The gousblom (Gazania krebsiana) is one of the best known spring flowering plants. It is an extremely showy plant when in flower, creating colourful beds of brilliant orange or red. It starts to flower in late August and continues until January, peaking from October to November.
Gousblomme means ‘golden flowers’ in English – although the gazania in the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden are bright orange or red. There are several beds displaying these gazanias.
The flowers of the gousblom only open later in the day, when the flowers reach a temperature of around 20°C. It is the temperature of the flower and not the sunlight that gives the cue to the plant to open its flowers. When the gousblom flower opens, bees, bee flies, beetles, butterflies and ants come for the nectar and pollinate the plant.
Insect pollinators are only active from mid-morning to early afternoon, as they are cold blooded. Some beetles overnight in the flower. As soon as the flower opens the beetle will take off to the next flower, in search of pollen.
The dark marking at the base of the petals has a striking resemblance to monkey beetles. This might serve to attract passing males in search of females.
Gousblomme are very easily cultivated from seed. In the southern hemisphere, sow the seeds in March in a light, loamy soil about 5 mm deep. Keep moist and they will grow rapidly – transplant in May. They will flower in September of the same year!