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Erica glandulosa
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Di Turner

CREW Custodians of Rare & Endangered Wildflowers

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Candy-Floss on the Silcrete Tables

Three field trips in 1 week is pushing it. The actual time spent on the field trip is the least of the problems. On Tuesday, we visited the Campbell property (Uitzicht) in Brenton to do an informal survey of the plants that grow there.

Sometime in August, it is being burnt by Sanparks and they were keen to have a before and after. Fossicking or a meter per minute is not usually to my taste. However, this was over steep dunes with spectacular views across to Buffalo Bay and it turned out to be a very pleasant day. Chris Gow from the Brenton Conservancy joined us for part of the morning. There were enough plants of interest to keep us enthusiastic. I will list the Rares separately at the end of the Reportback. The species list is work in progress and id’s still need to be confirmed. We will circulate it in a week or two.

Nicky took most of the photos, which will be uploaded on to iSpot, Rusell collected specimens for the Southern Cape Herbarium, I took photos of the Rares for the site sheets and did a running species list and Gail acted as the spotter. But it’s when you get home that the real work begins. Hours and hours of time are taken up in completing these tasks. Nicky is up half the night and you will find her still posting in the small hours of the morning. I get up at 3am most days. Rusell and Gail have a huge job to get the specimens processed and written up for the Herbarium. When this is done, the specimens will be linked to the photographs on a special project on iSpot, the species list will be updated and the Red List data will be available for SANBI. And that is 1 field trip. Now multiply it by 3 and there’s no wonder that I’m hyperventilating, because we’re so far behind. What happened to a leisurely retirement?

It was overcast, but not raining on Friday when we left George for the eastern head of Perdepoort and the silcrete tables. We were expecting relatively clear skies on the northern side of the Outeniquas, but were surprised to find it heavily overcast, with mist on the deck and a persistent and miserable wind-driven drizzle. It was perishingly cold. There were 8 of us in the Buchu Bus and there was a marked lack of enthusiasm for getting out of the BOB. Only Sally looked happy with a hot cup of coffee to warm her hands. However, the Outramps are not woesses and eventually we piled out, braving the wet and cold and headed through the gate. Here we split up into several parties. One fossicked around the first and second tables and the rest went east to explore new territory on the 4th, 5th and 6th tables. There was lots of Boophone disticha (Declining) on the lower reaches. Aspalathus pedunculata (Rare) and Erica vlokii (Endangered) were present on all the tables, sometimes in profusion. Indigofera sp 19 (not evaluated) was spotted below the 1st and 2nd tables, together with Agathosma sp. nova (arida – Not evaluated) some way below it. The find of the day further east was Harveya roseo-alba (Rare) discovered by Sally. At this stage of its early development it resembles Candy-Floss exactly and looks good enough to eat. Sally’s photo is evidence of that. Wendy was excited by two rather odd Oxalis, which will be posted on iSpot for Kenneth Oberlander’s attention. Conophytum truncatum ssp. truncatum var. truncatum (Not evaluated) will also need to be confirmed on iSpot. Evie from out HAT from the Mountain Club is making excellent progress with botanical names and id’s. This bodes well for the monitoring of the High Altitude plants in the future. After a very chilly day, it was good to get back home to the comfort of a roaring log fire.

On Sunday we are joining the Mountain Club at the top of the Swartberg Pass going east. If Perdepoort was cold, the Swartberg will be icy and we are expecting to see snow. It gives me another opportunity to see the specials that come thick and fast on this ridge. The main problem will be taking notes and photos with frozen hands . I haven’t worked out how to do this with gloves on. I will report on this trip next week. I will undoubtedly not be feeling like adding to the Reportback by the time we get home.

The weather forecast has been a little irritating recently. They forecast heavy rain and then you get a “spit and a spot”. They also are unable to decide on which day the foul weather will arrive. With these constraints, I tentatively suggest Doringrivier from Zebra, De Hoek to the nek above Bothas Hoek, or the northern side of Witblitz in the Langeberg. If the torrential rains that are currently forecast do happen, we may have to opt for something more mundane and nearer home. So next week’s field trip is in the lap of the Weather Gods……………
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

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