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I'm Principal Scientist for Botany at the RHS and work on the correct naming of plants and manage the RHS Herbarium. I am part of an expedition to South Africa this January to study Kniphofia and their natural hybrids.

Graceful and tall

Posted by Chris Whitehouse on 03 Feb 2012 at 09:47 AM

Yesterday was an exhilarating day except for the lack of pokers: a good long walk, many beautiful flowers and the tension of trying to out run a thunderstorm.  It had felt worthwhile because I had come across one poker right at the furthest extreme of the walk.  However, that feeling was rapidly taken away today, for within a few kilometres of leaving the rustic charm of Pear Tree Cottage, I came across exactly the same species, K. laxiflora, growing by the roadside. 

It is a very variable species, and as I drove on I came across at least two more colour forms.  They were once again the only poker I saw all day, only this time it had not taken quite so much effort.  K. laxiflora has a very graceful habit and it is surprising that this has not been bred into more cultivated pokers.  The tall slender spikes with space between the flowers would be a very useful addition to the range of variation in the cultivars.

  I did try to find another poker.  I had been given very accurate instructions on where to find K. littoralis at the seaside town of Park Rynie.  I found the spot just as described but either the plants had gone or the vegetation was so overgrown that I could not find them.  Unfortunately, it was not the time of the year for them to be flowering, which would have made spotting them a whole lot easier. 

At least now I have arrived at Durban and will be assisted in my poker hunting over the next two days by two experts on all matters pokerish: Dr Syd Ramdhani and Prof. Himansu Baijnath.  Even if the plants are not flowering, we should be able to find the plants with their knowledge.


Botany said:

This page is to act as a summary of my expedition to find Kniphofia , red hot pokers, with links through

on 24 Feb 2012 at 03:29 PM