Saturday, 31 December 2016

Back to Anemone Falls looking for succulents

A group of visitors from Gauteng with an interest in succulent plants had asked if they could join us on our walk this Thursday and we felt that we could probably accommodate their interest while heading back to Anemone falls. So, after a sociable cup of tea, we set off in two vehicles to the Western Heights and started walking.

Hardly had we left the vehicles when we found the first of the succulent plants, the Vulnerable endemic Delosperma subpetiolatum, in its habitat of choice, the bare flat rock plates that are fairly common in this area. 

Delosperma subpetiolatum
Despite the relatively dry conditions of the last few weeks, the seeps were still wet and we found a host of Utricularia species on the fringes of these.

Utricularia livida
Utricularia livida and U. subulata
We worked our way down along a forest-clad stream finding three red-listed endemics on the forest edge: Dahlgrenodendron natalense, Grewia pondoense and Putterlickia retrospinosa. It was not long before the slope of the stream became too steep for us to continue following as it dropped down towards the Umtamvuna River gorge. Here we found a Faurea macnaughtonii in flower at the edge of the forest.

The drop towards the Umtamvuna River
We headed eastwards across a small rise and walked down to the next small stream, which is the source of Anemone falls. Crossing the stream we saw a third Utricularia species, Utricularis prehensilis.

Utricularia prehensilis
Just across the wetland at the top of a small cascade we came across the first of many Habenaria dives, growing amongst Rafnia elliptica shrubs on the hillside.

Habenaria dives
Rafnia elliptica
Working our way around the forest patch we arrived at the drop into the Umtamvuna River gorge next to Anemone Falls where we found a shady spot to enjoy lunch and take in the splendid view. Growing on a cliff edge we found several Erica cubica.

Erica cubica
After lunch, some of the more intrepid amongst us climbed down into the set of cascades and found the Near Threatened endemic Streptocarpus porphyrostachys hidden under a rock ledge in the waterfall. On the nearby stream bank and hanging out over the cliff were some large Agapanthus campanulatus. Under the shrubs were several Stenoglottis macloughlinii and above them in the shade were Streptocarpus formosus. The eponymous Anemone bracteata were still flowering as were a very few Pseudoscolopia polyantha.
Streptocarpus porphyrostachys
Agapanthus campanulatus
Stenoglottis macloughlinii
Streptocarpus formosus
Heading back homeward, we found several other orchids in the grassland: Satyrium trinerve, Orthochilus ensatus, Orthochilus odontoglossus and Brachycorythis inhambanensis. 

Brachycorythis inhambanensis
Orthochilus ensatus
Orthochilus odontoglossus
As we climbed higher up the slope, we came across more rock plates and here we found several of the Vulnerable endemic 
Crassula obovata var. dregeana with its beautifully textured leaves - another special succulent to show our visitors.

Crassula obovata var. dregeana 
Along the roadside we found a few Cycnium adonense.

Cycnium adonense
While the weather had looked threatening when we started walking, it remained overcast but rainless, allowing us to have a very enjoyable walk.

Participants Anne S, Debbie K, Gerhard S, Graham G, Hans G, Kate G, Luise G, Uschi T.

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