Here is entry number six in Taisha’s South African plants and biomes series. She writes:
Bauhinia galpinii, known as Pride of the Cape or Pride of De Kaap, is featured today as part of the savanna biome. Even though the name may suggest it is from the Cape (de kaap= cape), it is actually named after the De Kaap valley in the northeastern region of South Africa. This 2007 photo was taken by frequent BPotD contributor, Bart Wursten (aka zimbart@Flickr), in Manica, Mozambique. In addition to South Africa and Mozambique, the species is also present in Zimbabwe. Thanks for sharing, Bart!
The savanna biome spans a large area over the lowveld and Kalahari regions of South Africa. Elevation ranges between sea-level and 2000 m. Summers are very hot and rainy in this region, with temperatures anywhere between 12 and 39°C. This is followed by a cooler dry season where temperatures range from 0-32°C. Annual rainfall varies from 235mm-1000mm in the biome, and some parts of it may be frost-free while others can have up to 120 days of frost/year. Many of the major soil types (PDF) are represented in the region, though soils are usually porous, quick-draining, and with a thin layer of humus.
The savanna has a distinguishable grass-dominated ground layer accompanied by the different densities of woody shrubs and trees (shrubs may be the most prolific plants in overgrazed areas). C4 grasses form much of the grass layer where there is a hot growing season (C4 photosynthesis is best-suited for heat), while C3 grasses tend to be in the majority in cooler, wetter parts of the biome. Many plant species are adapted to survive fires, and most will resprout from stem bases even after severe burning.
Bauhinia galpinii is a fabaceous shrub with two-lobed leaves and bright red-orange flowers. This species is traditionally used medicinally by the Venda (or vhaVenda) people of the Limpopo province. In Mahwasane et al.’s survey of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by the traditional healers of Limpopo’s Lwamondo area, the roots of Bauhinia galpinii are boiled and the mixture drunk to treat stomach worms or to improve sexual performance. They also add that the concoction can be used to make a soft porridge for stomach pains. The researchers further mention that other studies have claimed that this species is used for treating diarrhea and infertility (bark and leaves), for infertility using the roots, or for amenorrhea (seeds). Traditional healers (herbalists) of the vhaVenda use up to 16 species of herbs, trees, or shrubs within seven families for medicinal purposes. Those from the Fabaceae are used most frequently; other families represented were Annonaceae, Asteraceae, Ebenaceae, Orobanchaceae, Oxalidaceae, and Verbenaceae. Different plant parts are collected from the medicinal species, most often the roots (also the leaves, bark, flowers, or whole plant), and diversely prepared for treating the above illnesses as well as others, including stomach ailments, dysmenorrhoea and oedema (see: Mahwasane, S., L. Middleton, and N. Baoduo. (2013). An ethnobotanical survey of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by the traditional healers of the Lwamondo area, Limpopo province, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany. 88:69-75).