Plants of the Cradle of Humankind: Crocosmia aurea
In 2011 Maropeng took home a silver certificate in the Landscape and Turf Maintenance and Water-Wise categories at the South African Landscapers Institute Awards for the maintenance of its grasslands and wetlands. In this series we highlight a few of the incredible plant species found in the Cradle of Humankind.
In summer the field adjacent to Maropeng’s car park is ablaze with the indigenous Crocosmia aurea, known by some as Montbretia, by others as Falling Stars.
Sometimes reaching more than a metre in height, the arching spikes of flowers bend in different directions and make such an impact when the plants are massed together, and in full cry.
In winter they become dormant but, as they die down in autumn, their seed is adored by birds. A member of the lily family, Crocosmia has corms that spread underground, and these are apparently quite a delicacy for bush pigs.
Interestingly, the plant’s name derives from the Greek words krokos (saffron) and osme (smell), referring to the saffron-like scent given off by dried flowers when placed in warm water. In fact, Crocosmia flowers are cultivated for yellow food colouring as a cheaper substitute for saffron.