February's Wild Flower of the Month is Callilepis leptophylla, commonly known as Wild Daisy or Bergbitterbossie.
Wild Daisies are found in the grassland areas and sometimes on the rocky ridges of the Magaliesberg mountain range. Look out for it when walking on your property, as it is a pretty flower. The Bergbitterbossie can be easily recognised by the thin needle-like leaves and the single stalk-like stem that bears the flower. The petals are white while the centre is deep purple in colour. The root is tuberous and if you cut it, the exposed root exudes a pleasant fragrance. It flowers during spring.
The Wild Daisy is categorised as a perennial herb and interestingly, is parasitised by another plant called Cycnium adonense, commonly known as the Ink Plant or Pocket Handkerchief. If the leaves of the Ink Plant get bruised they turn black and die off. Another contributing factor to their leaves turning black is that nocturnal moths pollinate the Ink Plant during the night, and by dawn the flowers have turned black and died off. Could this be as a result of the moths' activity on the delicate flowers?
The next time you come across the Wild Daisy be reminded of the connectivity within all things in nature.
Do not pick wild flowers or take out indigenous plants when walking in the veld - these plants have specific habitat (soil, weather) requirements and besides, it is against the law to take out indigenous plants when walking in a protected zone like the Magaliesberg mountain range. Take photographs and leave only your footprints behind.
Braam van Wyk & Sasa Malan. 1998. Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Highveld.
The information was kindly provided by Sue Oxborrow