Sunday, 18 September 2016

Manilkara Meander revisited

As we were unable to identify several plants on our previous visit to this area, we sent off photos to consult with experts. Geoff Nichols reverted with suggestions but expressed a wish to go to Manilkara Meander to take his own photos of some of these puzzling species. So on a Saturday morning for which rain was predicted we headed off, bundled up against the cold wind.

The first of our puzzles was a large tree - we were agreed on the genus (Strychnos) but needed to sort out which species. After checking the tree - still in bud, we agreed that this was Strychnos henningsii. 
Strychnos henningsii
The next plant in question was a small upright tree growing on the edge of the cliffs. On the previous visit we had found it with tiny white buds in the leaf axils and we had not been able to identify it with certainty, even to genus level. On this occasion it was in full flower and putting on a real show. After further head scratching and consultation we determined that this was Dovyalis lucida. The flowers depicted in the photo below are the male flowers. This seems to be a species worthy of horticultural attention, as even without flowers it is a striking plant with its shiny oval leaves and upright stance.

The eponymous Manilkara nicholsonii (endangered), of which there are several along this stretch of cliffs, were looking very healthy with a flush of shiny new leaves. 

Dovyalis lucida
Dovyalis lucida
A little further along we found a number of a species of Gerbera growing on a fairly sheer face in forest shade and this has presented us with another taxonomic puzzle to be solved. We need to get back there again to collect fruits which should aid us in identifying this to species level.

Gerbera sp.
Participants: Graham G, Geoff N.

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