Table Mountain’s scented little Snapdragon

There’s a small shrub with dainty white flowers (June to November) growing along some Table Mountain trails that most folk don’t even notice, let alone smell, yet it exudes a fragrance that will stay with you for a long time.

Its name: Zaluzianskya capensis, of the Snapdragon family, commonly known as Drumsticks. Its flowers close up in daylight, only opening at nightfall and then releasing a sweet, creamy smell to attract nocturnal moths for pollination. The closed flowers resemble buds or kettledrum sticks, hence the shrub’s name.

Descending Platteklip Gorge the other day at dusk, I passed a few half-open Drumsticks. Lower down, in fading light, I came upon open ones, but none of them fragrant – yet. Nearing the end of the trail in the half-dark, I found another bunch and this time they did not disappoint, the flowers delicately scented.

The joys of hiking Table Mountain resides not only in the views or the imposing geology, but also in the small and seemingly insignificant things. If you take the time to smell the flowers and watch the birds, listen to the frogs and study the rocks, you’ll experience facets of the mountain few people know about. And that makes for a truly memorable Table Mountain hike.