Sunday, 27 August 2017

Seaslopes grassland revisited (Thursday 24 August 2017)

On this occasion, armed with more information about proposed alignments for the pipeline crossing these grasslands between the upper and lower reservoir sites, we went to investigate which of the alignments would, in our opinion, have the least environmental impact on this site.

As before, we entered the site from the lower (eastern) corner but on this occasion we headed directly for the gum plantations situated on the highest parts of the site. Next to the track were a few Eriosema parviflora in bud. As we neared the wetland we came across several Kniphofia rooperi in flower and nearby were some white-flowered Eriospermum cooperi.

Eriosema parviflora

Kniphofia rooperi

Eriospermum cooperi

Working our way past some Tephrosia grandiflora on the climb up the slope towards the first gum plantation we encountered a few stakes with hazard marking - presumably a proposed alignment -  but not one of the two main alternatives we were to investigate. We proceeded up into the gums noting the scarcity of forbs other than weeds and then walked to the top reservoir. From here we could see some markers that we decided were those indicating the route of the existing pipe servitude between the two reservoir complexes.

Walking this route, we could soon see that this was secondary grassland and very species-depauperate. There was a big patch of Chromolaena odorata and Lantana camara along this route and after that more secondary grassland all the way to the lower reservoirs.

There were a few imposing specimens of Scadoxus puniceus close to the reservoirs and then we started seeing greater plant diversity with the usual mix of early spring forbs.

Scadoxus puniceus bud

By now a cold south-west wind was howling around us and making photography difficult so we took shelter in the lee of a rock outcrop and had lunch in the warm spring sunshine. At our feet were several Euphorbia flanaganii, one in flower. On the slope opposite us we could see clusters of orange flowers which we thought might be Tritonia gladiolaris but on closer inspection these turned out to be two species of Berkheya - B. insignis and B speciosa.

Euphorbia flanaganii

Berkheya insignis

Berkheya speciosa
Sheltering from the wind

As it was still early when we finished this walk, we decided to return to Seaview farm to get accurate GPS coordinates on some of the threatened species. While we were doing this we came across an additional species of conservation concern, Rhynchocalyx lawsonoides. We also found the short-spurred form of Eulophia parviflora, the first for this spring season.

Eulophia parviflora (short spurred form)

Later, on the way home we chanced across a population of yellow flowers at the roadside. These turned out to be Eriosema luteopetalum, one of the more imposing Eriosema.

Eriosema luteopetalum

Participants: Anne S, Gail B-W, Graham G, Kate G, Maggie A, Phakamani M, Uschi T.

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