The pot of gold
Despite fairly vigorous harvesting, the Honey Teabush is holding its own in that situation. Lower down on private land, a lot of the plants have been cut so extensively, that they have died. It is a case of “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs” and another example of the greed and stupidity of man. Despite this, the trip was a triumphant celebration of the rares that abound there.
We left Strawberry Hill early to join The MCSA South Cape Meet participants at the Woudberg farm below Mannetjiesberg. Bill let me drive to give me practice at negotiating a 4×4. Phillip Esau, the Reserve Manager had warned of a very wet patch that might give trouble. After the recent rains, all the rivers were running high. Ahead of me, Fred had some difficulty, but eventually got through. With my heart in my mouth I approached slowly, but was completely unnerved when the Drifter slewed sideways and stalled. Any desire to drive left me and Bill had to extricate the car, which he did successfully. We encountered no more problems and overall, the road is in good condition.
The main party stopped at the nek below Mannetjiesberg where we spent the night. HAT climbed the mountain via the rather daunting “mannetjie”, which required some scrambling on exposed rock. Bill and I drove another 2 kms to the base of the Mast Peak just west of Mannetjiesberg. One of the main attractions here, is the beautifully graded and unexpected path that leads to the top. On a rocky outcrop, just below the summit, we found some exciting rares. There were 2 plants of Protea rupicola (Endangered) hiding in a crevice. Just beyond, there were 12 Leucadendron singulare (Vulnerable) plants in fine fettle. The scarlet Erica inordinata (Rare) was sparsely scattered on the slope. The next surprise was an eye-catching bright orange daisy, Relhania decussata (Rare). All the way up Bobartia paniculata (Rare) had flowered, leaving the dead flower stalks as evidence of the recent profusion.
On the northern side of the summit there was the tiny felted grey Helichrysum saxicola (Rare) and Aspalathus congesta (Rare) . We may have found Aspalathus patens (Rare) as well, but that needs confirmation. Descending the rocky ridge to the west, there were a couple more Protea rupicola plants in the crevices. Also, sheltering in amongst the rocks was Agathosma zwartbergense (Vulnerable) in early bud. Helichrysum montana (Rare), Cyclopia plicata and Bobartia paniculata were all over the slopes on the descent.
Then it was back to our camp below Mannetjiesberg, where The Boy was just tuning into his “Draadloos” to listen to the dreaded quarter-final clash between Wales and the Sprinboks. As everyone knows, it was a very tight match and only decided in the dying moments. I would have had a heart attack, if I’d had to watch that on TV. The victory put a seal on a truly wonderful and memorable day in spectacular surroundings. We had a very pleasant evening and all slept like logs in our various tents and bakkies.
Early the next morning we drove to the shelter. I was delighted to see that it is still there and that the toilet is intact. That alone makes it worth another visit in the Autumn. The shelter is currently filled with bags of cement, but these will no doubt disappear soon as they continue their work on the jeep track to Perdevlakte. Just north of the shelter and on the western side of the stream, we found the long-remembered colony of Gladiolus fourcadei (Endangered). There were 12 plants. Karen and I decided to walk back to the farm along the jeep track, whilst the others explored the area to the north of the shelter, hoping to find Waterfall Cave.
Apart from Cyclopia plicata, Erica inordinata, and Bobartia paniculata, we also found Geissorrhiza elsiae (Rare) and Aristea nana (Rare). The Geissorhiza is named after Elsie Esterhuysen, the famous botanical explorer. There are a whole lot of Ericas that need ids and some of them might turn out to be interesting, but Jen will need time to sort them out for us.
I love the Kammanassie. Thanks to the MCSA and Derek Odendaal for arranging the trip. It will long be remembered, because of great people, spectacular views and simply magnificent plants. Phillip, you can be really proud of your Reserve.
Groete en dankie