Cosmos time

No, this is nothing to do with a philosophical discussion of the universe, just a reflection on how pleasing it is to do birding / atlasing at this time of year, particularly in the eastern parts of our country where the cosmos flowers come into full bloom during late summer, heading into autumn.

These attractive flowers form massed displays along the roadside, spreading into unattended fields in places, creating a beautiful pink and white carpet with an occasional purple flower popping out at random.

Unlike the amazing indigenous flowers of Namaqualand, renowned for their magnificent displays in spring, the cosmos is an introduced plant species native to South America, which came to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer war at the end of the 19th century as a “stowaway” in the bales of feed imported from Argentina to feed the thousands of horses used by the British.

Since then they have become a feature of the landscape, particularly in the open grasslands of south-western Mpumulanga province, so much so that the provincial tourist body describes the area as Cosmos Country. It also happens to be the energy belt of South Africa with numerous coal mines feeding the ravenous power stations that are never very far from view.

So expect to see stunning displays of cosmos flowers contrasting with the heavily disturbed, ugly landscape typical of the coal mining areas.


Cosmos time, Delmas south
Cosmos time, Delmas south


Cosmos time, Delmas south
Cosmos time, Delmas south


Delmas south
Some butterflies are attracted to cosmos such as this Painted Lady


Cosmos time, Delmas south
The name Cosmos was chosen due to the perfect symmetry of the petals


Cosmos time, Delmas south
Cosmos display

Such a lovely accompaniment when out birding!


4 thoughts on “Cosmos time”

  1. Beautiful pictures of lovely flowers. I have a few blooming in my Eastern Cape garden so it is wonderful to see them en masse – thank you!

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