Spiral aloe Aloe polyphylla

The most remarkable of several aloe species found in Lesotho, this stemless evergreen succulent is easily recognised by its neat base of fleshy leaves arranged in a near-symmetrical clockwise or anti-clockwise spiral. Also known by the Sesotho name kharetsa, it is endemic to the highlands of Lesotho, where it favours east-facing slopes at altitudes of 2,000-2,500 metres. The flamboyant reddish inflorescence, which appears over winter, is the national flower of Lesotho. 

Berg bamboo Thamnocalamus tessellatus

This is the only species of this typical Afromontane plant family indigenous to southern Africa. It grows in dense 5-metre tall clumps that favour moist rocky habitats and only flower at 45-year intervals. The Sesotho name for this unmistakeable plant is Ts’ehlanyane and the eponymous <national park> in Lesotho is its most important global stronghold.

Sehlabathebe waterlily Aponogeton ranunculiflorus

This white-and-yellow buttercup-like endemic grows in the muddy base of shallow sandstone rock pools. Listed as endangered, it blooms over November to January and is most commonly seen in <Sehlabathebe National Park>.

Malachite Sunbird on red hot pokerRed-hot pokers Kniphofia spp

The prominent red, yellow and orange flowers of the red-hot poker come into bloom in autumn, when they form a magnet for the nectarivorous malachite sunbird and Gurney’s sugarbird.

Lesotho lily Gladiolus saundersii

This hardy snow-resistant geophyte is a spring bloomer with tall stems and gorgeous reddish flowers.

Pineapple flower Eucomis autumnalis

This bizarre geophyte grows up to about 40cm high and is named for the pineapple-like shape of its spiked yellow-green flowers. It blooms from late summer into autumn.

Snake aloe Aloe broomii

Associated with rocky slopes below 2,000m, this otherwise typical aloe is named for the unique sinuous footlong inflorescences which hide its flowers.

Waterlily sugarbush Protea subvestita

This snow-resistant evergreen highland shrub has hairy leaves and large salmon-pink flowers typical of the Proteas. It blooms most prolifically in late summer.