Saturday, 23 September 2017

Vernon Crookes NR with UKZN students

We arranged to meet Prof. Benny Bytebier and four of his students to accompany them on a walk through the grasslands and forest margins of this reserve. We met along the road towards the reception offices where we were looking at a small population of Haemanthus deformis in the shade of a small bush clump. Nearby we found Jasminum multipartitum with its star-like white flowers, Thunbergia natalensis, Ipomoea plebeia and some robust-looking Gerbera ambigua.

Haemanthus deformis in fruit

Thunbergia natalensis

Jasminum multipartitum

With one of the students, Tanya, focussing her Masters research on Euphorbiaceae we made a point of looking for plants in that family. These included members of the genera Acalypha, Clutia, Croton and Macaranga. It was interesting to note that while there were many Croton sylvatica, very few had flower buds.

In one area we found several of the Endangered, narrow-endemic Searsia rudatisii, some in flower. In the same grassland area we found a few Triglochin milnei in flower.

Searsia rudatisii

Triglochin milnei

Growing in cracks in some of the granite boulders, we found Ochna arborea putting on a show with its bright gold flowers.

Ochna arborea

Another species we encountered that enjoys the proximity of such rock outcrops was one to warn the students about -- Obetia tenax, the tree nettle, has a fierce sting to plague the unwary. Otherwise, this is an attractive small tree.

Obetia tenax

Ledebouria revoluta flowers were very much in evidence in the grasslands, some having multiple inflorescenses.

Ledebouria revoluta

Other plants we saw included Monopsis decipiens, Drimia elata and Canthium suberosum.

Canthium suberosum in fruit

Posed in front of a large granite boulder

Participants: Amy S, Benny B, Gail B-W, Graham G, Kate G, Phakamani M, Sthembile N, Tanya M, Uschi T, Zodwa M.

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