Online Brand Ambassador 2020-06-08
This fynbos endemic steals the show in summertime! The gold lobelia is a perennial herb with narrowly elliptical, toothed leaves borne on trailing stems, and clusters of small, bright yellow flowers that peep out amongst shrubs during summer. The flowers resemble cheery little faces, but unlike the genus name ‘Monopsis’, which derives from the Greek ‘monos’ meaning ‘solitary/one’ and ‘opsis’ meaning ‘face’, the flowers of Monopsis lutea are actually two-faced! The petals at the top form one ‘face’ and the petals below, another! This muddle came about because the nomenclatural type specimen of Monopsis debilis (the specimen for which the genus Monopsis was named) has regular, one-faced flowers. Fortunately, the specific epithet ‘lutea’ more accurately refers to the flowers’ unmistakably yellow colour. These little flowers attract a host of insect pollinators, including butterflies and megachilid bees, and the fruit capsules are the bonnes bouches of seed-eating birds.
Flowering time: November-April
In your garden: Plant in full sun in rich, well-drained, permanently moist soil; a great addition when planted around ponds, eco-pools or greywater wetlands. Cut back after seed set and don’t be surprised if the plants disappear over winter; they are seasonal and will resprout again in late spring when temperatures rise. A perfect companion for Erica verticillata: keep an eye out for them growing together in Tokai Park…
Distribution: Damp sandy flats and lower slopes, often along seeps or streams, from the Grootwinterhoek mountains of the southwestern Cape to Humansdorp in the Eastern Cape
Image © James Puttick Photography