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Hermannia hyssopifolia
Hermannia hyssopifolia
Agathosma ovata
Aseroe rubra

Burchellia bubalina
Cliffortia filicaulis
George and Cradock Peak

Lauridia tetragona
Nuxia floribunda
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Di Turner

CREW Custodians of Rare & Endangered Wildflowers

Cell:+27 (0) 448770055
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Burchells Elephant Foot

We have lived at Strawberry Hill for 46 years since 1970. The property is about 2.5kms east of Saasveld and our road to town passes south of the entrance gates of the campus of NMMU. On Friday our destination was Woodifield, a magnificent property just opposite the Saasveld gates.

As we reached the top of the hill, we were met with billowing black smoke, the acrid smell of burning rubber and a number of students blocking the way into the University. Frustrated lecturers and students were unable to get in or out. It was a first in all the years that we have lived here and it’s a sorry sight. I am not going to comment on the wrongs and rights of it, but if our government wasted less money, University fees would be affordable for all the students. It is all very depressing and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it.

From last week’s Reportback – We have had a request from Lize and the Red List. She says, “I was at Kew in May and Dr Paul Wilkin, Dioscorea expert, said that he is very concerned about Dioscorea burchellii. He’s been in the field looking for it, but found most of its habitat lost to timber plantations and the rest very degraded. So I am uplisting this species to Vulnerable (current status LC), and Paul asked if you could please look out for it in the field.” One of the probable sites is fairly close to us at Woodifield opposite Saasveld, so that is what we are likely be doing for Friday’s field trip.” Some research in Cape Plants produced this information, “Perennial vine with branched tuber, stems twisting to the left, ribbed and warty, to 2 m. Leaves lanceolate to sagittate. Male flowers in nodding racemes, female flowers in nodding spikes, cream. Apr.--June. Damp sandstone slopes, SE (George to Humansdorp).” Johan Baard sent some pictures and some info on leaf size. He found it near Plett and that is the only sighting since 1964. So armed with that info, we decided to explore Woodifield, which features as one of the historical sites for Dioscorea burchellii.

Both Edward and Bruce Jackson were very helpful and permission was granted to hunt for the plant. They are the owners of Woodifield. Until you start looking for vines, you don’t realise how many there are on the forest fringes. We decided to do a “Kringe in die Bos” circuit of the top of Woodifield to hunt for Fynbos Islands in between the forest, extensive grasslands and some plantations. And the vines came thick and fast. Lauridia tetragona, Secamone alpine, Asparagus asparagoides, various Senecios and Rhoicissus all caused flickers of hope. However, none of them had “stems twisting to the left or warty stems”. So for the moment, the plant is proving elusive, but we have no intention of giving up. We are optimistic that we will find it ITFOT. Once we’ve seen it, our chances of finding it again are greatly improved. Despite our lack of success, we had a very pleasant morning. Woodifield has spectacular, panoramic views of Cradock and George Peaks and to the south you can see the sea. There are numerous tracks on the farm, including a newly opened cycle track. Preparations are underway for a run/cycle adventure event in the near future.

But what is a field trip without some drama? For once, the Buchu Bus was not involved, which makes a nice change. It was about 1km from home that Jen missed her car keys. There was consternation all round and we were hoping to find that she’d dropped them close to the vehicles. It would have been very difficult to retrace our steps exactly. Fortunately, one of the students that lodge at Woodfield had picked them up at the first gate that we climbed over. This was a huge relief and a salutary lesson that car keys need to be very safely stowed.

Next week looks Spring busy. On Tuesday Victoria Wilman from the Millennium Seed Bank is giving a seed-collecting course to the Outramps and some Southern Cape Herbarium volunteers at the Audrey Moriarty Centre. The MSB is very short-staffed and they are looking for some volunteer help, which we are very happy to give them in the course of our field trips. On Wednesday we are going to Camferskloof to put the theory learnt into practice. And then on Friday we are going to monitor the plants on the Rooiberg Pass. Some of us will spend the night at Gamkaberg and cover the plants from Rooiberg Peak back to the Rooiberg Pass on Saturday. The Rooiberg Spring show should be in full bloom and we are looking forward to the trip.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

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