Monday, March 07, 2011

Bird in a Cage

Last week on our walk around Kirstenbosch, I was intrigued to see the fruit of these Strelitzia [or Bird of Paradise] flowers wrapped in chicken wire. 
I was pleased to get home and find the reason here:
"At Kirstenbosch, the grey squirrel that Cecil John Rhodes brought with him from England, Sciurus carolinensis, which has naturalized itself here, will consume nearly all the crop if unchecked. It takes the entire, almost-ripe green capsule, leaving nothing but the vandalized remains of the spathe behind. We have battled for years to find the best way of protecting our developing seed, and short of erecting a cage around the plants in the garden, we have found that enclosing each fertilized flower in fine-mesh chicken wire keeps the squirrels out."


Estelle said...

That's fascinating.
I suppose the squirrels don't know that they are supposed to eat acorns as per the picture I have in my mind (-;

Jesse said...

I was wondering about those too - thanks for the explanation!

Heloise said...

Now I know - I got the protection bit, but from squirrels! Well I never