25 October, 2009


We have the same farmer to thank, who gave us Melianthus (honey flowers) and Zantedeschia (arum lilies) along his stream. Who has built open sided sheds to give his dairy cows shade from the brutal summer heat, and they really appreciate it. We see them tidily arranged in the rectangle of shade, with one or two having a nibble, or a drink of water, or stretching their legs. This plant will kill cattle, so now I understand why those cows are firmly fenced away from this flower display.

Long, long ago, when I was a girl and Interflora was much simpler, my mother sometimes sent granma chincherinchees. They were airmailed as buds (think Iris or Gladioli) to open slowly and give pleasure over weeks. Like the arums nature spreads them with such glorious abandon, that I once thought the sheep in their fields were clumps of chinks!

According to PlantZafrica Ornithogalum thyrsoides will follow the sun, as sunflowers do. This bulb is one of our local wild flowers curving thru us from Namaqualand in our North West to Caledon in our South East. 114 of 120 species in this genus are South African. Yet another branch of the Hyacinth clan. 'Ornithogalum is derived from the Greek words 'ornis' meaning bird and 'gala' meaning milk, in reference to the white flowers. 'Bird's Milk' was frequently used by the Romans to indicate something wonderful (Smith, 1966). The Afrikaans vernacular name tjienkerientjee is the simulation of the chink sound made when fresh stalks are rubbed against one another and is based on the name given by Thunberg in 1772 as tinkerintees. Chincherinchee is the English translation of the Afrikaans name. Both names were in use in the eighteenth century. The species was introduced to gardens in Holland before 1700 and is known to cultivation in Europe from about 1750’.
These white ones are those that I know and love, but there are also shriek orange species, NOT so appealing.

The ridge of mountain is the Olifantsberg, which we see from our house in town, and just visible over the top are the Groot and Klein Winterhoek peaks.


  1. so beautiful yet so deadly.... Didn't know such a beautiful flower could kill cattle.

  2. What a name! I love it. The blooms are snow white, so pretty! And the field of white flowers is something unbelievable!

  3. James this would go well with your white foliage plants.
    Tatyana we just grew up calling them chinks.

  4. I love white blooms! A field of them is beautiful.

  5. It's a beautiful plant Diana...The farmers must have to be very careful. We have a member of its family growing here...Ornithogalum umbellatum...Star of Bethlehem is the common name. It's an escapee from gardens and has spread all over the southeastern states.

  6. We live close to Kabeljoubank where chincherinchees grow wild. I have just done a painting and story on them for my blog and loved the extra info I found here! Thank you, Marie Theron. http://artistmarietheron.blogspot.com/


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