A splash of orange accents the 40 shades of green in this roadside meadow in the Irish countryside of County Clare near Lissycasey.
The brightly color wildflower, Montbretia, brightens meadows from June to October each year in stark contrast to the Emerald Isle’s persistent year-round greenery.
You might be surprised to know the flower is not native to Ireland — it’s a hybrid of two species believed to have originated in South Africa.
How did flowers from South Africa end up in Ireland, 6,800 miles and a continent away? That’s more the result of a cultural phenomenon of the times of Lords, Ladies and large estates than any natural occurance.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, before the revolutions that gave rise to the downfall of the British aristocracy, wealthy landowners traveled the world in search of new and unique ornaments to enhance their gardens and social standing.
Montbretia was named after a young botanist, Coquebert de Montbret, who died in 1801 at the age of 20 during Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt.
It’s also known by the Greek name, Crocosmia, which means “smell of saffron.”
Regardless of the name or birthplace of these beauties, they’ve become synonymous with Irish summer, adding a bright stroke to the summer countryside.