Damned diabolical daizy
This AGM was different to the usual boring affair. The Gouritz Biosphere AGM at Mossel Bay was well worth the travelling. The speakers were brilliant, the AGM part went by in a flash and the day ended with a visit to the Diosma aristata Reserve to the east of Pinnacle Point with AnneLise Vlok. You don’t get it much better than that.
AnneLise patiently put up with a barrage of questions, covering our plant queries from the last few weeks. It’s not often that we get this kind of opportunity. In a brief walk through this tiny Reserve, we found 6 species of Conservation Concern, including the Critically Endangered Diosma aristata. Others were Erica dispar (Near Threatened), Leucospermum praecox (Vulnerable), Carpobrotus muirii (Vulnerable), Freesia leichtlinii subsp. alba (Near Threatened) and Agathosma muirii (Vulnerable). We were horrified to see that this Reserve is horribly neglected, despite its obvious value for conserving these highly threatened plants. It is being used as a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish. The aliens are taking over. I’m surprised that the Heiderand residents have allowed this to happen. Maybe they don’t know what is on their doorstep. Mossel Bay, you need to look after this Diosma aristata Reserve. Will someone please send this on to the relevant people in the Mossel Bay municipality?. Hopefully, they will do something to prevent further degradation. On Wednesday I attended a Protected Areas Advisory Committee meeting at Witfontein. It was good to catch up with OT, Nokuthula and Karen. OT outlined what the Outeniqua Reserve is doing. To my delight, the trails are being prioritised. On Friday, we decided to drive down the Langkloof Road and turn in when we saw a likely track going up the mountain. This is how we got to Louvain. Nico Bester was very welcoming and we set off on his 4×4 route that meets up with the old Voortrekker Pass. This links up with Duiwelskop at the summit of Kleinplaat. We had no particular plants in our sights, but as always, we managed to find something. The lower half of the track is very degraded with Acacia longifolius, Bluegums, Wattle and Hakea sericea. There was some red-tipped Hakea and Prickly Pear as well. It was all a little bit depressing. It was a bitterly cold day. For much of the time, we were walking into the teeth of the wind. As we got higher up, the aliens became less and we were rewarded with some interesting plants. Cyclopia subternata (Declining) was in flower and near the top we saw a small white Erica. We think it is Erica inconstans (Vulnerable), although this id needs positive confirmation. Our Erica expert is away, so we will only know later in the week. Last week at Windmeulnek, there was a surprise for us. Nicky photographs everything she can see and one of her pics turned out to be E inconstans. We thought we’d missed it. The planned field trip for Friday is to Bergplaas to again hunt for this very inconspicuous Erica. We should have it well covered, by the end of these few weeks. On Saturday, some of the Outramps went on the WESSA excursion to Gamkaberg and Rooiberg. It was a freezing day, with the odd spit and spot of rain. The wind was coming straight off the snow-clad Swartberg. This didn’t dampen the spirits. It was an entertaining and informative day. We learnt some Geology and something about the fossils. Tom Barry told us all about this wonderful Reserve, which keeps on winning awards. Rooiberg was looking stunning and we were able to show the visitors some of the Endangered plants that we monitor and how we do it. Jean found the Damned Diabolical Daisy (Metalasia tricolor) and was able to demonstrate what makes it different to the very similar Metalasia pallida, which also grows here. It is a matter of flowerets in flowerets. I still don’t have much confidence that I would find it on a regular basis. It proved to be a very good day and very much enjoyed by all the participants. Wonderful news is that Hessequa have upgraded the Sleeping Beauty Trail. Shagon Carelse, who is the environmental officer, sent a short presentation to the Gouritz meeting.. It is hard to believe that our pleas for this magnificent and world class trail have been answered. I will be doing parts of it in 2 weeks time and I simply can’t wait. So thank you, thank you, thank you. We will do our best to publicise it, so that your efforts are rewarded. And then the “Cherry on the top” of a wonderful week.!!! I mentioned earlier that Nicky takes photos of everything she sees. She posted a Hermannia on iSpot from De Hoek in the Swartberg, photographed on a trip we did a few weeks ago. David Gwynne-Evans, who has revised the Hermannias, came back with this comment. “I think this may be the new one that Charlie Stirton found from around there somewhere. Anyhow, I would love to follow up on this. It’s definitely a new species, and either wholly new, or one that someone else has found.” “Our Cup Runneth over” as they say in the classics..
Groete en dankie
Di Turner Outramps
CREW Group Southern Cape