Saturday, 7 May 2016

Autumn amble on the Western Heights

As there were several plants we wanted to check up on we decided to return to some locations on the Western Heights. We were pleased to see on our arrival at the reserve gate that a start had been made on the management burns. Not unexpectedly, the fires had stimulated flowering from Cyrtanthus breviflorus and Gerbera natalensis, the latter sporting their woolly winter pajamas.
Cyrtanthus breviflorus
Gerbera natalensis
At this time last year a Scolopia mundii in a forested gully was full of orange fruits but this year there was no sign of fruit. 
Scolopia mundii in 2015

Nearby we found Eugenia verdoorniae and Eugenia umtamvunensis, both appearing to have only modest degrees of rust infestation. On an east-facing part of the cliffs we found Mystroxylon aethiopicum with several bright red fruits and close by there was a cluster of Erianthemum dregei flowers.
Mystroxylon aethiopicum
Erianthemum dregei
After a brief look in the gully to see if the Angraecum pusillum were flowering - they were - we headed across the stream and around a buttress and found a rather large cave to check for rock art (which required a bit of a scramble) - again no luck.

Scrambling across to the cave
The group with Anne climbing Tietiesberg in the background
Above these cliffs we found a small patch of very bright crimson Erica cerinthoides - a bit of a contrast to the normal orange colored flowers.

Leaving here we drove across to Iron Crown to see if there were more Erica cerinthoides flowering but unfortunately there were few flowers and these were only found after a rigorous search. On the way back we stopped to look at a small wetland - on the nearby rocks were clusters of Rhipsalis baccifera covered in fruit. The rocks themselves sculpted rugged silhouettes against the sky.
Weathered rocks
Rhipsalis baccifera - our only indigenous cactus
In the open grassland on the way back we found a small cluster of Aspalathus gerrardii, some in flower.
Aspalathus gerrardii
Participants: Anne S, Dorothy M, Graham G, Kate G, Uschi T.

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