Satyrium halackii subsp. halackii


Dimensions 28 × 45 cm
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 height  45 cm  x  width 28 cm

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Stock Reference: V03
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All Satyriums seem to embody elegance of form with a touchingly sturdy quality. This stunner used to abundantly grace the coastal regions of S. Africa. Satyrium halackii ssp halackii is thought to be mainly pollinated by carpenter bees, Xylocopa caffra, who find suitable nest sites in the surrounding coastal fynbos. The individual flowers have two short spurs which are thought to be adapted to bee and possibly fly pollinators of the eastern Cape. I spent several months painting there, sometimes admiring the riotous antics of local baboons who whooped up and down from the hills to play on the village’s tin roofs 

  I created this portrait of one the last known wild, or indeed apparently almost any, plant of S. halackii subsp halackii where it was growing surrounded by spectacular fynbos richness in a garden near the coastal hamlet of Rooi-els. Local field naturalists told me that when the new owner of the land it was growing on moved in, this orchid and all other nearby inter-related life forms’ survival would depend on whether or not the new owners are able to celebrate the privilege of living in the midst of the smallest in area yet most species-blessed of the seven Floral Kingdoms of the world, with over 9,000 species including a staggering 6,200 endemics, known collectively as Fynbos. Or would they be yet another inhabitant to destroy it all to try and make a “European” style garden ?

      About forty species of Satyrium occur in S. Africa, whilst approximately a further forty Satyrium species can be found in tropical Africa, the Mascarene Islands, northern India, southern Tibet, and south western China. Yet only S. halackii subsp. halackii  was perfectly adapted over tens of thousands of years to flourish in the damp, salty, sometimes even brackish soils of South Africa’s western and eastern Cape, where it flowers at the height of the southern hemisphere’s summer – from September to February. S.halackii ssp halackii’s individual flowers have two short spurs, rather than the longer spurs of other S.halackii sp., which are known to grow {or have grown ? } and be pollinated by hawkmoths in the hawkmoth-rich grasslands of the eastern Cape.

This gorgeous plant is endangered mainly because it and its ecosystem apparently have less value and bring less beauty and joy into the lives of many coastal holiday home owners than “cleared” land and the sterile tedium of monoculture lawns. © Frances Livingstone 2018

error: © Frances Livingstone 2018