Ansellia africana on a garden tree

    Ansellia africana on a garden tree
    Author: Ivan Latti
    Photographer: Thabo Maphisa

    Ansellia africana grows well and flowers profusely here in a Phalaborwa garden. The plants grow large in conducive conditions, taking up space only in the fork of a tree.

    The species was named after John Ansell, assistant botanist on the Niger Expedition of 1841. Three British ships were sent to Lokoja at the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers in what is now Nigeria, to sign antislavery treaties and promote missionary work and trade.

    High mortality occurred among the crew of the harassed expedition, as was common on such undertakings into Africa in olden times. What was also common, one or more naturalists were included on the staff to check for new and strange species of plants and animals.

    Ansell, assistant to the naturalist, Theodor Vogel who died on the trip, discovered the Ansellia on Fernando Po. This island is today known as Bioko, part of Equatorial Guinea (Pooley, 1998; Onderstall, 1984; iNaturalist; Wikipedia; http://pza.sanbi.org).

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