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yellow protea

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Mimetes Chrysanthus

Mimetes Chrysanthus

The discovery of a previously unknown yellow Protea – the Mimetes Chrysanthus – in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve caused a stir in 1987.

While on patrol in the Reserve in September of that year, game guard Willie Julies spotted a spectacular yellow flower he had not seen before.

He reported his find to the Reserve Manager, Mr Rory Allardice and specimens were sent to the Mr Jan Vlok, fynbos expert at Saarsveld Herbarium in George.  Recognising the plant as a new species Mr Vlok sent the specimens on to Dr John Rourke of the Compton Herbarium. at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Cape Town. The overarching research programme at the Compton Herbarium is to document the plant diversity of the Greater Cape Floristic Region

In April 1988 Dr Rourke and John Winter, curator of Kirstenbosch, visited Gamkaberg Reserve to collect specimens for propagation for the gardens and the herbarium. This was an exciting find for the floral world.

The Mimetes Chrysanthus is a shrub with long single, sparsely branched, erect trunks at the top of which the flowers bloom.  The flowers themselves are quite different from other mimetes in that their flowers cluster in greater numbers in each flower group or capitulum – typically between 25 and 35 flowers, while the closest mimetes rival Mimetes saxatilis, has 14 – 22 flowers in each capitulum.  Other Mimetes only have 4 to 14 flowers per group.

Willie Julies

Willie Julies

Because of the luminous golden-yellow colour of the blooms, the plant was named  chrysanthus meaning golden flower (Greek chrysos meaning gold and anthos a flower).

Originally believed to grow in only a few scattered places in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, one other small population has been found 50 km to the east, on the inland side of the Outeniqua mountains.

The plants grow in full sun, on well drained, rocky, mountain slopes at altitudes of 800 – 1040m and annual rainfall of approximately 450mm.