Although a few species are found in forests, most Gerberas occur in grasslands. Either way, they will immediately attract your attention with their colourful flowerheads.
Gerbera galpinii, is an upright perennial herb with some plants growing singly, while others form clumps from short elongated underground stems, from which arise a number of leaves. The short rootstock is thick and silky-woolly with thick roots.
The leaves are erect, up to 250 mm long and 15 mm wide, with some of the petiole-like parts purplish. Leaf blades are leathery, hairless and have smooth, sometimes toothed margins.
The leafless flower-stalk is up to 350 mm tall, the lower part with a few scattered hairs and single head, tinged purplish. The ray flowers (florets on the margin of the flowerhead) are powder-pink, sometimes yellow, and usually female; the disc florets (central florets of the flowerhead) are magenta, and mostly hermaphroditic.
The fruit is a brown, dry, one-seeded capsule, with a ring of fine pinkish brown hairs on one end. Flowering takes place between September and December.
Gerbera galpinii is Red Listed as Least Concern. It has only been collected on four occasions in South Africa, the most recent collections being that of 2003 and 2012. The only possible threat to its continued survival would be habitat loss, since the populations are thriving in grasslands used for grazing.
Distribution and habitat
Gerbera galpinii is found in Mpumalanga, Swaziland and only one known area in KwaZulu-Natal. It prefers wet places and also does well in water. It seems to be frost-tolerant judging from where it is found.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus was named after Traugott Gerber, a Polish medical doctor who died in 1743. Gerber's claim to fame was that he started the first botanic garden in Moscow. This species was named for Ernest Edward Galpin who was a banker with no formal botanical training. He collected plants extensively around Barberton in 1889.
Typical of various members of the Asteraceae family, the fruit of Gerbera galpinii has a ring of fine pinkish brown hairs on one end that aids in seed dispersal through wind.
Uses and cultural aspects
This species grows in marshy areas and, can be introduced into the horticulture industry. There are no other known uses for this plant.
Growing Gerbera galpinii
Propagate Gerbera galpinii from seed that is less than six months old or by division of clumps at the end of winter. It grows very well in sunny, marshy situations.
References and further reading
- Hilliard, O.M. 1977. Compositae in Natal . University of Natal Pres s, Pietermaritzburg.
- Joffe, P. 1993. The Gardeners Guide to South African Plants . Tafelberg, Cape Town.
- Johnson, I. 2010. The genus Gerbera in summer-rainfall South Africa. PlantLife 39 & 40: xx–xx .