Paintbrush lily or Snake lily

Scadoxus puniceus
Conservation status: Least Concern (LC)
Fireworks in the forest.

A marvellous splodge of red-orange inflorescence blooms atop these bulbs in early spring and summer. Sunbirds and weavers enjoy the nectar, and the red berries are eaten by monkeys and birds. It’s being crowded out at Ferncliffe by alien ginger species.

The bulb is poisonous, but the plant is used to make traditional remedies for gastro-intestinal issues and coughs. It’s ranked as one of the most-traded medicinal plant species in South Africa –  in demand from the massive industry  that’s relied on by 72% of black South Africans and consumes over 70,000 tonnes of plants a year.  Wild specimens are likely to feel the pressure in time.