Friday, 22 April 2016

To the Western Heights for Ericas and Oleas

We had been asked to look out for flowering Erica cerinthoides var barbetona plants and also wanted to try to find ripe fruits on Olea capensis subsp. enervis, so we elected to go to the Western Heights area of the Umtamvuna NR where we knew both species could be found.

On the way we saw Erica aspalathifolia still flowering. While driving across the Western Heights towards Vulture Nek, we spotted some orchids and stopped to see what they were. These turned out to be Habenaria falcicornis - we saw a few more of these scattered through the grassland in the course of the day. Just before arriving at Iron Crown we found a few bright orange Erica cerinthoides in flower - it seems these are just starting to flower so there should be more in the weeks to come.

Habenaria falcicornis
Erica cerinthoides var barbetona
We took time to wander around the Iron Crown area - the views into the Umtamvuna gorge from the east are spectacular as the cliffs drop vertically almost to river level.

The cliffs east of Iron Crown - this close to the edge a steadying hand is needed
Looking down into the gorge with the Umtamvuna river below
Close to these cliffs we found a very early flowering Eulophia parviflora and a Searsia pondoensis also in flower.

Eulophia parviflora
Searsia pondoensis
On the cliff edge we found an Olea capensis subsp. enervis in flower, although the tree also had fruits. Other trees flowering nearby were Eugenia verdoorniae, Anastrabe integerrima and Maytenus acuminata.
Olea capensis subsp. enervis
We then left Iron Crown and headed towards the old Vulture Restaurant site - on the way we found Moraea spathulata, Rafnia elliptica and Pimpinella caffra in flower.

Moraea spathulata
Pimpinella caffra
Rafnia elliptica
On rocks under the forest canopy near the old Vulture Restaurant there were Stenoglottis fimbriata with fruits and some Peperomia retusa in flower. Under shrubs at the edge of the cliffs there were groups of Kalanchoe rotundifolia in flower.

Peperomia retusa
Kalanchoe rotundifolia
In the grassland we found a few unobtrusive Aloe myriacantha and a solitary Monsonia praemorsa with its delicate scrollwork on the outside of the petals and very hairy calyces.
Aloe myriacantha
Monsonia praemorsa

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

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