Perfect Pincushions: Introducing the genus Leucospermum

Spring has well and truly sprung in the Cape Floristic Region. After the winter rains the fynbos has come to life, alive with a diversity of stunning blooms and full of busy pollinators. Some of the most spectacular of these are known as the ‘Pincushions’ with such strange looking flowers that one might be forgiven for thinking they have come from outer space.

Leucospermum muirii (Albertinia Pincushion)

These are the Leucospermums, which are part of the Proteaceae, one of the three key families that typify South Africa’s famous fynbos vegetation. The blooms of Leucospermums are recognised by their unusually long, stout and colourful styles that are the ‘pins’ of the pincushion. Unlike their other Proteaceae relatives, Leucospermums have small inconspicuous bracts around the flowerheads and tooth shaped margins at the end of the leaves.

Leucospermum cordifolium (Orange Pincushion)

Members of the genus range in size from huge shrubs to low growing prostrate species that grow along the ground. The larger more upright species are pollinated by sugarbirds and sunbirds whereas the more prostrate ones are pollinated by rodents. After seeds are set they are often predated by rodents. Those that survive are collected by ants, attracted to a fleshy appendage on the seed. The ants carry the seed underground where they are safe from predation. There they will stay until the next fire moves through the fynbos, allowing the seeds to germinate and the next generation of Leucospermums to grow.

Leucospermum harpagonatum (McGregor Pincushion)

The genus Leucospermum has a total of 48 species, the majority of which are found only in the Cape Floristic Region. There are however two species (L. rodentumand  L. praemorsum) with a range extending north into Namaqualand, two species (L. gerrardii and L. innovans) in Kwa-Zulu Natal and one (L. saxosum) in Mpumalanga northwards into Zimbabwe. The most important centre of diversity for the Leucospermum genus is the Agulhas Plain, where there are a total of 30 species occurring.

Leucospermum heterophyllum (Trident Pincushion)

The plant collections at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens showcase a rich diversity of different members of the genus, many of which are flowering now for visitors to enjoy. Perhaps the most well-known of these is Leucospermum cordifolium, with their large and spectacular orange blooms. This species is a popular and easily cultivated garden plant that is used in the cut flower industry all over the world.

Leucospermum oleifolium (Overberg Pincushion)

Leucospermum fulgens, easily recognised with its large fiery red and orange blooms, comes from limestone fynbos in the eastern Overberg. Sadly as a result of inappropriate fire management and loss of habitat to alien invasive plants, it is Critically Endangered in the wild. Kirstenbosch NBG provides this species and many others with a safe home should the worst happen to its wild population.

Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron subsp. hypophyllocarpodendron

There are several members of the genus that have flowers that change colour almost like chameleons as the blooms age. Leucospermum oleifoliumflowerheads are initially yellow, turning a rich orange and then intense crimson red as the flowers age. Leucospermum heterophyllum has flowers that are lime green after they open, changing to a deep wine red over time. Often flowers of different colours are present on the same plant as the flowering season progresses.

Leucospermum heterophyllum (Trident Pincushion)

Why not come and visit Kirstenbosch and see for yourself? Entry to all South Africa’s National Botanical Gardens is free for BotSoc members. The Kirstenbosch Nursery also has a great selection of Leucospermums so garden waterwise and indigenous and consider giving a home to one of these beautiful plants.

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Wildflower Wonders: Where to find the best blommetjies this Spring

This winter, after three long and dry years in succession, the rain came. The drought’s impact has been pervasive, affecting the economy, agriculture, tourism and much more. Above average rainfall this June has provided some respite and improved dam levels, but we are far from out of the woods yet.

However, good winter rains are making it increasingly likely that we will have some wonderful displays of wildflowers this spring. Already there are beautiful carpets of Oxalis giving their winter display along our road verges. We have hand-picked for you a selection of our favourite places to go and experience the Cape’s world famous wildflower displays. All of these stunning places are within five hours drive of Cape Town, easily accessible on a weekend for those of you with limited time available.

NAMAQUALAND 

Nieuwoudtville

The small town of Nieuwoudtville lies at the top of the Bokkeveld Escarpment, five hours drive north along the N7 from Cape Town. It is not without reason that it is known as the ‘Bulb Capital of the World’. The town is home to Hantam National Botanical Gardens (NBG) one of South Africa’s newest NBGs, run by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Hantam NBG is 6000 Ha in size encompassing Nieuwoudtville Shale Renosterveld, Nieuwoudtville-Roggeveld Dolerite Renosterveld and Hantam Succulent Karoo.

This unique range of untransformed habitats makes this the place to see many of the rare and special plant species known from the Bokkeveld Escarpment. The garden has nine different hiking trails that allow those of differing levels of fitness to explore as they please. Members of the Botanical Society enjoy free entrance to this and all of South Africa’s NBGs. Additional tourist information for the area can be found at www.nieuwoudtville.com

WEST COAST

West Coast National Park

West Coast National Park lies on the coast between the small towns of Yzerfontein and Langebaan just 1.5 hours drive north of Cape Town. The park is a mix of Strandveld and Hopefield Sand Plain Fynbos.  During August and September visitors to the park are rewarded by the most spectacular displays of flowers in the Seeberg and Postberg sections of the Park. For the more energetic the two day overnight Postberg hiking trail can be done, with an overnight stop (bring your own tents) at Plankiesbaai. Bookings and tariff information can be obtained from Geelbek Information Centre on 022 707 9902. Entrance to the park is R76 for South African Nationals and residents (with ID) and free for Wildcard Holders.

Tienie Versfeld Nature Reserve

Tienie Versfeld Nature Reserve is 20 Ha in size and found just outside the Swartland town of Darling, an hour north of Cape Town. The reserve was formerly part of a farm that was donated to the Botanical Society by Marthinus Versfeld. Marthinus’s sister Muriel was one of the founder members of the Darling Wildflower Society. The reserve is open all year round, but the most spectacular blooms can be seen during the spring season from August to September. Entrance to the reserve is free.

Waylands Farm Wildflower Reserve

Also near the beautiful town of Darling is the fantastic Waylands Farm Wildflower Reserve. The reserve was founded by Fredrick Duckett in the early 1900s and is home to more than 300 different plant species, many of which are geophytes. The reserve forms an integral part of the farm and is grazed from late November to the end of April each year. The spring flower season reaches its peak from the end of August to early September.

CEDERBERG 

Ramskop Wildflower Garden

Three hours drive north of Cape Town on the N7 is the small town of Clanwilliam, which lies at the foot of the Cederberg Mountain chain. Adjacent to the municipal campsite on the banks of the Clanwilliam Dam is the beautiful Ramskop Wildflower Garden. There are more than 300 species of different wildflowers to be seen, and spectacular views down over the dam and up to the Cederberg mountains beyond. Entry is R25 and the gardens are open until 4:30pm during August and September. (Info: 027 482 8000).

Biedouw Valley

 

The Biedouw Valley is one of the Cederberg’s hidden wildflower gems. It can be reached either via Calvinia or the Pakhuis Pass from Clanwilliam. The Biedouw River is one of the tributaries of the Doring River. The valley is bounded by the Biedouw Mountains to the north and the Tra Tra Mountains to the south. The name ‘Biedouw’ refers to the common plant name ‘Bietou’, although there are several plants that go by this name so it is not clear to what species the name originally refers. In spring local farmers restrict livestock grazing in the area to further enhance the stunning wildflower displays. 

CAPE TOWN  

Rondebosch Common

 

Rondebosch Common lies at the heart of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs. This 40 Ha site is of international conservation importance, being one of the last fragments of Critically Endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, a highly biodiverse vegetation type that only occurs in the greater Cape Town area. It is home to around 250 plant species.

The site is under the custodianship of City Parks and their work is supported by the Friends of Rondebosch Common, affiliated with the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA). Each spring the Friends run a series of walks lead by dedicated volunteers to see the spring flowers on the Common. All are welcome and becoming a Friend is encouraged to support the valuable conservation work taking place. More information can be found on the Friends’ Facebook group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Friends.of.Rondebosch.Common/

 

#SecretSeason: Winter at Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens

As winter arrives at the Cape, temperatures fall and the winter rain starts it can be tempting to spend all your time tucked up inside away from the cold. Winter is the time to make the most of those beautiful sunny days in between the rain, perfect for getting out and about without the summer heat. Now is the time to experience the beauty that is winter in this part of the world.

Above: The rugged and scenic beauty of the Du Toits Kloof Pass between Paarl and Worcester on the N1.

Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens (NBG) is located next to the small town of Worcester, an easy 1.5 hour drive from Cape Town and closer still for those based in the Winelands. It is a scenic drive along one of the most beautiful sections of the N1, travelling through the rugged mountains of the Du Toitskloof Pass. At this time of year huge waterfalls can be seen tumbling down rock walls from high above. While travelling through the pass from the Cape Town side, one can see the vegetation change from the Mediterranean climate fynbos to the more arid climate adapted Worcester Robertson Karoo.

Top: Aloidendron ramosissimum Above: Ruschia maxima

Karoo Desert NBG showcases the rich diversity of unique and extraordinary flora that come from the more arid parts of South Africa, including the Richtersveld, Succulent Karoo and Klein Karoo. The garden is 154 hectares in size, of which 11 hectares are cultivated and the remainder is natural vegetation. There are two hiking trails that allow visitors to explore the wider landscape beyond the more formally cultivated areas of the garden.

Above: Flowers and open seed capsule of Cheridopsis pillansii

The shorter Shale Trail is around 1km in length with the main winter highlight being the orange and yellow flashes of colour in the veld from flowering Aloe microstigma. The Grysbokkie Trail is 3.4 km long and will take visitors steeply up into a kloof above the gardens and ascends from the Worcester Robertson Karoo vegetation up into the Breede Valley Renosterveld above. Those who make the climb are richly rewarded by the views from the top of Beacon Hill (526m) over Worcester and the surrounding landscape.

Above: Pelargonium echinatum

Winter is a time when many plant species from the arid and semi-arid vegetation types that are represented at Karoo Desert NBG come into bloom. This is particularly true of the huge variety of different Aloes that are grown here. The huge and striking quiver trees (Aloidendron dichotomum, Aloidendron ramossissimum and Aloidendron pillansii) produce many bright yellow inflorescences between June and August that are often visited for nectar by sugarbirds and sunbirds. The blooms are pollinated by ants and bees.

Above: Euphorbia dregeana

Also worth looking out for is the Giant Mountain Vygie (Ruschia maxima) with its delicate pink flowers. This plant blooms most of the year and makes a great waterwise addition to arid and semi-arid gardens. In the higher reaches of the garden the pale yellow blooms of Cheridopsis pillansii can be seen in contrast to the silver leaves of this plant. This plant is one of several species named after botanist Neville Pillans (1884-1964), succulent enthusiast and eminent collector of Stapeliads. Pillans was formerly a member of staff at the Bolus Herbarium at the University of Cape Town.

Above: Nymania capensis 

Visitors to the garden are often intrigued by the strange shaped pink seed heads of the Chinese Lantern Tree (Nymania capensis). These allow the seeds to be wind transported away from the parent plant, where they can be blown into the shelter of a nurse plant, allowing germination of seeds once rain has arrived and conditions for growth are suitable.

Top: Aloiampelos tenuior Above: Euphorbia caurulescens

Here we offer just a taster of what this extraordinary garden has to offer during these winter months of colour. As with all our National Botanical Gardens, visitors to Karoo Desert NBG enjoy free entrance throughout the year. Make the most of your membership and enjoy exploring South Africa’s rich plant diversity as showcased in our stunning gardens.

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 http://myschool.co.za/vote4charity, 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!

Growing the Future: An Introduction to the Botanical Education Trust

Written by Charles and Julia Botha

Why is the Botanical Education Trust so important?

South Africa is home to one of the richest floras on earth. It has more than 10% of the world’s flowering plant species and is the only country that has a whole plant kingdom that falls entirely within its borders. The Cape Floral Kingdom has more than 20% of the African continent’s plant species, despite covering less than 0.5% of its total land area. The Cape Peninsula alone has more plant species than the whole of the United Kingdom. However, many South African plant species are under threat. Populations of threatened species are lost underneath housing development from a rapidly growing human population. They are outcompeted by alien invasive plants or collected en mass for the medicinal plant trade.

What is the Botanical Education Trust?

The Botanical Education Trust was founded to educate people about the importance of South Africa’s diverse flora and biodiversity in view of these challenges. The organisation operates under the auspices of the Botanical Society of South Africa. It is fully registered as a Trust and is audited annually. In addition, it has been approved as a PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) and has been granted exemption from donations tax and estate duty by SARS. This includes a Section 18A exemption certificate which permits any donor to treat donations to the Trust as a tax deductible expense.

Neil Gerber, a past president of the Society of Chartered Accountants, is the Honorary Treasurer of the Trust and Professor Julia Botha is the Secretary. Some of the country’s leading botanists serve as Trustees on the Botanical Education Trust’s Board, namely Professor Braam Van Wyk, Professor of Plant Science at the University of Pretoria, Dr Neil Crouch from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Dr Hugh Glen.  Zaitoon Rabaney, Executive Director of the Botanical Society of South Africa and horticulturalist Chris Dalzell also serve as Trustees. The Trust is chaired by Charles Botha, a semi-retired businessman.

What does it do?

The objectives of the Botanical Education Trust are:

  1. To conserve and promote the indigenous flora of South Africa.
  2. To advance education and research in the field of our indigenous flora.
  3. To fund literature pertaining to indigenous flora and factors that influence it.

What projects has the Trust funded?  

Last year the Botanical Education Trust celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Since it was founded the Trust has awarded grants to the value of more than R865,000. One of the projects supported was an environmental education programme based at the National Botanical Gardens which encouraged learners to make informed environmental decisions and educated them about conservation. The Botanical Education Trust has also funded taxonomic studies, threatened and data deficient species research and research on biological control of alien invasive plants. In addition, funding has also been contributed towards the publication of important botanical literature.

In 2017 the Trust received 22 applications, five of which were selected for funding, receiving a total of R113,000. Sharon Louw (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) received an award to study the effects of fire on the Common Sugarbush Protea caffra. Findings from this research will be used to inform best management practice for the Protea Savanna system, which will ultimately benefit the flora as a whole. Dr Francis Siebert, of North-West University, received funding for her project on different forb species in semi-arid savanna. In this ecosystem forbs represent a vital food source for a variety of different insects including butterflies.

The Mistbelt Forests of Kwa-Zulu Natal have long been exploited and only an estimated six patches of primary forest are now left.  Those which remain are now also highly threatened by alien invasive plants. Dr Jolene Fisher from the University of the Witwatersrand has received funding to monitor the extent, diversity and quality of these forests. Dr Marina Koekemoer from SANBI works to help people identify South Africa’s fascinating and diverse flora. A grant has been made towards her publication of the Complete Plant Families of southern Africa. Natasha Visser, from the University of Johannesburg, also received funding to carry out a taxonomic study of the southern African genus Thesium. This genus has been identified as a high priority for taxonomic revision. This work is of vital importance in advancing knowledge about South Africa’s unique and highly biodiverse flora.

The Botanical Education Trust would like to thank all donors who have made these grants possible. We thank you for your support.

How can you help?

Donations, no matter how small, will serve conservation in perpetuity because only interest on capital is used and all donations are capitalised. Even if contributions are not immediate, legacies left behind will be to the permanent benefit of our indigenous flora.

Payments can be made to:

Botanical Society of South Africa – Durban Coastal Branch

Nedbank, Durban Branch Code – 135226

Account Number – 1352029901

Please state clearly on all donations that it is for the Botanical Education Trust and fax the deposit slip to 086 651 8969 or email to botsoc-kzn@mweb.co.za. Payments can also be made via the donate button on the KZN Coastal Branch website.

BotSoc Launches ‘Learning About Cycads’

Written by Zoë Poulsen

Cycads are one of the oldest surviving plant groups on the planet. They have been around for more than 350 million years, surviving multiple mass extinctions and a plethora of environmental changes. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Today they are sadly one the world’s most threatened plant groups. Of South Africa’s 38 cycad species (37 species of Encephalartos and one Stangeria species), three are now Extinct in the Wild, twelve are now Critically Endangered, four are Endangered, nine are Vulnerable and seven are Near Threatened on the Red List of South African plants. The greatest threat is illegal poaching and collection from the wild to supply the global horticultural trade.

Top: Encephartos princeps (Vulnerable) Above: Encephalartos woodii (Extinct in the wild, only known from male clones).

On 12th March, the Botanical Society launched their new educational resource ‘Learning About Cycads: A Guide to Environmental Activities’. This beautiful publication was produced in collaboration with the Western Cape Primary Schools Programme and funded by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust. The book encourages learners to understand the age of Cycads, their life cycle and biology as well as conceptualising Cycads as threatened species that need to be conserved in perpetuity. This new publication is in line with BotSoc’s mandate through Target 14 of the National Strategy of Plant Conservation, which speaks to “The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation to be incorporated into communication, education and public awareness programmes”.

Top: Dr Farieda Khan, President of the Botanical Society introduces the event. Above: Debbie Schafer, Minister of Education for the Western Cape was the keynote speaker.

The launch event was held at Moyo’s at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Dr Farieda Khan, President of the Botanical Society made the official welcome and opened the event. Comments Dr Khan: “As one of the oldest civil society organisations in South Africa, and certainly one of the oldest if not the oldest environmental organisation, the Botanical Society is keen to be part of the process of teaching the next generation of young people to play an important role in protecting the natural environment…and our indigenous flora in particular”.

The keynote address was delivered by Debbie Schafer, Minister of Education in the Western Cape. Debbie Schafer comments: “We need to educate our learners regarding their importance, and to protect and conserve Cycads and other plants…Environmental education in schools is therefore vitally important. Environmental education also raises awareness amongst learners about the importance of protecting the environment as well as the actions they can take to improve and to save it for future generations”.

Top: Dr John Donaldson, Chief Director of Applied Biodiversity Research at SANBI. Above: Andrew Stuart-Recking, Representative from Nedbank Private Wealth speaks on behalf of the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust.

Dr John Donaldson, Chief Director of Applied Biodiversity Research at SANBI, provided an overview of the plight of Cycads, biodiversity management and action plan and how we all have a role to play in their conservation. He highlights that according to climate change research, Cycads have been shown to response positively to elevated Carbon Dioxide levels. Sadly, however, research through repeat photography has shown that only 16% of Cycads recorded from historical photos in the 1940s are still present today, highlighting drastic population decline through poaching. Dr Donaldson then goes on to highlight what we are doing to conserve this imperilled plant group: This includes a national strategy for Cycad conservation and biodiversity action plans for all twelve Critically Endangered Cycads.

Top: Dr Zorina Dharsey, Executive Director of the Primary Schools Programme. Above: Carmel Mbizo, SANBI Head of Branch Biodiversity Science.

Dr Zorina Dharsey, Executive Director of the Primary Schools Programme is welcomed. The organisation provides teacher training and support across a range of fields from social science to environmental education. Comments Dr Dharsey: “Teaching and learning needs to be practical, it needs to be hands on and actively involve children integrated across sciences”. This is done through accessing the knowledge of and building partnerships with leading specialists in their fields, including a new partnership with BotSoc. “Not one species is more important than another, we are all connected…Each plant and animal species is important. So we come full circle in the Cycad book”.

In closing Carmel Mbizo, SANBI Head of Branch Biodiversity Science and Policy advice, on behalf of SANBI CEO delivers the vote of thanks. BotSoc would like to thank all collaborators, partners and funders involved in making this project possible.

Conservationists of the future: Renewing the BotSoc – CPUT Partnership

Conservation is nothing without the conservationists. This career can take one from roles as diverse as fundraising and marketing for nonprofits to biodiversity monitoring of threatened species in the field. South Africa, as a megadiverse country, has more work than most to do than most and is a world leader in conservation practice and action. South Africa’s National Strategy for Plant Conservation Target 15 speaks to building capacity in best conserving the country’s flora. The Botanical Society of South Africa has embraced this need and is working hard on its implementation.

Above: Dr Rashieda Toefy and Professor Joseph Kioko speak on the official programme on behalf of CPUT

Last week a new memorandum of agreement was signed between the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s (CPUT) Nature Conservation National Diploma programme. This marks the continuation of this project for a further three years and serves to build on six years of highly successful collaboration, supporting many promising students as they complete their training to enter the biodiversity sector. They are the conservationists of the future.

Through funding from BotSoc, students undertaking the Nature Conservation National Diploma are funded through the completion of a practical training programme to complement the more theoretical components of the course. This has meant that all students on the National Diploma could complete the practical training component of the course and those from less wealthy backgrounds who could not otherwise afford to participate were not excluded. The training is facilitated by a highly knowledgeable team from the City of Cape Town and uses the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust’s Zeekovlei Camp. The week long practical course encompasses many valuable applied skills of use to students in the workplace. It includes everything from using dart guns for baboon management to alien clearing and GPS mapping.

Above: Students who have completed the programme offer their feedback.

In addition to this, as part of the partnership BotSoc has also facilitated student visits to the SANBI herbarium and Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens. Copies of BotSoc’s Quarterly Journal, Veld and Flora are also made available to the Nature Conservation students at CPUT as well as identification guides for their use on practicals and field trips.

As Professor Joseph Kioko, Programme Director for the course said: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating….”.  So, in this spirit the students attending the event spoke about their experiences participating in the programme and how it benefitted them. BotSoc’s funding of the programme was described by the students as “investing in their future”.  It was said that their participation in the programme and valuable practical experience gained made them far better prepared for entering their first jobs in the conservation field.

Above: (Left to right) Dr Farieda Khan (Head of BotSoc Council) Professor Fatoki (Dean of Science, CPUT) and Zaitoon Rabaney (Executive Director, BotSoc) speak about the programme.

Students also said that the provision of learning resources such as Veld and Flora helped them by providing assistance in completing course assignments, building plant identification skills and cultivating a deep passion and interest for the rich world of conservation. Professor Kioko also commented: “BotSoc is investing in sustainable, tangible partnerships. It does not come better than this…”. All the students who attended wished to thank the BotSoc for the opportunity to participate in the programme.

Above: Staff and students of CPUT and BotSoc following signing the partnership MOU

Following this BotSoc’s Executive Director Zaitoon Rabaney spoke on her thoughts about the importance of and success of the programme. She opened with a quote by Denzel Washington: “At the end of the day, it is not about what you have, or even what you have accomplished. It is about who you have lifted and who you made feel better. It is about giving back”. Zaitoon then goes on to explain: One of the main objectives of the BotSoc is to win the hearts and minds to inspire passion and knowledge about South Africa’s indigenous flora. BotSoc aims to achieve this through people, passion and partnerships. When those three things are there, anything is possible, and the CPUT-BotSoc collaboration stands testament to this.

BotSoc would like to thank the donors who have so generously supported this project. We couldn’t do it without you!