Friday, 1 April 2016

Discovering Brownleea Bank

As we had received a request to look out for the orchid species Ypsilopus erectus, we decided to return to the same area where we walked last week, but on this occasion to try to get to the opposite bank of the waterfall where we had seen suitable habitat for this range-restricted  species.
The rugged edge of the Umtamvuna River gorge

We first found our way into the stream bed and then down to the top edge of the waterfall where we enjoyed the stunning view across the gorge towards the Eastern Cape.

Climbing down to the waterfall
View from the top of the waterfall
In a seep at the side of the stream we came across a group of mauve tinged bladderwort species, Utricularia livida, and a bit further from the stream were sheets of the data deficient species Erica aspalathifolia with its white flowers tightly enclosing the stems
Utricularia livida
Along the cliff edge we found several Pondoland endemics - Eugenia erythrophylla, Eugenia verdoorniae, Manilkara nicholsonii and Pseudoscolopia polyantha. In the shade of the forest below the top edge of the scarp we many Brownleea coerulea - some surrounding a flowering Streptocarpus formosus.
Brownleea coerulea
There was a Robsonodendron ecleiforme in flower and not far away there was a Schefflera umbeliffera with inflorescence buds within reach.
Robsonodendron ecleiforme
Schefflera umbellifera
We came across a rather unusual colour of an undescribed Wahlenbergia, which we collected for our herbarium in the hopes that someone will work on this group soon.
Wahlenbergia sp.
At the forest edge we came across a Lotononis eriocarpa in flower. We kept checking the vertical faces of the rocks for signs of Ypsilopus and were finally rewarded with one plant with open flowers on a vertical face overhanging a vertical drop of about 350m.

Lotononis eriocarpa
Ypsilopus erectus - the brown in the background is the Umtamvuna River some 350 metres below
Uschi braving the drop to get a photo

 On the way back we found a solitary Disa tripetaloides at the edge of the stream.

 Disa tripetaloides
Participants: Anne S, Debbie K, Graham G, Kate G, Maggie A, Uschi T.

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