Kirstenbosch Branch AGM 2019 Report Back

On the 6th July the Kirstenbosch Branch held its Annual General Meeting in the Old Mutual Conference Hall at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (NBG). The meeting achieved quorum with 123 members present. This meeting marks some changes to the Kirstenbosch Branch Committee with Margaret Kahle, Natie Finkelstein, Bob Von Witt and Philip Howes standing down. All the outgoing committee members are thanked for their excellent service. Three new members joined the committee, namely Mo Dalwai, Carol Cornell and Dayne De Wet. The committee now stands as: Keith Kirsten (Chair), Cathy Jenkins (Vice-Chair), Mo Dalwai (Treasurer), Tom Robbins, Jeremy Wiley, Carol Cornell and Dayne De Wet.

The meeting was opened by new Kirstenbosch NBG Curator Werner Voigt, who started work at Kirstenbosch on the 1st June after moving from the Curator position at Karoo Desert NBG. Werner extended his thanks to the BotSoc volunteer team for their hard work and described his return to Kirstenbosch as ‘a homecoming’. Now that he has had time to settle in Werner looks forward to working with everyone going forward.

Top: Werner Voigt (Curator, Kirstenbosch NBG). Above: Keith Kirsten (Chairman, Kirstenbosch Branch).

The Chairman’s report was delivered by Keith Kirsten. Over the last year there have been some staff changes at the branch office. Catherine Gribble was re-appointed as Branch Manager from 1st November 2018, and Gianpaolo Gilardi, who was initially appointed to coordinate the 2019 Kirstenbosch Plant Fair, has now joined the management team on a permanent basis. Advertising is also currently underway to appoint a bookkeeper to assist with administration, the bookshop and membership.

Above: The Chairman’s Report was delivered by Keith Kirsten.

On the 4th October the branch received a visit from Paul Zammit, Director of Horticulture from Toronto Botanical Gardens. Paul gave us an enlightening presentation on biodiversity and a New Garden Ethic. It is the committee’s intention to invite Paul Zammit for an additional visit for the good of all the BotSoc branches. Over the last year the branch has also hosted several book launches, including ‘Strelitzias of the World’ by Himansu Baijnath and Patricia McCracken and ‘Sand Forest of Maputaland’ by Francois Du Randt.

Top: Margaret Kahle (Outgoing Branch Treasurer). Above: Bob Von Witt (Outgoing Branch Committee member).

On the 4-5th May the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair was relaunched. This was a tremendous success with the community of Cape Town and beyond turning out to enjoy the event. The branch committee, staff and volunteers are thanked for their hard work, without which it wouldn’t have been possible. Next year’s Kirstenbosch Plant Fair will take place on the 4-5thApril 2020.

Above: Tony Rebelo and Adam Harrower advise customers on their plant purchases at the 2019 Kirstenbosch Plant Fair.

On the 10th November 2018, Margaret Kahle and Keith Kirsten attended the national branch convention at Walter Sisulu NBG and on 18th May 2019 current Vice Chair Cathy Jenkins attended a Western Cape regional branch convention. These meetings are an important opportunity to network with members of other branches and receive updates on council and head officer matters.

The Kirstenbosch Branch has recently sponsored a six month internship for plant recording and labelling at Kirstenbosch NBG. The branch is also currently in discussion with Karoo Desert NBG to fund a similar internship there. Although still in progress, SANBI have agreed for the branch to proceed with preliminary research and terms and conditions for solar energy at Kirstenbosch NBG and the SANBI Head Office at Pretoria NBG. This will be a joint project with BotSoc national and spearheaded by the Kirstenbosch Branch under the new collaboration agreement with SANBI.

Above: Kirstenbosch branch committee 2018-19 with branch staff.

The branch is currently liaising with BotSoc national to implement a smooth transition for the Kirstenbosch bookshops back to the branch. Greg Donnelly has been appointed as the new bookshop manager and will start on the job on the 1stAugust. There are a number of new publications that will be brought to you. This will include the revised and updated ‘Wild Flowers of the Cape Peninsula’, ‘Cultures, Cures and Curiosities: Plant lore and legends of the Eastern Cape’ by Tony Dold and Susan Abrahams, SANBI’s Vol 1-3 ‘Flora of the Eastern Cape’ and ‘Flowering Plants of Southern Africa’ Vol 66.

Dee Rees, Marylin Wilford, Dayne De Wet and Mo Dalwai will be working hard alongside other volunteers to make a difference in areas of need in the Western Cape such as Edith Stephens Wetland Park in collaboration with Cape Town Environmental Education Trust, the University of the Western Cape and others. The branch calls upon members who enjoy working with children to help develop the branch’s youth project. For those who are interested in participating please contact the branch office for more information.

Above: Kirstenbosch branch committee and branch staff with newly elected 2019 committee members.

There will be several key member events coming up over the next 12 months so please keep an eye out for upcoming announcements. These include a lecture and book launch of the upcoming publication ‘Cradle of Life’ by Vincent Carruthers to be held in the Old Mutual Conference Hall at Kirstenbosch NBG on the 9th October at 4pm. Over Jan-Mar 2020 the branch will be hosting a botanical art exhibition of the work of Lady Cynthia Tait in the Richard Crowie Hall.

Above: Incoming Kirstenbosch branch committee with branch and national staff.

The Treasurer’s Report was presented by outgoing Treasurer Margaret Kahle who is thanked for her hard work over the last few years. Annual Financial Statements from 2018 and 2019 were presented and accepted.  Copies of these documents are available on the branch website. The BotSoc Auditor Annelie Lucas and Finance Manager Crystal Beukes were thanked for their friendly cooperation.

The meeting ended with refreshments and teas, concluding a fabulous event that truly did justice to the hard work and exciting initiatives undertaken over the last year as well as what is to come.


Help publish ‘Cultures, Cures and Curiosities’

The Botanical Society is delighted to announce that we are raising funds to make possible publication of an exciting new plant book. ‘Cultures, Cures and Curiosities: Plant-Lore and Legend of the Eastern Cape, South Africa’ is written by Tony Dold and illustrated by Susan Abraham.

Based on 20 years of empirical research, it features 40 Eastern Cape plants of ethnobotanical importance, whether used as charms, for food or as medicines. Modern-day use of many of these plants can be traced back to their traditional use by the Khoe, San or Xhosa.

Each plant species account is illustrated with a full-colour watercolour painting by botanical artist Susan Abraham. The introductory chapter gives a historical overview of the region’s botanical exploration, drawing on the earliest written records.

Pre-publication reviews

‘Cultures, Cures and Curiosities’ unpacks a treasure-trove of plants, poisons, stories and histories, scientific information and startling factoids – from rhinos on steroids to toxic chewing-gum to natural resource management. It is packed with beautiful photographs and exquisite botanical paintings as well as historical maps and travellers’ sketches. A delightful, nuggety book. – Hazel Crampton, author and artist

Susan Abraham’s botanical illustrations are beautiful, skilfully painted and accurately observed, showing the key scientific diagnostic elements. Together with the book’s photographs, they form a wonderful record and a fascinating glimpse into the useful flora of the Eastern Cape. – Vicki Thomas, botanical artist and teacher

Top: Gunnera sp. Above: Hydnora africana (Plates from upcoming publication).

Join our fundraising! 

Above: Photo from the book of Vervallen Kasteel, Aberdeen.

The publication of this book will be made possible only with the support of donors, sponsors and subscribers like you:

  • Become a donor by contributing a minimum of R20 000 towards the publication costs. Donors will receive a numbered copy of the book with an inscribed page, signed by the author and illustrator and presented in a slipcase.
  • Become a sponsor by contributing R1 500 (+R100 p&p within SA). Sponsors will receive a numbered copy of the book with an inscribed page, signed by author and illustrator.
  • As a subscriber, you can also show your support for the book by pre-purchasing a copy for R800 (+R100 p&p within SA).

Donors’, sponsors’ and subscribers’ names will be listed in the book.

Readers of Veld & Flora will also be able to pre-purchase a copy for R350 (+R100 p&p within SA).

Your financial support will ensure the success of this beautiful publication. Orders must be received no later than 31 July 2019. Order forms can be downloaded from the Botanical Society website.

Surplus funds donated to schools environmental programme

Above: The Inkcubeko nendalo schools programme in action.

Any funds raised beyond those needed for the book’s publication will be donated to the Inkcubeko nendalo schools programme. Meaning ‘culture and nature’, this environmental education project is a Rhodes University community engagement initiative in line with SA’s national curriculum.

Inkcubeko nendalois run by Professor Michelle Cocks, Tony Dold and Mluleki Nkosi in collaboration with the Albany Museum and the Selmar Schonland Herbarium. It aims to raise awareness among school learners of the value of nature as key to the future preservation of cultural heritage and biodiversity and of the link between cultural diversity and biodiversity.

Kirstenbosch Plant Fair: Growing Indigenous and Cultivating Community

Article and photos by Zoë Poulsen

Last week the Kirstenbosch Branch of the Botanical Society held their much anticipated plant fair, loved by all and one of the biggest events in the BotSoc calendar. More than 11,000 indigenous plants went on sale with horticultural advice from experts from Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Karoo Desert Botanical Gardens, CapeNature, the SANBI/BotSoc volunteer programme and more. Around 3,200 members of Cape Town’s plant community arrived for this popular event, with 90% of stock selling out on the first day. By Sunday more than 10,000 plants had been sold including 1730 Proteaceae and 650 Ericaceae plants. A total of 260 BotSoc members volunteered to make the plant fair happen. For the Kirstenbosch Branch volunteers, committee and staff involved, we offer a huge thank-you for your time, hard work and effort, it couldn’t be done without you!

In addition to this botanical bonanza, the event also served as an expo for various organisations. Experts from the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) were there to introduce would-be citizen scientists to their work, explaining how anyone can contribute to threatened species conservation. The Calitzdorp Succulent Society answered questions about their annual festival and Soil for Life were raising awareness with some lovely winter vegetable seedlings on sale. The Candide SA team were also ready to answer questions about their incredible horticultural app designed to share knowledge through an online gardening community. I am sure all who visited their stand will look forward to growing their free kohlrabi seeds.

This year’s theme was ‘Amazing Aromatics’, celebrating the many South African plants that enrich our natural vegetation and our gardens by smelling as good as they look. The most well-known of these are the Buchus from the Rutaceae or Citrus family that form an integral part of South Africa’s fynbos. Agathosma crenulata and Agathosma betulina have many traditional medicinal uses. The leaves can be used to make a tea or steeped in vinegar or brandy and have been used in the treatment of stomach complaints, kidney and bladder ailments. They make great garden plants too. Members of the genus Pelargonium were also on sale. Different species of this tough and drought tolerant genus may smell of lemon, mint and rose. Many have edible flowers and leaves and can be used as a food flavouring or in potpourri. Branch volunteers had a stall at the fair dedicated to selling handmade potpourri, further demonstrating the versatility of our indigenous flora.

The Kirstenbosch Plant Fair has always acted as a one-stop-shop for enthusiasts of growing South Africa’s extraordinary and biodiverse flora, paired with expert advice accessible to everyone from beginner to the most knowledgeable of gardeners. When gardening in the water scarce Western Cape it makes complete sense to grow indigenous drought tolerant plants adapted to our climate and soils in a world class range of sizes, colours, shapes and scents. With expanding urban development and agriculture, our gardens become all the more important as havens for wildlife. Those Red Hot Pokers, Aloes and Cape Honeysuckle sold at the plant fair will grow to provide food for spectacular sunbirds, always wonderful guests to have visiting. Threatened species such as the Extinct in the Wild Erica verticillata may also find a corner in your garden within its former range.

As well as raising funds for the Kirstenbosch Branch, the Plant Fair also encourages a sense of community among a wide spectrum of people. It inspires people to plant, garden and enjoy nature in any green space, no matter how large or small. Whether you have a tiny balcony, access to a patch of sand or a larger space, it can become a garden. Those who volunteer their time at the Kirstenbosch Plant Fair play a vital role in encouraging others to start greening their own spaces for nature. The satisfaction from planting and growing brings joy and a wonderful social space to enrich the lives of all who get involved. Everyone brings home good memories, and look forward to doing it all again for the plant fair next year.

Reporting Back on the 2019 National AGM

On 12 February the Botanical Society held its national Annual General Meeting at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens with the meeting attended by more than 250 members. The AGM was held early to elect a new council following on from the Interim Council elected on 17 August 2018. The financial statements from 2016, 2017 and 2018 were approved as well as the appointment of Ms. Annelie Lucas as auditor.

The following Council members were elected: Chairman: Marinda Nel; Treasurer: Tony Storey; Councillors: Dave Henry, Kevin McCann, Bongani Mnisi, Sershen Naidoo, Hedwig Slabig, Johann van den Berg, Toni Xaba

The Chairperson’s Report was first presented by Marinda Nel, who opened by noting that “Achievements are a collaborative effort,”. The interim council has achieved a great deal during its time in office and all outgoing interim council members and advisors were thanked for their support, effort and hard work during this intense time for the Society. A list of those acknowledged is presented in the full report to be published in the March Issue of Veld and Flora. Dr Bruce McKenzie has been appointed caretaker of the Society until a new General Manager can be appointed.

Above: Bruce Mckenzie presents an update on BotSoc’s ongoing conservation and environmental education projects. Photo: Zoë Poulsen

Bruce McKenzie presented a report on BotSoc’s ongoing projects. All of these are undertaken within the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, for which the Society is an active partner. One of the longest running of these is the CREW Programme (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) for which trained citizen scientists collect data and monitor rare and threatened flora. BotSoc is also active in stewardship, through one staff member based in KZN who through working with the KZN Coastal Branch, CREW and other partners works to identify sites for stewardship, putting agreements in place while working closely with landowners.

Above: Students supported as part of the BotSoc-CPUT partnership in the field. Photo supplied by CPUT.

the Botanical Society also works in collaboration with the Conservation Department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to support under-resourced students to further their studies through funding the practical component of the course and provision of learning resources. BotSoc, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs and other partners, runs several initiatives to conserve highly threatened Cycads. Various educational resources have been produced as part of this project in line with the National Curriculum.

Above: Outgoing Treasurer Brian Christie presents the Treasurer’s report at the national AGM. Photo: Zoë Poulsen

Outgoing Treasurer Brian Christie was thanked for his hard work over the last few months. Brian Christie first provided assurances that no evidence was found to substantiate any suggestions of fraud or financial misappropriation. BotSoc’s non-current assets and reserves are healthy, with R35.3 million in net assets. It was recommended that the incoming council should invest some of this capital into projects and assets that carry forward the Botanical Society’s objectives. Donations received by BotSoc totalled just under R4 million in 2018 and donations made by the society were about R2.3 million. The main recipient of donations has been our partner SANBI. This includes 10% of membership fee income payable to SANBI in terms of the memorandum of understanding between BotSoc and SANBI under which SANBI provides free access to its gardens for members. A large part of donations relate to the CREW programme.

Above: Working hard collecting data for the CREW programme. Photo: Petra Broddle.

Contracts and job descriptions for all BotSoc staff are being reviewed in consultation with each individual. We congratulate Ms Simone van Rooyen on her promotion to office manager. A standing committee to progress practical and broad-based transformation is a priority. Supported by the planned new membership categories, this will focus on growing membership across all demographics, enhancing BotSoc’s relevance among young botanical enthusiasts and building relationships with other entities with similar or complementary objectives.

Above: Back issues of Veld & Flora.

BotSoc has significant media assets and brand value. A workshop was held to consider a discussion document prepared by Mr Mike Martin, past CEO of Jacana Publishers, that proposed a cohesive strategy for publications and bookshops. An integrated communication and promotion strategy is urgently needed. The creation of a new BotSoc website is well underway. Veld & Flora has a huge role to play in creating a sense of wonder about the beautiful world that we are lucky to inhabit. We are grateful to Ms Patricia McCracken who has agreed to edit the March and June issues of Veld & Florauntil a more permanent appointment can be made. It is our aim to allow members to choose to receive a hard copy and/or an electronic version.

Above: Environmental education programme at Durban Botanical Garden funded by the Botanical Education Trust. Photo supplied by the Botanical Education Trust.

BotSoc was established more than a century ago and we have been joined by many conservation organisations in responding to risks and threats to our environment. BotSoc aspires to be an umbrella platform for all agencies that support our mission. We are already recognised internationally as the custodian of our exceptionally rich botanical heritage. This platform will be a place where such people or agencies will find authoritative direction – a place where we all find a role to play.

Life on the Edge: Saving the Albertina Sisulu Orchid from Extinction

Written by Zoë Poulsen, Photos: Andrew Hankey

One in five of the world’s plants are at risk of extinction, according to the State of the World’s Plants report published by experts at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. We are more than aware of the ongoing threats to our tigers, our rhinos and the other charismatic mammals. But quietly under our feet and in our backyards, often unbeknown to us, many other species are also making their final journey towards extinction, to be known only to future generations from photographs and herbarium specimens.

Top & Above: The beautiful Albertinia Sisulu Orchid (Brachycorithis conica subsp. transvaalensis)

Rainforest giants may come crashing to the ground or go up in smoke, fuelled by the unrelenting demand for making a quick buck from timber or to become monocultures for palm oil. Other species may fall victim to transformation of ecosystems by the scourge of alien invasive plants or quietly disappear underneath another shopping mall, another block of luxury apartments or that perfect house by the sea.

Above: One of the iconic Black (Verraux) Eagles of Roodekraans that also call the Sugarbush Ridges home.

As this habitat loss has happened, scientists and conservationists have risen to the challenge in a desperate battle to come up with increasingly innovative ways to save our biodiversity. Plant species under threat? No worries, we can store it in a seed bank. Habitat under threat? No problem, we can make an offset. Ploughing up critically endangered biodiversity for barley? No problem, we can restore it later…. It is vital that with the plethora of tools now at conservationists’ fingertips we do not become complacent. There is no better alternative in conserving ecosystems and their biodiversity than conserving habitats, making sure they are not destroyed. We cannot keep our species in perpetuity ‘in the zoo’ with no home to return to.

Above: The Critically Endangered habitat of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid at Sugarbush Ridges.

The home of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid is under threat, a home where the iconic Verreaux’s eagles of Roodekraans soar, found adjacent to South Africa’s Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens. Plans to make Sugarbush Ridges an urban conservation area are at risk and the City of Mogale Municipality have instead approved plans for high density housing.

The Albertina Sisulu Orchid (Brachycorithis conica subsp. transvaalensis) was once known from several localities across Gauteng and Mpumalanga. However, urban development has all but wiped out the majority of habitat for this species and it was last seen in 1956. That was until 2007 when a population of c.130 plants was discovered growing above Walter Sisulu NBG, to date the only viable remaining habitat for this species. The Albertina Sisulu Orchid is thus listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the Red List of South African Plants.

Above: Local High School and Proteadal Conservation Association field trip to Sugarbush Ridges, with demonstration of erosion control.

Brachycorithis conica subsp. transvaalensis was named after anti-apartheid activist Albertina Sisulu (also known as Ma Sisulu) in this her centenary year by the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The species was first discovered in 1918, the same year that Albertinia Sisulu was born in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. In 1955 Albertina Sisulu joined the ANC Women’s League and participated in launching the Freedom Charter, the same year that the orchid was named by Kew botanist V.H. Summerheyes. In 1956 Albertina Sisulu marched alongside Helen Joseph and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn with 20,000 other women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the same year the orchid was last seen in Gauteng before its rediscovery above Walter Sisulu NBG in 2007. It could not be more fitting that Brachycorithis conica subsp. transvaalensis now be known as the Albertina Sisulu Orchid.

Top & Above: Beautiful butterflies of Sugarbush Ridges.

A team of conservation heroes have now come together to save the home of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid at Sugarbush Ridges, in an effort to bring about conservation of this unique and precious habitat in perpetuity. The Sugarbush Ridges Coalition comprises the Botanical Society of South Africa, one of South Africa’s oldest conservation nonprofits, local community group Proteadal Conservation Association, nonprofit Wild Orchids of South Africa, the Roodekraans Black Eagle Project and Walter Sisulu NBG.

Top: Gladiolus permeabilis, Above: Albertina Sisulu Orchid

The Sugarbush Ridges Coalition team are working towards a vision of conserving the area and home of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid in perpetuity as an urban conservation area. The case concerning the development proposals is imminently due to be heard in the High Court of Gauteng. The Coalition is fundraising for vital conservation management interventions to help achieve conservation goals. This work includes training rangers, fencing, environmental education and clearance of alien invasive plants in addition to fighting unsustainable developments that threaten the integrity of the site. Without this essential work the Albertinia Sisulu Orchid may be lost forever, with the other species that call this place home also losing one more habitat stronghold.

Above: Close up of the exquisite blooms of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid.

Help us save the home of the Albertina Sisulu Orchid by donating to the vital conservation efforts of the Sugarbush Ridges Coalition. More details on how you can help can be found here:

We thank you for your support.

Six ways to give back to the environment this Mandela Day and beyond

Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place. Each year on the 18th July we look back on what has been done,and forward to what will be done. This year we celebrate 100 years since Nelson Mandela’s birth. All are encouraged to contribute 67 minutes of public service. One minute is given for each year of Mandela’s 67 years of public service,starting in 1942 when he first started to campaign for the human rights of all South Africans.

“I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses. We must never forget that it is our duty to protect this environment”. Nelson Mandela

What are you going to do for your 67 minutes of service? Not sure where to start? Here we offer up some suggestions on how you may want to get involved in serving your community and giving back to your environment.



Litter: The bane of the life of any environmentalist. We are all far too accustomed to the convenience of packaged foods and other goods. Once that packaging has served its useful purpose in life it usually either ends up in landfill or often becomes environmental pollution. For starters, litter is unsightly and an eyesore. Nobody wants to see it polluting their local nature reserves or national parks. Far worse are its impacts on public health, wildlife and watercourses. Often it will end up finding its way into the sea, impacting on marine life too.

The good news here is that here you can make a difference. For Mandela Day there are many organised litter clearing events happening around the country,to the benefit of our communities, rivers, mountains, nature reserves, national parks and wildlife. Many community groups also have regular cleaning events to clear litter pollution in our wetlands, waterways and on our beaches. Check out social media platforms for more information on events happening around the country and consider lending a hand. Conservation and environmental action starts at home so find out what is going on in your area or start your own initiatives.



So what is all this talk of ‘aliens’ that has been in the media before and during the current drought? One may be confused into thinking we are referring to extra-terrestrial life here. In fact,alien invasive vegetation comprises plants that have been introduced from overseas that have become invasive in our own ecosystems,outcompeting our local indigenous flora,choking our river systems,often becoming a fire hazard and guzzling far too much precious water that could be filling our dams. There is no doubt,they need to go.

Many of our local community groups are taking action here, so check out their social media platforms to find out where and when and get involved.



With the current drought and impacts of a changing climate making their presence known, now is a more important time than any for us to realise that growing indigenous and gardening waterwise is a necessity rather than a choice. Growing a water guzzling European style garden with swimming pools,sweeping lawns,roses and hydrangeas needs to be a thing of the past in our water scarce country. Perhaps a garden in your local community is looking dead and sad following several dry summers and needs cheering up?

If there is a communal outdoor space you know that needs some love,why not donate some indigenous plants and work with and support the owners in making them grow. Not only will it benefit the people that use it but also the local wildlife too. 



Do you use a green space in your community regularly for recreation? Chances are your local park or nature reserve will have a Friends group. Friends groups are a strong force for community conservation and a place to volunteer your time and skills to the benefit of your local environment.

They liase with the main management authority for the space and might get involved in alien clearing,litter picking, environmental education, restoration work, conservation planning, organising talks and walks and much more. Your membership fee will go to helping support their work in conserving and making that green space that you use the place it is. Why not consider volunteering too? Get involved, attend events and consider serving on their committees for a rewarding way to give back to your community.


Raising awareness about the importance of conserving and protecting our environment is a key way to inspire others to get involved. So don’t keep quiet about your efforts, share them with your friends and networks on your social media platforms. Our partners at WESSA (Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa) are inviting you to join the #WESSAChallenge and pledge your 67 minutes for a better environment, then post a pic of you,your family and friends doing your bit for the environment this July. 


Feeling too pushed for time to squeeze in any volunteering? Why not consider making a donation to a charity of your choice to support their vital work?

At the end of it all, don’t forget that every day should be a Mandela Day. Make time to serve your community and help protect and conserve your local environment. Community conservation is a critical force and anyone can make a difference.

MySchool Vote4Charity Challenge

The countdown has started! You have just one day left to join the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet #Vote4Charity challenge. Cast your vote for the Botanical Society of South Africa and we get to win a share of R1 million. For every vote submitted we receive a R5 donation and for every additional referral from simply sharing to social we receive a further R5 donation. All at no cost to you – Support your favourite charity for free! Participants will also be entered into a prize draw and stand a chance to win R5000. Read on to find out more about our work and how to cast your vote.

Branching Out

The Botanical Society, run by our team from Head Office at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, has sixteen branches across the country. These are mostly run by dedicated volunteers and allows you to get involved with your BotSoc, wherever you are in the country. Our branches run a variety of activities, including talks, hikes, environmental education, alien hacking and much more, allowing you to make a difference to conservation and awareness about South Africa’s megadiverse flora where you live. Some of our branches are based at National Botanical Gardens, where their activities are enhanced and enriched by collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

 Communicating the Conservation Message

In line with South Africa’s National Strategy for Plant Conservation, we place a strong focus on communicating the conservation message. We educate and raise awareness through our publications, including our quarterly journal ‘Veld & Flora’, our online magazine ‘Botanical’, our blog and social platforms. We are also active in environmental education, both through our branches and the Botanical Education Trust. We make possible a range of publications including our range of regional botanical field guides, essential for those getting to grips with our vast and unique flora. Our newest resource ‘Learning About Cycads’ helps learners understand this imperilled and fascinating plant group through a series of activities tailored to the National Curriculum.

Building Capacity in the Conservation Sector


We recently signed a new memorandum of agreement with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Nature Conservation Diploma Programme. This marks the continuation of our collaboration for a further three years. Through funding from BotSoc, students undertaking the course are funded through the completion of a practical training programme. This has meant that all students could complete this part of the course and those who could not otherwise afford to participate were not excluded.

BotSoc has also facilitated student visits to Kirstenbosch NBG and the SANBI herbarium. Participating students said that BotSoc was “investing in their future” in a way that far better prepared them for future work in the conservation sector. Comments Professor Joseph Kioko (Programme Director) “BotSoc is investing in sustainable, tangible partnerships. It does not come better than this….”. BotSoc would like to thank the donors who have so generously supported this programme. We couldn’t do it without you!

Conserving Threatened Species

Through our partners the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW), we work to conserve and monitor our imperilled flora around the country. We contribute funding that allows the employment of CREW interns, thus providing career development opportunities and additional capacity to this world class citizen science-based conservation programme. Some of our former interns have gone on to become leading scientists in our conservation community. We would like to thank all of our hardworking CREW volunteers for their invaluable contributions.

How to Vote for Us

To vote for the Botanical Society of South Africa, simply visit, select ‘The Botanical Society’ from the searchable drop down list and enter your MySchool or Woolies card number to cast your vote. No MySchool card? No problem! You can still vote after applying online to receive your free card at the same time. We thank you for your support!