Standing sentinel to the last days of autumn sunshine is Kniphofia linearifolia. This strong-growing member of the genus is native to southern and eastern Africa, where it has a wide distribution. Though usually growing in marsh and on the banks of streams at altitudes of 300m and above, it also colonises grassland on mountainsides.
The flower spike varies in length from 1m to 1.6m. It is topped by an inflorescence of tubular flowers which are orange in colour to yellow at the open end. The flower parts protrude and spots of nectar can be detected at the base of the corolla tube.
Kniphofia linearifolia is pollinated by nectar-feeding birds in its native home; here it is often stripped of bloom as our song bird population decimate it to access the sweet nectar. The long linear evergreen leaves are arranged in a tangled mass at the base.