. It is a perfect example of a specific plant which developed in a “diverse landscape where populations can become isolated from each other and in time develop into separate species”

The Swan Sugarbush, also known as “Creeping Mountain Rose”, is a sprawling shrub with grayish-green, needle-like leaves (they look similar to pine needles). The stems bear cup-shaped flower heads composed of red/reddish-brown bracts. They are found only in the area of Witzenberg Municipality, a local municipality located within the Cape Winelands District Municipality in the Western Cape province of South Africa (see map at,+6835,+South+Africa/@-33.39775,14.8228421,6z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x1dcd699073578c4b:0x392808e69c847c75!8m2!3d-33.4006883!4d19.295048).

Together, with the springbok antelope, the Protea had been treated as a sometimes controversial national symbol in South Africa both during and after apartheid. For example, today the South African national cricket team is known as "The Proteas". During apartheid, the team composed of white players was known as “The Springboks” while the so-called “coloured team” was known as “The Proteas”. 

Unfortunately, in spite of the greater awareness of Protea witzenbergiana and all the other Proteas, this plant, along with many of its relatives, is now on South Africa’s “Red List” of endangered plants.  So sad...I wonder sometimes if it is even possible for us to ever learn how to co-exist peacefully with the rest of time.

Portions of the above text were taken from various Internet sources.



Suki waiting impatiently for me
to come home

I am too tired today to say much of anything about either Suki or myself!

I will take the time to tell you that I left home at 8 a.m. yesterday and then travelled by car for about 55 minutes until I reached the home of "my boys".  I got there in time for a delicious breakfast cooked up expertly by their parents.  Afterwards, the parents and I tried to just sit and visit a bit over coffee; however, the boys were determined that they should be the centre of my attention and thus, effectively, kept us adults from anything close to a normal conversation.

The boys getting ready to tear
into their Christmas gifts from me.
After a while, we made our way to the front of the house where the Christmas tree is located and the boys got to open my gifts for them -- it was sort of an early Christmas for the boys and a celebration of my birthday. The gifts I had given the children kept them busy for a few minutes while we adults also exchanged a few small gifts.

By about noon, I was exhausted and the boys had to get ready to go to a party. So, soon I was on my way back home. An hour later, I opened the door to find Suki sitting there, meowing mournfully. It was an hour past her lunch time and so she was very hungry. As well, it was time for her medication.

After Suki had eaten her fill and I had gotten myself into comfortable clothes, I plugged in the kettle on so that I could make myself something to drink. Then we both collapsed into my recliner -- me sitting with my legs stretched out covered with a throw and Suki curled up on top.  We stayed this way for several hours before either of us moved again. Suki fell asleep almost immediately and although I was trying not to sleep (sleeping during the day tends to ruin my nighttime sleep), I am pretty certain that I fell asleep, briefly, a couple of times at least.

Now, although I did manage to get a decent night's sleep last night, I find that I remain very tired and all I was to do right now is get back to my recliner, my comfy throw and Suki!

Hope you all understand and I will try my best to provide you with a new story about Suki next week.



Third Sunday of Advent


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