On the Wild Side

Here is the ALBUM For captions or info click on i on the top right-hand side. A good way to go - the Slideshow is found at the top of the page on the rt hand side by clicking on the 3 dots. Featured this week – Buffelskop Trail, Vensterberg, Whale Trail, Diosma Reserve Alien Clearing, Hermannia Heaven and STOP PRESS for some very interesting recent finds

On the Wild Side
We met Myles Manders at the Buffalo Bay parking lot on Friday morning. The waves on the Buffalo Bay beach were small and unthreatening. By the time we got back to the cars some 3 hours later, the surf was already edging towards 3m with the promise of 6m, as a vicious cold front moved up from Cape Town over the weekend. The beach at Walker Point was living up to its nickname “On the Wild Side”. The forecast for the western half of the country promised snow, bitterly cold conditions, gale-force winds and huge swells. There was a steady stream of surfboard-laden cars carrying experienced and adventurous surfers to J Bay and Bruce’s Beauties to take advantage of these wintery conditions. All the baths, buckets and sinks were full of water in anticipation of a power failure at Strawberry Hill. Strong winds and some rain make the perfect recipe for fallen trees over powerlines. It can take days to have them cleared.

We were at Buffalo Bay, because Myles Mander had sent us a request. It involved one of the Walker Bay properties, which is due for a lease renewal by the Knysna Municipality.
“As the Western Heads Conservancy, we are assembling information on the conservation value of this site for a representation to the Municipality, before they start considering changes to the development footprint. Dave Edge is going to look at the Butterflies and we wondered whether your team has done any botanising here in the past. Do you have a list of high value conservation plant species occurring in the area – or likely to occur?”

After some initial confusion as to the meeting place, we set off on the Buffelskop Trail. It’s absolute ages since I’ve done it and it was thoroughly enjoyable. There were signs of recent activity along the trail and it is well-maintained. Only the last bit close to Buffalo Bay Beach needs some work. The vegetation was a mixture of coastal forest with Milkwoods (Sideroxylon inerme) predominating and some Fynbos. There was lots of the highly poisonous, but beautiful Akocanthera oppositifolia (Boesmansgifboom) and it was in early flower with the occasional fruit. Clausena anisata (Perdepis) was common and with Mike’s help, I should be able to id this in the future. In the forest section, we found Dioscorea mundii (Vulnerable). When we reached the Fynbos, there was plenty of Erica glandulosa ssp fourcadei (Vulnerable) and Satyrium princeps (Vulnerable). Later on in the year, we expect to see Erica glumiflora (Vulnerable) Erica chloroloma (Vulnerable) and Gladiolus vaginatus (Vulnerable). Other Orchids seen were Eulophia speciosa and Bonatea speciosa (Green Wood Orchid). All these species are under grave threat because of ongoing coastal development.

Bill and I returned on Saturday to walk the trail again. Worth mentioning is the number of tourists using the trail. We met a whole lot of American visitors who were very much enjoying it. This area needs conserving – not only because of the Endangered plants, but also as a tourist attraction near the ever popular Buffalo Bay Beach. Thanks Myles and the Western Heads Conservancy for giving CREW the opportunity to contribute to its preservation.

Evie’s HAT Report
Evie returned to Vensterberg this previous Sunday. A South Cape MCSA meet which involved climbing from the Outeniqua Pass up through the Fynbos to Vensterberg. This hike has become popular – a good path now exists- I guess it is popular since one starts the Peak trail at a height of about 800m, and as a result it is quick peak climb - about 2.5hours (in cooler windy weather!). It is a fairly steep ascent, which involves some rock scrambling at the peak. Just below the peak are the” windows” between the rock faces, with views down to Mosselbay, which are always unique.

The thick Fynbos was looking good and not as dry as on my previous visit at the end of December. However currently there seems to be less species in flower. Mimetes cucullatus in the lower reaches – getting ready to flower- while the Mimetes pauciflorus (VU) on the high south facing ridgeline – showing off in stunning deep orange. Leucadendron conicum (NT)-also showing off in red. A good show of Erica coccinea on the peak, a new location for Erica priori (flowers over) and along the ridgeline Erica copiosa and Erica triceps were seen. Possibly an unusual new Erica on the peak – a sample is in Jenny’s very capable hands! Sadly, none of the numerous Psoraleas were in flower, while the different Restio sp. are very much in evidence. Agathosma ovata in full flower (leaves in all sorts of sizes!) was all along the hike.

Alien Clearing at Diosma Reserve
Wielding treepoppers, loppers, secateurs, herbicide applicators plus Alien Buster Resolve some alien invasive plant clearing (Acacia cyclops, Acacia saligna and Schinus terebinthifolia) was done in the Diosma Reserve. The conditions were just perfect.
Thank you to Cape Nature’s Natalie, Charlene, Prof and AnneLise; ranger Kei from Fransmanshoek Conservancy and Outramps Gail, Rusell, Ann and Sally who brought Morris. Another thank you from Mossel Bay’s Municipal Manager, plus a YAY as AnneLise says that Jan says, “The Primatocarpus sp. in the reserve is different”. Another newbie, maybe? Sandra
The Whale Trail
The family Underwood embarked on the Whale Trail from 9 to 13th August. The weather started out chilly on the first day ascending the Potberg and soon turned to driving rain and freezing wind. We sheltered near the top behind some rocks and waited the worst out - luckily the rain stayed away for the next four days after this rough start.

The fynbos on Potberg and the limestone plateau near the coast was spectacular with early season families in full flower. I was soon hours behind everyone else photographing and collecting specimens. Too much to see, so the focus was on Rutacea, Phylica and Muraltia. [Muraltias still to tackle]. It was a fantastic walk, full of rare plants and hundreds of whales including a couple of white (brindle) babies.

Specimens on the Whale Trail identified to date:
Agathosma robusta VU
Agathosma riversdalensis VU
Agathosma muirii VU
Agathosma imbricata
Agathosma collina NT
Agathosma serpyllacea
Euchaetis laevigata VU
Euchaetis diosmoides NT
Adenandra gummifera
Adenandra obtusata
Adenandra rotundifolia
Coleonema album
Diosma echinulata
Diosma hirsuta
Acmadenia heterophylla
Acmadenia densifolia NT
Phylica humilis
Phylica nigrita NT
Phylica ericoides ericoides
Phylica axillaris maritima
Trichocephalus stipularis

A Heart for Hermannias Hermannias charm the socks off most plant lovers. No wonder that Dr Davis Gwynne-Evans arrived barefoot at our shabby-not-chic Mossel Bay coffee rendez-vous. Quickly we were immersed in his amazing fat file of Hermannias. He confirmed some identifications for me and explained groups which could do with some taxonomic work, mostly splitting, such as the red flowered ones in the flammula/flammea group and even within Hermannia angularis - the one species I thought I had spot on! This genus seems distinctive and yet is deceptive. One thing is for sure in Hermannias – flower colour matters.
At Safraanrivier, two days before, Nicky and I recorded a yellowy-orange Hermannia in Fynbos and also in the inhospitable, rocky, rough jeeptrack which passes through thicket. Ta-daaa… a new species! David has already written up a description for this species. To honour its colour and locality he named it Hermannia croceus. He is still waiting for additional input from us to finalise this and then we do hope it will be published.
A very strange Hermannia posted on iNaturalist by Dave Kershaw caught my attention recently. It was recorded at Barrington, north of Sedgefield in the post Knysna fire environment. Dave Kershaw’s Barrington Hermannia - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/15021196.

During our fieldtrip lunch last week there was a chance mention to Rusell that we need the Hermannia man and as I said the name David Gwynne-Evans, it was just perfect plant telepathy. Rusell had heard that he was passing through the Garden Route this weekend. Off went an email with iNat links and a batch of queries to the Hermannia man. A fun weekend followed filled with the Hermannia doctor’s botanical traveloque in extended WhatsApp voice messages to me before we had even met.

It turns out that Dave Kershaw’s Barrington plant could be David’s Mystery Hermannia. He first encountered it in the glasshouse collection of horticulturist Monique McQuillan at Kirstenboch. His immediate thought was that it is an absurd looking plant which does not even look like a Hermannia. Later he recalled that he had had a similar sentiment about an absurd-looking Hermannia once before. It was time to page through his expansive file.
And there he found a match for the Mystery glasshouse plant – a description in an obscure journal from 1875, illustrated with a black and white plate. The locality was vague and Monique and her contacts had no idea where their glasshouse plant came from -until Dave Kershaw’s iNat post of the Barrington plant. Could Dave Kershaw’s Barrington Hermannia be a rediscovery of the 1875 plant? Only closer examination of the actual plant would resolve the mystery. We need to find it in flower. Certainly something for the Outramps to pursue, boots and all!
He was delighted to know we found the redlisted Hermannia muirii (Vulnerable) earlier this year. In fact so were Gail and I! David says he has been trying to find it for a decade and a half! It was all over at Klipfontein in the Stilbaai district and pretty much looked like a post-fire ephemeral. H muirii - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/9975839

David confirmed that the plant seen with yellow flowers at Cloetesberg by me in 2014 and at Perdepoort, 2016 by Dave Underwood is a new species. I am quite sure Marge posted it as well, but for the life of me cannot find her observation on iNat!
Sandra, Cloete's Berg - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/10978321
Dave Underwood, Perdepoort - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/11204482

Sally’s pretty pink Hermannia could be a species nova too. Although there are many similar looking plants across the country, it does not fit neatly into any of the known species. Sally Adam, Perdepoort - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/11233938

A couple of years ago David did beautiful high resolution scans of three Hermannia species in the Diosma Reserve. There is the Hermannia salviifolia lookalike which he sets apart as Hermannia aff. mucronulata and Hermannia aff. flammula. So before tearing off to Stilbaai we did a quick whoosh through the Diosma Reserve to revisit whatever reappeared of the two ‘affinis’ plants after last year’s fire. He noted the big variation in the Hermannia decumbens plants and we wondered about its relation to the more easterly Hermannia lochnessii.

Hermannias occur across Southern Africa, in all kinds of habitats. They are important as a food plant for animals. To say that I was delighted to know that they are still ranked high with an expert is an understatement. He is even prepared to do ID’s off WhatsApp photographs for us and we are lining up a Hermannia course (most likely October) here on the Garden Route.

I know he champions the preservation of road verge vegetation. But what really touched me and what I’ll remember of this man who did his doctorate on the very charming Hermannias is the way the knelt down in the Diosma Reserve to interact with and photograph the plants. This man’s heart beats green. Thank you David.

STOP Press from Sally
At Safraanrivier on Friday we saw many plants of a hairy Oxalis - although no flowers were found I hoped that the leaves might be distinctive enough for an ID. Kenneth came through as always and proclaimed it to be O. attaquana (rare), a range-restricted high altitude habitat specialist known from the Outeniqua and Attakwas ranges.

Our neighbours occasionally ask us to watch over their place when they're away - I used the opportunity to recce a hill which had burned in the fire of April 2017. There was not much of interest except for a stand of feathery grey-green Aspalathus. I returned to the spot in flowering season and the smallish yellow flowers confirm the plants to be Aspalathus bowieana (EN). The fire was obviously much to their liking!

Forthcoming Field Trips
LOT will be visiting the Ruitersbos area in the vicinity of Eight Bells on Thursday. On Friday, SIM will do their annual pilgrimage to Mons Ruber and the De Rust Kopje, which abounds in rares.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

All id’s subject to confirmation by Doc Annelise and Jan Vlok, Steven Molteno, Dr Tony Rebelo, Nick Helme, Prof Charlie Stirton, Dr Robert Archer, Dr Robert McKenzie, Dr Ted Oliver, Dr Christopher Whitehouse, Adriaan Grobler, Prix Burgoyne, Dr Kenneth Oberlander, Dr Pieter Winter, Dr David Gwynne-Evans and Mattmatt on iNat. Thank you all for your ongoing help and support.

Publicado por outramps-tanniedi outramps-tanniedi, 27 de agosto de 2018


Always a delight to read your posts. You guys seriously impress as. I see you got to meet the delightful Hermania man - what a character.

Publicado por richardadcock hace más de 4 años (Marca)

Thanks Richard. We're certainly enjoying what we do. My e-mail is di@strawberryhill.co.za Please email me your address and I will send you the Report with pics etc. We send it out weekly, altho next Monday we are having a break

Publicado por outramps-tanniedi hace más de 4 años (Marca)

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