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Leucadendron tinctum
Leucadendron tinctum
Freesia leichtlinii
Printzia polifolia

Salvia africana
Acmadenia shielae
Freylinia vlokii
Anderbergia rooibergensis

Cyclopia intermedia
Leucadendron sp. nova
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Di Turner

CREW Custodians of Rare & Endangered Wildflowers

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Vampire’s Cup, Anderbergia and High Tea

Add to that Dune Molerat, Rooiberg Pass, a night at the stables at Gamkaberg, the Rooiberg Jeep Track, a hike up and down Tierkloof with a night spent at Oukraal, a 2 day exploration of Garcia Pass, a preliminary visit to the Cola Beach Conservancy, a specimen collecting trip to Herbertsdale and Mossel Bay with the Southern Cape Herbarium and it seems unlikely that we could have fitted that all into 8 days and still have lead a reasonably normal life.

Well, we did, but nothing in our lives is normal at this time of the year and we cheated a bit by splitting up the Group. Attempting to monitor all the plants that flower in Spring in the Southern Cape is an impossible task, but we’re going to die trying. There was no time to do the Reportback for last Monday, so this is 2 in 1.

Wednesday 7th - Dune Molerat with Wags was very pleasant. I started a little earlier than the rest giving myself time to do site sheets and had a very pleasant walk to the northern side of the Reserve. As I turned on to the path that meanders along the river, I saw somebody hiding in the bushes. I hastily retreated behind a bush. When I looked again the head was up and hastily dropped as it saw me. I decided on “Discretion is the Better part of Valour” and did the shortened form on the northern side avoiding the boardwalks. I have been hiking Dune Molerat since 1970 and this is the first time that I’ve had any sort of security issue. I reported it to the office at Rondevlei and the rangers went out to check almost immediately. After a rather nasty fright, I was cheered by the gorgeous Freesia leichtlinii ssp alba (Near Threatened), which was scattered across the Reserve and Gnidia chrysophylla (Vulnerable) growing on the eastern side close to the Swartvlei lookout.

Thursday 8th –Vampires Cup possible Cytinus sp nova- “Nina Hobbhahn is a post-doctoral fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal but living in Cape Town who is working on the genus of parasitic plants Cytinus. We met outside the Scientific Services offices at Rondevlei on Thursday, 8th September. We were soon joined by Jonathan Britton and Johan Baard from SANParks, Gail and Rusell from the Outramps. After Nina gave us a brief description of what she wanted to find out about the population of the dark red species found in the area and how she was going to do tackle it, we headed off, armed with brightly coloured tape to hunt for the plants. It wasn’t long before we got our eye in and pink, orange and blue tape was decorating the taller plants indicating the presence of Cytinus plants below them. After carefully digging up a specimen we found the host plant to be a Thymelaeaceae (most likely Passerina rigida). This is the first time Nina had seen this, as Cytinus hosts are usually from the Asteraceae family. We left Nina to continue her detailed observations of this Cytinus population and look forward to getting her results and conclusions.” - Nicky van Berkel (Outramps)

Friday 9th -Rooiberg Pass – The news about Freylina vlokii (Endangered) is not good. There has been some road widening and it looks as if some of the plants have been destroyed. We found 4 plants growing high above the road, but couldn’t find any in the watercourse. I think we were on the late side for flowering, so will go a little earlier next year and spend a whole day scouring the area looking for the Rooiberg Honey Bells. I think consideration should be given to upgrading the threat status to Critically Endangered. This is the only known location for Jan’s Freylinia, which was previously threatened by water extraction. This project was abandoned because of the threat to the plant, but might rear its ugly head again. Higher up on the southern side, we stopped just above the quarry. Leucospermum pluridens (Near Threatened) was on both sides of the road, but there seem to be fewer plants than last time. Metalasia tricolor (Critically Rare) again eluded us completely, although we looked long and hard. After much thought, its common name has been established as that “Damned Diabolical Daisy”. The only people who can find it are Jan and Annelise Vlok and Jean, who wasn’t there. Maybe next time………………….. Lotononis dahlgrenii (Vulnerable) was on the dry northern slopes and Glottiphyllum regium (Endangered) was thriving further on. The party then split. Most went home and Dave, Nicky and I spent a very comfortable evening at the Stables at Gamkaberg. We haven’t been there for ages and it was great to see some of our good Gamkaberg friends again. They always give us such a warm welcome.

Saturday 10th - Rooiberg Jeep Track. We were up early and on to the Rooiberg Jeep Track heading west. We drove to the concrete road, but time constraints prevented our getting any further in the Drifter. I did most of the 4x4 driving, which was very good practice for me. As always, Nicky took most of the photographs and Dave walked some distance further. His was to be the find of the day. “I was walking along the edge of the south facing cliff looking for your Heliophila (H.glauca)when I noticed an unusual plant - not quite Metalasia, not quite Eriocephalus and not quite Helichrysum.... It was a lucky find”. It turned out to be Anderbergia rooibergensis, which is only known from 1 population and is Redlisted as Critically Rare. It is a first for the Outramps and one of our target species. Other than that very exciting plant, we saw plenty of stunning Leucospermum pluridens (Near Threatened) , 2 colonies of the aptly named Toffee-Apple Conebush - Leucadendron tinctum (Near Threatened), 1 clump of Cyclopia intermedia (Declining) and the Leucadendron sp. nova (Rare) that Tony Rebelo confirmed on a trip in 2014. We need about 3 days to monitor the jeep track plants thoroughly and time in Spring is at such a premium. On this occasion we only scratched the surface.

Monday 12th – Preliminary Survey at Cola Beach
“Nicky and I have been asked to take a group from the Cola Beach Conservancy on a flower walk through their own turf. We have done a preliminary recce and there is no lack of interesting plants. Development is clearly a major threat in the area” - Jean Purcell

Tuesday 13th – Specimen Collecting trip to Mossel Bay and Herbertsdale
“On an outing with Southern Cape Herbarium staff, Rusell, Gail and Jean were shown a site barely off the N2 where Gnaphalium declinatum (Near Threatened) grows in abundance. We had not expected it to be quite so low-growing – a mat of silvery leaves with little flowering stems about 2 cm long. Next surprise was another unlikely-looking site which delivered orchids Disa hallackii (Endangered), Acrolophia cochlearis (Least Concern) and another one unfamiliar even to Rusell.” - Jean Purcell

Tuesday 13/Wednesday 14th – Oukraal via Tierkloof and back via De Hoek
It is ages since I have hiked up Tierkloof to Oukraal. Right near the start we found the first Arctotis sp. nova (rivulicola). It appeared sporadically on the sandy sections of the kloof to just below the cave. On the high cliffs to both the east and the west, Pentatrichia integra was hanging from the dramatic rock high walls in the narrow kloof. It was unfortunately over and pretty high up, so the photos aren’t great. Where the kloof flattened out a bit, we saw patches of Agathosma sp. nova (arida) alongside the path. A little higher up there were large clumps of Aspalathus pedunculata (Rare) and a few plants of Lotononis filiformis (Endangered) in the Renosterveld. We have never found this beautiful blue Lotononis at Gamkaberg before and it could be a first for this area. Oukraal is stunning and truly the “Jewel in the Crown” of the beautifully managed Gamkaberg Nature Reserve with all its wonderful people. A stunning sunset put the seal on a wonderful evening in this fabulous getaway. The little A frame cottages are a real treat and so comfortable, so thank you Tom.

An early start saw us take the jeep track that leads to the western boundary to return to the offices via De Hoek and a big patch of Leucadendron pluridens (Near Threatened). En route we saw a bright orange Romulea with a yellow cup in the centre. We are hoping that it is R. jugicola, which we have never seen in Gamkaberg before. Close to the highest point, there was a Paranomus, which I think was P roodebergensis. However, many years ago during the Protea Atlas years, we found a Paranomus sp. nova (Leeugamka), somewhere around here and I am hoping against hope that we may have found it again. Tony will undoubtedly be able to id it definitely for us. A beautiful blue/mauve Gladious, a magenta Ixia, various Heliophilas and a fluffy Phylica still need id’ing. This will happen ITFOT. We saw more Aspalathus pedunculata (Rare) and the heavily grazed Lotononis dahlgrenii (Vulnerable) was prominent, as we approached the lower sections of the steep downhill before reaching the bottom. Altogether a very satisfactory and enjoyable trip.

Thursday 15th – High Tea at Jubilee Creek Some highlights of an exceptional morning - a chance to talk to some of the Rheenendal community, a ride in a taxi with a very nice man, getting to chat to Nandi, Maretha, Mark from Nature’s Valley Trust, Paddy Gordon the Wilderness National Park Manager and Jessica Hayes from the Rondevlei Offices. We met up with some friends that we haven’t seen for ages and were fed scrumptious eats in the most beautiful surroundings. Thank you Sanparks for this opportunity to network and hear more about your objectives for the future.

Friday 16/17/18th – Garcia Pass and Surrounds I will give feedback on this in next week’s Reportback

After all this in the words of Mowgli, “My head is ringing like a Bee-Tree”.
Hamba Kahle
Groete en dankie
Di Turner
Outramps CREW Group
Southern Cape

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