Adam Shuttleworth expressed an interest in seeing Miraglossum superbum and since I am always keen to visit Ntsikeni - particularly in January - we arranged to meet along the Franklin/Ntsikeni road to the reserve. Adam was accompanied by Ruth Cozien who was looking for Guthrea capensis as she is studying the pollination of this species and hoped to find a population at Ntsikeni. With little time at our disposal and a lot of ground to cover, we drove straight to the first stream crossing in the reserve. Adam found an Asclepias vicaria here amongst several clusters of Aloe ecklonis.
At this point Ruth left to explore a nearby gorge and having checked the population of Disa scullyi and some very tall Disa chrysostachya (plus several other species growing in this wetland), Adam and I drove further to the second stream crossing where we stopped and set out to look for Miraglossum superbum in the open grassland.
The first plants to catch the eye here were several Disa cooperi, differentiated from D. scullyi by the green lip. It was not long before we found the first Miraglossum -unfortunately not the M. superbum we were looking for but M. pulchellum. Despite being relatively nondescript from a distance (and very attractive up close), we soon realised that there were a great many of these Miraglossum in this area. We also saw Hermannia woodii and large numbers of Monsonia grandifolia. Ruth briefly joined us here before driving on to the lodge and setting off up the mountain.
We drove a short distance to a dolerite ridge and worked our way along it. There were many Eulophia zeyheriana flowering on either side of the ridge. We also found two specimens of the as-yet undescribed species of Xysmalobium. Other species seen here were Pachycarpus dealbatus, Brunsvigia grandiflora, Disa cornuta and Satyrium hallackii.
|Xysmalobium sp. nov.|
After a stop for lunch at the lodge, we explored the mountain slopes opposite the lodge. Walking through the wetland to get to the mountain, I saw a single Disa rhodantha. On the lower slopes I found several Disa versicolor and two Argyrolobium species, namely A. sericosemium and Argyrolobium tuberosum. There was also a small Lotononis lotononoides and many Galium capense and Xysmalobium tysonianum. Perched on the damp edge above a sandstone outcrop were several Disa oreophila.
With thunder rolling and mist creeping in I decided it was time to head home while Adam waited for Ruth to come back down from where she had found the population of Guthrea capensis. On the way back I stopped at a roadside cutting and found some slightly dusty but beautiful Cyrtanthus epiphyticus and Eucomis humilis.