Spot the difference: this is the first year that I’ve found the Harveya in a purple-blue colour way in Smithfield. The text books show a colour rather like a mix of these two, both of which were photographed in Smithfield this morning 21 October 2013. Johann Visser’s South Africa Parasitic Flowering Plants shows the Harveya blooms on a stem that sticks out of the ground, whereas in both these shown above, the flowers emerge from the ground, not on a stem.

And why are they a journalist’s patron flower? – because of their common name, the ‘Ink Plant’ or ‘Ink flower’. If you bump them they immediately begin to lose their pink or purple colour and turn black as ink.