Saturday, 5 March 2016

Back to Ngele to locate another population of Emplectanthus gerrardii

After our last visit to Ngele to find Emplectanthus gerrardii, Robertson Madwe, the DAFF Security Guard who accompanied us, came across another population of what he thought was also Emplectanthus gerrardii while patrolling the forest. To confirm the identification of these plants and record the location, we made another trip to Ngele for Mr. Madwe to show us where he found this population.

After a relatively short walk through the forest and across the busy N2 highway, we arrived at the plants, some of which were still flowering. It was soon clear that while this is also a member of the family Apocynaceae, it is not an Emplectanthus. Specimens were taken of this unknown plant and we have referred it to an Apocynaceae specialist for identification. It will certainly be an addition to the plant species list for this area (See under "Species Lists" above). The plant was subsequently identified as a white form of Pentarrhinum insipidum, a species which has not previously been collected at Ngele.

This is the time of year when Plectranthus are at their best, as can be seen from the photo below.
Pondoland CREW with Robertson Madwe in front of Plectranthus ecklonii
As we returned through the forest we saw many Begonia geranioides at the side of the path. The photo below shows male and female flowers next to each other.

Begonia geranioides
We then left Mr Madwe as he had to travel to Pietermaritzburg and set off to explore a grassland patch near Umsilo Hut. Very soon we found ourselves dwarfed by towering Senecio panduriformis.

Senecio panduriformis inflorescense

Uschi amongst the Senecio panduriformis
As can be seen in the photos, the Kniphofia linearifolia were flowering well. 
Kniphofia linearifolia
There were several other plants flowering in a little wetland and close to a stream. A first for some of us was the sprawling Scabiosa tysonii with its purple flowers. Close by were Chaenostoma floribundum and several Cyphia tysonii twining up grass stems and bracken.

Scabiosa tysonii
Chaenostoma floribunda
Cyphia tysonii
On the slopes above the wetland there were many flat-headed Crassula acinaciformis and then we started encountering orchids. First we found some Brownleea parviflora and several Habenaria cornuta.

Crassula acinaciformis
Brownleea parviflora
Habenaria cornuta
We then headed up to the grasslands below Umsilo Hut that were dotted about with bright pink Gladiolus oppositiflorus and not far away, an even pinker Disa nervosa. We also found Sopubia cana with its grey leaves and contrasting pink flowers.
Gladiolus oppositiflorus
Disa nervosa
Sopubia cana
A brief foray into a wooded area turned up Stachys caffra, Impatiens hochstetterii and Sparmannia ricinicarpa, and under the pine trees we found groups of Disperis fanniniae.

Stachys caffra
Impatiens hochstetteri
Sparmannia ricinocarpa
Disperis fanniniae
Heading back home we stopped at a stream and found Smithia erubescens hanging out over the water, a creeping Ceratiosicyos laevis and a Lasiosiphon species (still to be confirmed).

Smithia erubescens

Ceratiosicyos laevis
Lasiosiphon sp
Pondoland CREW on the Umsilo Hut grasslands
After a long but unexpectedly fruitful day, we returned with homework to do on some species new to us.

Participants: Anne S, Dorothy M, Graham G, Kate G, Uschi T.

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