Deciding to save the best for later, we started walking in the grasslands at the bottom of the hill and were soon dazzled by sheets of Monopsis decipiens with their beautiful, pansy-like flowers. Scattered amongst them were Dierama reynoldsii with their burgundy-coloured flowers contrasting with the silvery bracts. Another eye-catching but low-growing species was Cyanotis speciosa.
|Sheets of Monopsis descipiens|
We came across what we think is probably a creamy-yellow form of Gerbera ambigua as well as a pink form of Gerbera piloselloides.
|A yellow form of Gerbera ambigua|
|Pink and normal colour forms of Gerbera piloselloides|
Although not as prolific as we have seen before, we also found clusters of the Endangered narrow-endemic Eriosema populifolium, some with their first flowers. It seems that this year the flowers are a little later than in 2015. Also dotted about these slopes were the Endangered narrow-endemic Searsia rudatisii. The latter, with its small yellow-green flowers is far less obvious, surrounded as they are by other more prominent flowering species.
We also noticed patches of bright yellow-flowered Leobordea corymbosa on these slopes.
Having explored the lower slopes we drove up to the hilltops where we were joined by the farm owner to look at the Satyrium rhodanthum. They were certainly doing well - a recent count has put the total number in the two groups at around 100 plants. With the buds being rather obscure, one had to walk carefully to avoid damaging them. Also in this area were a few Disa brevicornis.
Having confirmed for ourselves that this subpopulation of Satyrium rhodanthum, an Endangered narrow endemic species, is in good hands we then headed down to the valley to look for the other Critically Endangered range-restricted species Riocreuxia flanaganii var. alexandrina. Again we were too early to see the species in flower but we did find a good number of small plants and some with a few buds.
It is very gratifying to see that this undulating grassland patch is being so well conserved - a credit to the farmer and his forebears.
Participants: Graham G, Kate G.