Sunday, 4 October 2020

Red Desert NR (Thursday 17 September 2020)

Kate and I decided to pay a guest visit to the Pondoland CREW on their outing to the Red Desert Nature Reserve and managed to persuade Lloyd Mhlongo to join us on the trip down to Port Edward. (I only found out later that Gail, the new Blogmaster, decided that I should publish a guest post of the outing on this blog - hence the lateness of the post). We met up at the entrance and were soon into the spring flowers; Afroaster hispidus, Callilepis laureola, Aspidoglossum carinatum, Aspidoglossum glabrescens and a surprising Cyrtanthus contractus - the first time we have seen this species in this reserve. Near the Cyrtanthus contractus was another surprise, a Stapelia leendertsii, this one possibly a garden escapee.

Lloyd spotted a well-camouflaged chamaeleon amongst the forbs.

Afroaster hispidus

Callilepis laureola

Acrolophia cochlearis
Aspidoglossum glabrescens

Aspidoglossum carinatum

Cyrtanthus contractus

A skulking chamaeleon 

Once we were through the yardangs of the Red Desert, we were faced with a hillside full of flowers. There were Asclepias praemorsa, Asclepias albens (in bud), Oxygonum dregeanum, Buchnera dura, Bulbine asphodeloides, Phylica natalensis, Tritonia gladiolaris, Thesium natalensis, Thesium pallidum, Eriosema dregei, Eriosema kraussianum, and Eriosema preptum. This area was liberally interspersed with the small flowers on Centella glabrata.

Asclepias praemorsa

Asclepias albens
Oxygonum dregeanum

Buchnera dura

Bulbine asphodeloides

Phylica natalensis

Tritonia gladiolaris

Thesium natalensis

Thesium pallidum

Eriosema dregei

Eriosema kraussianum

Eriosema preptum

Centella glabrata

We headed down the slope towards the wetland in the valley below, finding some splendid Chamaecrista comosa clustered around an old termite mound. There were several Convolvulus natalensis, all proudly displaying their greeny-yellow flowers. On the upper slopes were Muraltia lancifolia, Orthochilus foliosus and a white form of Orthochilus ensatus.

Once we reached the wetter areas at the bottom of the slope we saw a few Sopubia simplex, and numbers of Cycnium adonense. The white flowers of the latter slowly turn black as they age.

Chamaecrista comosa

Convolvulus natalensis

Muraltia lancifolia

Sopubia simplex

Orthochilus foliosus

Orthochilus ensatus (white form)

Cycnium adonense

In the wetland we started finding Disa similis - a favorite of mine. There were many Satyrium longicauda with their white flowers and in the stream bed there was a colony of the Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis. 

As we moved further down the slope we found some Kniphofia coddiana and then we were amongst a good display of Watsonia pillansii. Here we also found a few Xysmalobium involucratum.
Disa similis

Osmunda regalis

Satyrium longicauda

Kniphofia coddiana

Xysmalobium involucratum

Watsonia pillansii

We paused for lunch in the shade of some Umdoni trees and then Anne, Dorothy, Gail and Maggie left while the rest of us took a more circuitous route back. This helped us to find Cyrtanthus breviflorus, Dimorphotheca fruticosa, the short spur form of Eulophia parviflora and some Merwilla plumbea growing in cracks in a rock plate.

Pondoland CREW and visitors amongst the Watsonia pillansii

Cyrtanthus breviflorus

Dimorphotheca fruticosa

Merwilla plumbea

Eulophia parviflora (short spur form)

Participants: Anne S, Buyi Z, Dorothy M, Gail B-W, Graham G, Kate G, Maggie A, Mark G, Tracy T

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Blencathra - Umtumvuna

The day was kind to us this Thursday.  We had endured unforgivable winds the day before and braced ourselves to be be blown off the cliffs edge.  There was an area below Blencathra which we thought we'd like to explore to see what was growing in the grasslands and see if we could find some Disa. We sadly didn't but the only orchid spotted was Eulophia hians.  

Eulophia hians

On private land that belonged to a local farmer we were granted access and then ventured into the Umtumvuna Reserve.  Our two specials of today where the the Watsonia mtamvunae and the Eriosema umtumvunense.  

Our endangered Eriosema umtumvunese is endemic to the area and it likes to grow on sandy and loamy soils and survives fires because of it's woody root-stock.

Eriosema umtumvunense -Endangered 

Watsonia mtamvunae (Endangered and endemic to area)

The Watsonia mtumvunae is considered extremely rare in its specialized habitat.

On the freshly bulldozed strip of land that was on a macadamian nut farm we found Eriosema kraussianum as well as Hypoxis  and Euphorbia guenzii growing out of the grey earth. 

Eriospermum mackenii

Drosera madagascariensis 

Drosera natalensis  


Alf and Dorothy 

Dianthus mooiensis 

Afroaster hispidus 

Callilepis laureola 

Asparagus sp.

Afroaster serrulatus 

Argolobium species

Indigofera rubroglandulosa 

Indigofera rubroglandulosa seed

Agathosma ovata 

Acalypha glandulifolia

Thesium species

Rock inspection.

Burchellia bubalina shown in all its stages of life.

Burchellia bubalina

Burchellia bubalina - "Yellow".

The "Yellow" gem hiding secretly behind the rocks. - Burchellia bubalina.

Ceasia contorta.

Ceasia contorta.  They looked like incredibly delicate blue stars on threads.

Clutia species 

Crassula obovata var dregeana 

Cryptocarya wyliei

Dimorphotheca fruticosa

Accentuating the colour of this cheerful flower.

Dimorphotheca fruticosa 

Who's stalking the Dimorphotheca fruticosa?

Diospyros scabrida (Female)

Eriosema kraussianum

Euphorbia natalensis 

Euphorbia guenzii 

Gnidia nodiflora 

Gnidia coriacea

Hebenstretia dura

Helichrysum ecklonis

Tracey very comfortable with her cricket friend who took a great liking to her and decided to attach itself onto her back-back and go for the ride.  Gail gave a wide berth until it leap off back into the grasslands with its pink wings spread wide looking like a kite in the grass. 

The view we gazed upon having our picnic lunch seated on flat large rocks  on the edge of the cliff. On the opposite side we look upon our favorite play ground that being the Iron Crown and The Western Heights which have the most beautiful vista's and flowers.

Anne taking in all the wonders of the world which grows on rocks.  

Here we find species such  Crassula, Albuca, Rhipsalis, Eulophia, Tridacyle as well as Burchella amongst other hardy species.  How these plants thrive with no soil, in the harshest of environments and in scorching temperatures leaves one to marvel nature.

Anne on the edge of the reserve looking down at the Bulolo River below.

Bulolo River

The Alberta magna was still in flower and the Bridelia micrantha was eye-catching with its orange leaves that rustled in the breeze.  The delicate Psoralea arborea grew among the thicket of bracken.

Psoralea arborea

Rhipsalis baccifera -  being squawked at by the rock.

Ruellia glomerata

Tracey fiercely removing Clusia rosea out of the rocks.  

Tracey, our fierce nature protector removing Clusia rosea that was growing in the crevice of a rock in the reserve.  It's  an invasive in Brazil, India and South Africa and comes from from Sri Lanka.

Lasiosiphon triplinervis 

Lotononis meyeri

Ochna serrulata

Ochna serrulata

Ochna serrulata gall

Ochna serrulata

At one stage after lunch we had considered botanizing from Beacon Hill and as we began our migration up the grassy hillside with heads looking down at our feet the rocks appeared and we got lost in time as we filtered around them and explored on-top of them.  Tracey excitedly called us to come and see a Burchellia bubalina that shyly grew behind a rock and was the unusual colour of "yellow".  It was truly beautiful.  The Ochna had begun to flower and the scent of a Tryicalysia capensis wafted up perfuming the air.  Spring was here. 
There a lovely plateau and there we found Eriosema umtamvunense growing in the coastal grass land, Callilepis laureola, Dianthus mooiensis, Ruellia glomerata, Raphionacme, Agathosma ovata, Helichrysum ecklonis, Afroaster and Hebenstretia dura were all making this a field of flowers. We took it all in, appreciating everything that grew around us and meandered contently and happily home.  
Gail Bowers-Winters, Alf Hayter Tracey Taylor,  Anne Skelton and Dorothy Mcintyre.
Gail Bowers-Winters, Alf Hayter, Tracey Taylor,
 Anne Skelton and Dorothy McIntyre

“All our wisdom is stored in the trees.”
― Santosh Kalwar

Sincerest thanks to all those who made this blog possible. 
 Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.