One of the rare delights of hiking Table Mountain in February is the sight of Red Disas (Disa uniflora) along certain streams. Also known as the Pride of Table Mountain, it ranks as the most striking of the 70-odd Disa species found on the Cape Peninsula. It loves damp, semi-shaded riverbanks in the mist belt of Table Mountain, above 500m. Its peak flowering time is mid February, when it can often seen visited by the Mountain Pride butterfly (Aeropetes tulbaghia) – its sole pollinator.
Red Disas used to be fairly common back in the day, before flower-sellers cashed in on their beauty and the construction of Table Mountain’s reservoirs destroyed some of the flower’s riverine habitats.
Red Disas are not found around the upper cable station; you have to expend some energy to see them in their natural habitat – and considering their rarity and beauty, provides reason enough for hiking Table Mountain.