|At a Glance|
|Seasonality||S. molweniensis are monocarpic i.e. flower, set seeds and then die|
|Height||Single leaf on ground or on rock.|
|SA Tree Number||n / a|
Streptocarpus is a large genus native to Southern Africa with over 150 species being recognised. The family Gesneriaceae also includes African Violets.
There are two main divisions within the genus. Subgenus Streptocarpus is comprised of plants with typically strap-like leaves, which grow either from an irregular rosette with several leaves emerging directly from the ground, or as a single leaf, the only leaf the plant will ever produce.
Subgenus Streptoarpella produces more conventional-looking plants, with stems and leaves, and flowers produced from the leaf axils. The species in our forest are all the single leaf type.
The genus is native to Afromontane biotopes from central, eastern and southern Africa, including Madagascar.
5 species are found within Krantzkloof. These are:
a) Streptocarpus molweniensis which consists of two subspecies. The typical subspecies molweniensis which is only found in the Kloof area has smaller flowers than the other subspecies eshowicus which as its name indicates, occurs in a small number of forests around Eshowe.
b) Streptocarpus haygarthii is the most common species found in shady forest interiors.
c) Streptocarpus grandis (very similar in appearance to S. molweniensis, in damp forests.
d) Streptocarpus polyanthus subsp. polyanthus (usually on more exposed cliff edges and rock outcrops, not in deep shade) and
e) Streptocarpus prolixus (also mainly cliff edges, on rocks, and in dry forest, but not usually in deep shade).
Flower - Fruit
The fruit is a long, thin cylindrical capsule that begins to twist after pollination.
Although the streptocarpus family is a very popular pot plant species throughout the world the species of streptocarpus found in the Kloof Gorge are not commonly available from growers.
The rarest in our area is the Streptocarpus molweniensis which was first described in 1996 by the well-known botanist Olive Hilliard, then based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
Streptocarpus molweniensis and grandis can be found in various parts of the reserve including the Ronald’s Kloof area on Longshadows Trail as well as near the Nkonka Falls
Streptocarpus haygarthii can be found on the Molweni Trail and at the Nkonka Crack.
The other two species are in areas not readily accessible to the public.
The name streptocarpus comes from the Greek meaning “twisted fruit”. The streptocarpus seedpods (fruit) are very thin and spiralled (twisted). As the seedpod dries out it gets wound tighter and eventually pops to release the seeds.
The size of the leaf of the Streptocarpus grandis can exceed 700mm in width and length.