As we leave our summer months behind us, winter slowly starts to rear its head. The vibrant colours of nature seem to fade as well. But in the dull browns and yellows of the bush, a beautiful flash of pink and white still exists. Kapama Private Game Reserve guests always marvel at the exquisite beauty of this masterpiece when they see it for the first time. This stunning, colourful flower is known as an Impala Lily (scientific name is Adenium multiflorum) or more appropriately the Desert rose.
It remains dormant throughout most of the year, yet blooms at the most unexpected time. In winter! Usually in July but noted to flower late September as well. They are found in areas that have sandy soil in dry woodlands and desert areas.
It has a thick, tuberous underground stem, which helps it survive long periods without any or very little water. In nature, this plant propagates using seeds adapted for wind dispersal due to the silky hairs on the seeds themselves. The Impala lily contains toxic watery milk like white latex found in the leaves and the bark. The Impala lily does not grow exceptionally tall, with sizes ranging from ½ meter up to about 3 meters. However, it tends to be small and shrubby.
There is a traditional use for this beautiful plant which I find remarkable. The impala lily is known in Southern Africa as a source of poison to stun or poison fish. The poison is prepared from the latex in the bark and fleshy parts of the trunk but is always used in combination with other forms of poison.
Once prepared this poison can be used on the tips of hunting arrows to take down smaller animals.
So, if you are planning your safari to Kapama Private Game Reserve between July and September, we have no doubt you will come across the beautiful flashes of pink and white, known as Impala lilies, while out on your game drives or even when you walk through one of our camps.
Story by: Southern Camp Ranger Richard Silinda