Monday, 3 January 2022

Beacon Hill Mr Nic's Gully 30 December 2021

It was wonderful to be able to escape the crowds that had descended the South Coast on mass.  It was Christmas after all.  The previous day was hot and sunny and so this day we welcomed the cloudy weather that threatened to shower us with rain.  The day began with its usual tea at Beacon Hill in the Umtumvuna and then we quietly meandered down the hill heading towards Mr. Nic’s Gully as Simon has requested, he’d like to spend more time learning about trees.  Our first refreshing lesson was telling the difference between Ficus burkei and Ficus natalensis.  Ficus natalensis has a stalk whereas Ficus burei doesn’t.  A handy tip to know if in question.


Ficus burkei

Meandering down to Mr. Nic's Gully.

Alberta magna

Gerrardina foliosa - The one and only species

Cyanotis speciosa

Habenaria dives - Death orchid

Habenaria dives - Death orchid

The Eulophia horsfallii was in bud but still an un-impressionable height as it was only waist high when considering how tall it gets when looking at the flower face to face.  Two were promising to flower and a Satyrium sphaerocarpum flowered in the shade in the gully of the forest.

Eulophia horsfallii 

Eulophia horsfallii  leaves

Eulophia horsfallii bud

Satyrium sphaerocarpum

The Ophrestia oblongifolia grew prolifically and Thesim cupressoides glowed like that of a lion’s mane.  We had a chuckle once again at the name that graced the spade like flower of the Hybanthus enneaspermus.


Ophrestia oblongifolia var. velutinosa

Ophrestia oblongifolia var. velutinosa

Leaves of the Ophrestia oblongifolia var. velutinosa

Thesium cupressoides

Hybanthus enneaspermus 

Carefully we navigated ourselves down the steep slopes and into Mr. Nic’s Gully where we saw Gerrardina foliosa, Pseudoscolopia polyantha and Gymnanthemum corymbosum.  On the forest’s edge Memecylon bachmannii stopped us in our tracks with the flowers looking like blossoms and Dorothy said that she hadn’t seen it flower in twenty years!  The trees were a mass of beautiful flowers growing off the branches so delicately. 


Memecylon bachmannii - Pondo Rose-apple

Memecylon bachmannii 

Memecylon bachmannii 

Pavetta bowkeri also made us stop and we felt its beautiful long satin leaves and Gail thought it felt a lot like comfort…  A good tree to have, when necessary, like a small child having a teddy bear.  The flowers truly were fit for a bride.  Dorothy pointed out to look at the black glands that are found in the mid-vein.


Pavetta bowkeri - Hairy Coastal Brides Bush

Pseudoscolopia polyantha - Sandstone Red-stem

Loxostylis alata

Loxostylis alata

One could easily over look the tiny flowers that grew off the Bulbophyllum scaberulum and the years it took to produce such an impressive orchid.  One certainly needed a trained eye to pick up the flower and admire its beauty.


Bulbophyllum scaberulum flower

Bulbophyllum scaberulum

Rangaeris muscicola flowered on the rocks nestled in between other orchid species.

Rangaeris muscicola

Orchid sp.


Stenoglottis  macloghlinii 

Alectra sessiliflora - Verfblommetjie

Simon and Dorothy keenly studied the Eugenia umtamvunensis, Dahlgrenodendron natalense, Pterocelastrus rostratus (perhaps) and found a young Faurea macnaughtonii growing in the gully.  A tree looking like Eugenia erythrophylla left us in question.


Possibly Eugenia erythrophylla

Manilkara nicholsonii

Growing on the Anastrabe integerrima which was about to begin flower was a parasitic plant of the Loranthaceae family.  

A parasitic planthappily on the
 Ansastrabe integerrima - Pambati tree.

Anastrabe integerrima - Pambati tree.  

Tiny flowers cascaded from the Putterlickia retrospinosa, it’s spines that point backwards is always impressive and even though its spines look menacing it’s the Smilax anceps that leaves one’s legs shredded each and every time.  That’s a good boundary plant to put around one’s property.  It’s going to leave someone grumpy and we know it as “The Leg-Ripper!”


Putterlickia retrospinosa

Smilax anceps - The Leg Ripper!

Searsia acocksii - Pondo Climbing Currant

Gymnanthemum corymbosum 

Cassinopsis tinifolia - False Lemon Thorn/Green mamba

Erythroxylum pictum - Blue leaved Coca-tree

Eugenia erythrophylla - Large Leaved Myrtle

Heading home we admired the rocks and we put on our rain coats as it was quite chilly and drizzly.  Cycnium racemosum flowered away in a milkshake pink. A Tritonia disticha danced in the breeze and right at the end the delicate Tulbaghia acutiloba flowered in a soft apricot hue.


Cycnium racemosum flowers

Cycnium racemosum

Tulbaghia acutiloba

Indigofera herrstreyii

Tinnea galpinii watching us from beneath it's bonnet.

Tinnea galpinii

Tritonia disticha

Onithogalum sp.

Onithogalum sp. leaf

Climbing out of Mr. Nic's Gully with the heavens threatening to give us a fresh shower.

The threat of rain.
Trapped rock bird - release me!

A Dog-dragon rock watching over us.

Student and teacher.

It was a wonderful day, and one’s so grateful to our teachers and for their patience and their passion.  This was the last botanising day of the 2021. We look to 2022 in exploring new terrains and discovering special species with Pondoland C.R.E.W.

Pondoland C.R.E.W.
Gail, Simon, Dorothy and Maggie.

"I dream of a quiet man who explains nothing and defends nothing, but only knows where the rarest wildflowers are blooming". - Wendell Berry.