Flower Tales: Commelina

By Kings Camp Team on June 21, 2023

The wilting beauty of the Commelina

Note: This marks the fifth post of our monthly flower-themed inserts by Karolina Lasse, one of the guides at Kings Camp.

Flowers are often overlooked on safari. When you’re out in the vehicle, odds are you’re gazing up at the trees, hoping to spot a leopard – not studying the shady spots on the ground where these little plants grow.

The commelina is particularly fond of hide and seek –  not only does it favour dim light, but its petals wilt entirely as soon as they’re exposed to the unforgiving African sunshine.

For this reason, the commelina is also known as the “dayflower”. It thrives in the moisture of dawn and dusk and grows best when it’s in a shady and damp spot – away from the daylight.

With that said, the African bush is not exactly famous for being “shady and damp”. Quite the opposite! In response, this little flower has come up with an ingenious solution: It keeps the next generation of commelina protected in a little pouch, also called a sepal, which houses the plant’s bud.

In the early morning, the petals channel the moisture of the surrounding air into the sepal and all the water gathers around the developing bud. When the flower’s petals have performed their function and the heat of the day reaches its peak, they wilt completely, only leaving the plant’s stem, leaves, and water-filled pouch containing the bud. Why maintain showy flowers, when it costs energy and water? Survival is the name of the game here.

Did you know, the water in the commelina’s sepal can be used as eye drops? The sepal is the perfect shape to facilitate squeezing a couple of water drops directly into your eye. This has given rise to another common name for the commelina: The eye-drop plant.

“Call it what you want, but this little flower is worth looking for!”

– Karolina Lasse

About Kings Camp

Kings Camp in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, South Africa, is an exclusive safari lodge offering guests a unique African safari experience.

Located in the heart of Big 5 game country, our lodge spreads out beneath a canopy of indigenous trees and offers guests a peaceful and serene atmosphere in which to reconnect with nature.

Guests can enjoy all-inclusive luxury accommodation as well as thrilling game drives in open vehicles which offer special access to encounter some of Africa’s most beloved wildlife. Additionally, there are various activities available throughout the day, such as guided bush walks and bird-watching tours to discover even more wonders that this captivating landscape has to offer.

All of this creates an unforgettable adventure for any guest looking to connect with Mother Nature in one of her most extraordinary settings.

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