Friday, 4 November 2016

A second visit to the Lower Smedmore forests

What a change a little rain and the elapse of some time made to the state of the grasslands at Manilkara Meander - the starting point of our walk down to the forests of Lower Smedmore. The previous time we walked here there were few flowers to be seen. This time the Berkheya and Helichrysum were flowering well. There were not many flowers we had not seen elsewhere in the reserve earlier this season but it was good to see how well the grassland here had recovered from the rather late burn.
Fields of Berkheya
The day had started hot and the humidity was high and by the time we reached the forest everyone was looking forward to the shade (and glowing gently, some more so than others!). Unfortunately, while it was cooler in the shade, the humidity was higher.

Equipped with an extendible set of loppers, we were able to confirm that the flowering tree we identified last time as Strychnos decurrens was indeed that species. In the understorey, Excoecaria simii was common, many bearing fruits, as was Bachmannia woodii. A little further into the forest we came across an unfamiliar, scalloped-leafed Plectranthus. A little work at home revealed that this is Plectranthus aliciae; while it is included in the species list for the reserve, we had no specimen material in the herbarium, so luckily we will now be able to rectify that omission.
Bachmannia woodii fruit
Plectranthus aliciae
 Shining in a small patch of sunlight was a cluster of fruits on Scadoxus membranaceus. Perhaps we would have caught these plants in flower if we had ventured a little further into the forest last time. While we penetrated some distance into the trackless forest there was no other reason to put the loppers to use - all that effort for so little return!

Scadoxus membranaceus
On the way back out of the forest we found a Monanthotaxis caffra in flower, and on the forest fringe were some Dais cotinifolia.

Monanthotaxis caffra
Dais cotinifolia

The Manilkara Meander cliff edges in the background above us

A view down the Umtamvuna River
Returning along the lower-level cliff edges and then up the steep slope back to the vehicle we encountered a few interesting plants: a Petopentia natalensis with its typical paired fruits, many Lobelia flaccida flowers nestled like little stars below the tall grass, Robsonodendron eucleiforme and Jasminum multipartitum fruits, some Olea capensis subsp. enervis in flower, a Raphionacme palustris and a colony of Hesperantha baurii.

Petopentia natalensis
Lobelia flaccida
Jasminum multipartitum fruits
Robsonodendron eucleiforme fruits
Olea capensis subsp. enervis
Raphionacme palustris
Hesperantha baurii
We got back to the vehicle with thunder rolling around us, and, by the look of it, good rain was falling inland. We were all looking forward to a shower, but preferred to get that in the comfort of our own homes.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment