Do you realise just how special our backyard really is? Facts about The Cape Floral Kingdom

Written by Catherine Clulow

All too often we take for granted what’s right under our noses. Today we share some facts to remind us just how special our backyard really is. The facts shared in this blog are from SANBI Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, a wonder to visit to enjoy our amazing biodiversity and natural heritage.

So what is a Floral Kingdom? Floral Kingdoms are the largest natural units for flowering plants. Regions that share the same combination of plant families form part of the same floral kingdom. There are six Floral Kingdoms in the world: Holarctic, Neotropical, Palaeotropical, Australian, Cape and Antarctic.

What is so special about the Cape Floral Kingdom?

  • It is the smallest of all the Floral Kingdoms.
  • It is the only Floral Kingdom to fall completely inside the borders of a single country.
  • It occupies about 90,000 square kilometres: Only 0.04% of the surface area of the Earth.
  • It contains nearly 9,000 species of flowering plants: About 3% of Earth’s species.
  • Two out of three species in the Cape Floral Kingdom are endemic to this area, meaning they occur nowhere else on Earth. This is the highest level of endemism in the world.
  • The Cape Floral Kingdom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its unparalleled ecological diversity.

The Fynbos Biome is a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Fynbos is one of its main vegetation types.

What’s so fine about Fynbos?

  • Fynbos is the vegetation that is found growing naturally on the mountains and lowlands of South Africa’s Cape Floral Kingdom and is unique to the area.
  • The name comes from the Dutch ‘fijn’ and ‘bosch’ meaning fine bush, referring to the very small leaves and flowers of many of the species.
  • Fynbos constitutes 80% of the vegetation of the Cape Floristic Region/ Cape Floral Kingdom.
  • Fynbos is characterised by the presence of three main plant families: Restios, Proteas and Ericas, as well as seven other plant families that only occur in fynbos.
  • It’s amazingly diverse, and exceptionally rich in species, and occupies a relatively tiny area of land of similar size to Portugal and Malawi.
  • Over 7000 species occur in 41 000 km2, and 80% of them occur nowhere else on Earth.
  • The Cape Peninsula alone has 2 600 species, more than the total number of species in the British Isles, in an area smaller than London.
  • Comparing species diversity with other heathland communities in Australia and California, and with the rest of South Africa:

Cape Floristic Region/Cape Floral Kingdom: 94 species per 100 km2

Australia: 14 species per 100 km2

California: 12 species per 100 km2

The rest of South Africa: 8 species per 100 km2

Marvel in the Cape Floristic splendour, how can you not? Appreciate and safeguard our amazing biodiversity. We live in a truly special place and need to remember that and remind each other from time to time.

King Protea (Catherine Browne, Botanical Society of SA)
©Catherine Clulow

The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) is an NGO focusing on biodiversity conservation and awareness and environmental education and for over 103 years has been working with passionate partners and people to conserve the natural heritage and flora of Southern Africa. BotSoc’s mission is “ To win the hearts, minds, and material support of individuals and organisations, wherever they may be, for the conservation, cultivation, study and wise use of the indigenous flora and vegetation of southern Africa, for the benefit and sharing by all”. Find out more about BotSoc here and consider joining the BotSoc family.

Go out and learn about, appreciate and enjoy The Cape Floral Kingdom and be proud of it!

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Greening the future: Notes on a successful partnership between BotSoc & CPUT

Written by Joseph Kioko and Catherine Clulow

The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) signed a memorandum of agreement in 2014. Heading into the third year of this three year contract, the success stories are encouraging and the partnership will be continued for another three years. The purpose of this partnership was a pilot study for the BotSoc to support a tertiary educational institution and in particular their nature conservation students.

Students taking the National Diploma in Nature Conservation at CPUT undergo highly valuable hands-on training, thanks to funding from BotSoc. The training was facilitated by a highly knowledgeable team led by the City of Cape Town and held at the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust’s (CTEET) Zeekoevlei camp.

The one-week training camp is part of the curriculum of CPUT’s Nature Conservation Diploma, and is designed to integrate what the students have learnt in lectures and practicals with applied skills needed for work. By their nature, these skills can best be taught in situ, in a conservation setting and by professionals working in the conservation sector.

Skills taught are many and varied, including: Setting up and manning night observation points in a Nature Reserve, using dart guns for baboon management, operation of chain-saws and bush-cutters, the use of Sherman traps for small animal surveys, fixed-point photography for vegetation surveys, the use of field guides for the identification of flora and fauna, park maintenance, park management, alien clearing, GPS mapping, and the use of biodiversity databases, among other technical skills.

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Image supplied by CPUT

Students also learnt and practiced ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork, leadership and communication by taking turns to act as supervisors or team members while undertaking specific tasks. This was combined with workshops about time management and reserve management, also given by expert practising conservationists from the City of Cape Town.

Although this camp has been run by CPUT for a number of years, the camp in 2015 represented a new beginning and was different from all previous camps. For the first time, the students did not have to pay for the camp from their own pockets, the 2015 and 2016 camps were fully funded by BotSoc, including transport, food and training expenses. Therefore for the first time students who did not have the means could fully participate.

Previously, those students who could not afford the camp were disadvantaged even further by missing the training. Some students could afford only the transport costs but had no funds for sufficient nourishment and water during the training camp. The feedback from students highlighted that the provision of food saved time that would have been lost when all students had to prepare their own meals, and so there was more time for conservation activities.

The provision of meals also provided a good opportunity for students from all backgrounds to socialise, learn from each other, and sow the seeds for fruitful collaboration as professionals. Therefore the full sponsorship of the camp by BotSoc was a key component in enabling the success of students who would otherwise have been marginalised, and is a tangible contribution towards the inclusion of young people from diverse backgrounds in entering the conservation profession.

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Image supplied by CPUT

Students have expressed their great appreciation of the training received and were full of praise for the facilitators, and singled out experts and field rangers from the City of Cape Town as well as the CTEET staff for the quality of nourishment provided.

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Image supplied by CPUT

According to Prof. Kioko, the success of the field training camp is the result of highly effective collaboration with organisations such as the City of Cape Town, CTEET, and BotSoc, and is very grateful to those organisations. He added that it is BotSoc that provided the ‘glue’ for the collaboration that delivered the successful 2015 and 2016 camps by providing the funding. The collaboration between BotSoc and CPUT is making a real difference in training the conservationists of the future.

Another activity supported through collaborations is that the first and second year students visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens annually. BotSoc facilitates entry and information guides to assist learning through another great partnership with SANBI. You can read more about the BotSoc- SANBI partnership here. This year, the students attended an outing to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Compton Herbarium, where they were shown and taught about specimen preservation and research with Christopher Cupido at the Compton Herbarium.

Following this they enjoyed using the gardens as their outdoor classroom for the day. Welcomed by BotSoc Executive Assistant, Catherine Clulow and told about the BotSoc/ SANBI partnership, students were then led by SANBI’s Julia September on an in depth tour of the gardens to highlight conservation in situ and ex situ. The group were treated to behind the scenes visits to areas of conservation management and research within the gardens and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

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CPUT nature conservation students visit Kirstenbosch 2016. © Catherine Clulow

BotSoc provides CPUT with resources used in broadening student’s knowledge and interest in biodiversity, and Veld & Flora magazines are used for discussion topics and passion sharing. Students return the ‘favour’ so to speak, in promoting the Society during their WIL internships, when they give presentations about BotSoc to their host institutions, thereby spreading the word about the Society.

It is inspiring to see the determination and spirit of the next generation and we wish all who are influenced by this partnership, to be inspired and develop ever- growing passion to remain interested and working in the environmental sector, greening the future.

Acknowledgement: We would like to thank the BotSoc members who so generously donate funds for this project.

An Introduction to Aloes of Limpopo

Written by Sandra Lennox and Catherine Clulow

With water restrictions underway in South Africa, there is a far stronger need to encourage water-wise gardening and promote indigenous plants. Today we are talking about the rich variety of different Aloe species found in Limpopo Province. These unique and beautiful plants are hardy, drought tolerant and water-wise.

1. Aloe lettyae

This is a grass aloe, easily recognised by spots visible on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces. Plant population dynamics and conservation of this species are currently being studied thanks to funding from the Botanical Education Trust.

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Aloe lettyae endemic to the critically endangered Woodbush Granite Grassland. Leaves are spotted on both the upper (adaxial) and lower (abaxial) surface. © Pat Lennox

This rare summer-flowering Aloe grows amongst the spring flowers of the Woodbush Granite Grassland and may be seen while on one of the hour long wild-flower walks during the annual mid-September Spring Festival, led by the Friends of Haenertsburg Grasslands (FRoHG). The rare Aloe plants were photographed one cloudy and cool day, while accompanied by eco-enthusiasts from nearby towns as well as the dog Pluto, who watched closely.

The land had been burnt and several plants were in flower, belying the fact that there had been little rain. This shows that underground storage organs such as bulbs and tubers are an important part of the survival of these grassland species, hence clearing land for example for firebreaks irreparably destroys the integrity of the flora. The grasslands have established over a long period of time.

Coincidentally meanwhile the CITES convention had started in Gauteng, to discuss the preservation of endangered species such as elephant, pangolin and rhino. While scientists and policy makers talked, there are those who walked, appreciating the priceless value of the grassland wildflowers. Rare and endangered plants with medicinal value have been listed for the Woodbush Granite Grasslands (Dzerefos et al. 2016).

2. Aloe greatheadii var. greatheadii

This is the spotted aloe with spots on the upper leaf surfaces. This species is relatively commonly and is an important plant for bees as the pollen has a high protein and lipid nutritional content.

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Aloe greatheadii var greatheadii in flower on a granite ridge near Houtbosdorp and Moketsi, Limpopo. The leaves are spotted on the upper surfaces. © Pat Lennox

The spotted aloe, or kgopane (Setswana) produces its spectacular flowers in the winter months (June-July). The plants are stemless, occurring singularly or in groups of up to 15 plants, up to 1.7 m high. The dark, shiny green leaves present with spotted, elongated markings arranged in bands on the upper (adaxial) surface, while the leaves are light green and  not spotted underneath (abaxial surface). The one to three inflorescences are branched. Each raceme presents 30-40 pale pink to bright red flowers. Aloe greatheadii var. greatheadii is pollinated by bees and birds. Wind distributes the seeds.

This species occurs in the Grassland and Bushveld Biomes, in open woodland and in overgrazed areas, at altitude from 1,000 to 1,660 m. It is distributed throughout the Free State and northern KwaZulu-Natal. Aloe greatheadii is named after Dr. J.B. Greathead who collected the type specimen with Dr S. Schönland. The bitter sap is medicinal and is used as a treatment for burns, sores and wounds. The young leaves are chopped and boiled for use as an antiseptic.

In the garden, seeds of this species can be germinated in a mix of sand, compost and river sand. Cover with pebbles. Keep in a dry and warm environment. Avoid drying out the growth mixture. Plants are frost and fire tolerant and are used as soil binders on mine dumps.

3. Aloe marlothii

This is a very large, single stemmed Aloe often seen in large stands along the road between Polokwane and Tzaneen, interestingly this is unusual as explained later.

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Aloe marlothii in the Mamabolo Bushveld near Moketsi, Limpopo. © Pat Lennox

The large, single stemmed Aloe marlothii occurs in bushveld vegetation on rocky ridges from sea level to approximately 1,600 m at warm temperatures with infrequent frost. It is commonly known as the Mountain Aloe, Bergalwyn (Afrikaans), inhlaba or umhlaba (Zulu), Aloe marlothii is distributed from the north-western, northern and north-eastern part of Southern Africa and is rewarding to cultivate.

Aloe (Greek) refers to the product of dried juice from the leaves, Alloeh (Sanskrit) and Allal (Hebrew).  The species epithet refers to the botanist H.W. Rudolf Marloth. These Aloes are associated with the African iron age archaeological sites on the Polokwane (formerly  Pietersberg) plateau where the distribution is an anomaly in terms of climate and ecology. The dense stands consist of 80 to 100 year old plants.

It is thought that plants were introduced as seeds near the Ndebele villages as the spiny leaves were used to prepare hides for dresses, dried leaf ash may be added to snuff, the flower nectar is edible and leaf decoctions may be used as a vermifuge. The succulent Aloe marlothii plants are suited to drought conditions, as water is stored in stems and leaves, though kudu browse the leaves during dry conditions, thorns protect the rough leaf edges from browsing, dried leaf bases defend the stems and the plant height enables escape from browsers while surviving drought.

4. Aloe arborescens

This is the most commonly cultivated of the Southern African Aloes. The Aloe leaf gel can be used to heal sunburn.

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Aloe arborescens © Callidendron nursery

This species is commonly known as the Kranzaloe (Engl.), Kranzalwyn (Afr.), ikalene (Xhosa), inhabane or umlabana (Zulu).  It occurs on cliffs in mountainous regions, rocky ranges and outcrops and in dense bush. It occurs in summer rainfall regions and has the widest distribution of the Southern African Aloes, from the Cape to the eastern coast, KZN and northern South Africa, from sea level to higher altitudes.

The cliff dwelling form was formerly known as Aloe mirabilis. Aloe arborescens tolerates drought and it is moderately frost resistant. This is one of the most widely cultivated Aloes in the world. It is one of the first Aloes collected for cultivation from South Africa. The inflorescences are unbranched and flowers emerge during winter (May to July). These are commonly orange, rarely pure yellow or a combination of orange and yellow. The nectar is edible to birds such as sunbirds as well as bees.

Aloe arborescens is recommended as a key component of herb gardens. A leaf decoction may be used as an antiseptic and for indigestion and it has also been used in stock and poultry farming. The leaf powder is considered to have protective properties against storms. Aloe arborescens are useful barrier plants and as a hedge. In rural areas, remnants indicate fenced enclosures or cattle kraals.

In conclusion

Aloe lettyae highlights the conservation value of the grasslands. Aloe greatheadii is present as a spotted, grass aloe. Aloe marlothii has been introduced for its economic value. Aloe arborescens is widely cultivated and an early subject for gardens having been collected from the wild. All Aloes are water-wise their flowers bring colour to the garden.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This article was written with assistance from the Friends of Haenertsburg Grasslands, FRoHG and the Tzaneen Eco-club with inspiration from Gariep nursery, Pretoria which specializes in the cultivation of Aloe. The photos were taken by Pat Lennox.

REFERENCES

Aloe greatheadii Schönland var. greatheadii (Internet: www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata; accessed October 2016)

Bredenkamp, G..J. and Van Vuuren, D.R.J. 1987. Note on the occurrence and distribution of Aloe marlothii Berger on the Polokwane (formerly Pietersberg) Plateau. South African Journal of Science 83: 498-550.

Dzerefos, C., Witkowski, E., Kremer-Köhne, S. 2016. Aiming for the biodiversity target with the social welfare arrow: medicinal and other useful plants for a critically endangered grassland ecosystem in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology. DOI 10.1080/13504509.2016.1A.4963

Emms, Paul. 2007. Aloe marlothii (Internet: www.plantzafrica.com; accessed October 2016)

Hankey, A. and Notten, A. 2004. Aloe arborescens Mill (Internet: http://www.plantsafrica.com; accessed October 2016).

Human, H and Nicolson, S.W. 2006. Nutritional content of fresh, bee collected and stored pollen of Aloe greatheadii var davyana (Asphodelaceae). Phytochemistry 67 (14) 1486-1492.

Letty, C. 1962. Wildflowers of the Transvaal. Struik, Cape Town.

Onderstaal, J. 1984. Transvaal , Lowveld and Escarpment. South African Wildflower Guide 4. Botanical Society of South Africa , Cape Town

Phiri, P.S.M. 2005. Preliminary checklist of plants of Botswana. Sabonet (southern African botanical diversity network) report 32: 107.

Pooley, Elsa. 2005. A field guide to Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. The Flora Conservation Trust, Durban.

Reynolds, G.W. 1982. The Aloes of South Africa. Balkema, Cape Town: 481.

Setshogo, M.P. 2005. Preliminary checklist of plants of Botswana. Sabonet, 37: 115.

Smith, G.F., Figueiredo, E., Klopper, R.R. and Crouch, N.R. 2012. Summer flowering species of maculate Aloe. L. (Asphodelaceae, Alloideae). The Aloe zebrine complex from South Africa. Bradleya 30: 155-166.

The Conservation (2016) Conservation convention (23-09-2016)

The Mail & Guardian (2016) The CITES conservation convention (24th to 30th September, 2016)

Van Staden, L. and Kremer-Köhne, S. 2015. Aloe lettyae Reynolds. National assesment: Red list of southern African plants, 2015/1. (Internet: redlist.sanbi.org; accessed October 2016)

Van Wyk, B. and Smith, G. 2003. Guide to the Aloes of South Africa edn 2. Briza Publications, Pretoria

In a nutshell: South Africa’s National Strategy for Plant Conservation

Written by Catherine Clulow

As signatory to the Convention of Biological Diversity, South Africa is dedicated to a national strategy to safeguard plants aligned with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. South Africa is in a prime position to make a significant impact to global plant conservation as we have 6% of the world’s plant diversity and strong botanical and conservation capacity. This blog aims to spread awareness about the strategy and its importance, as well as the role BotSoc is playing in its implementation.

Over the past two years the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) have worked together with South African botanists and conservationists to develop this strategy. The South African National Strategy for Plant Conservation (NSPC) includes 16 outcome-orientated targets, which if well-implemented will lead to the improved conservation of plants.

Due to South Africa being megadiverse and facing unique challenges, the global targets were altered for the development of South Africa’s strategy. The targets were altered in such a way that they are attainable and relevant in the South African context. The targets range from documenting conservation status of plants, to conservation in situ and ex situ. There are targets tackling the threat of alien vegetation and a range of targets addressing the sustainable use of plants.

The strategy ends with targets focusing on its implementation and increased awareness and education about plants and the need to conserve them. Each target is nationally relevant and aligned with activities identified by the South African National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation is available here.

South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation has 5 objectives that outline the 16 Targets to be implemented by 2020.

These objectives are:
1. Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognised;
2. Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved;
3. Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner;
4. Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on earth is promoted;
5. The capacity and public engagement necessary to implement the strategy have been developed.

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BotSoc has been directly involved in assisting in editing this strategy and are committed to the implementation of specific targets 14, 15 and 16.

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Target 14: The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, education and public awareness programmes.

Target outcomes for 2020

– Plant conservation included in the life science curriculum across SA

– Plant conservation awareness expanded by exposure to botanical gardens and by involving the public in citizen science projects

– Plant conservation promoted in relevant media

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Target 15: The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities sufficient according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this strategy.

Target outcomes for 2020

– Conservation courses offered in SA’s universities aligned with skills needed in the field of plant conservation

-Work place mentorship opportunities available in plant conservation programmes

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Target 16: Institutions, networks and partnerships for plant conservation established and strengthened at national, regional and international levels to achieve the targets of this strategy.

Target outcomes for 2020

-A South African network for plant conservation effectively implementing and updating the NSPC.

-Working groups for each target ensuring that specified outputs are being achieved.

Through BotSoc’s activities and partnerships we aim to contribute to the implementation of these targets and successfully achieve the outcomes laid out in the strategy. In doing so, we will be playing our vital and attainable role, and contributing to the greater scheme of safeguarding South Africa’s rich and unique floral heritage, as laid out in the NSPC.

Over the next few years stories of the NSPC implementation and of outcome-oriented activities will be shared. Each of us can play a role in highlighting the importance of conservation to others and sharing what we have learnt about the strategy and outcome news stories as they become available.

Numerous environmental entities, bodies and individuals are involved in driving the activities of this living and dynamic document, and the successful implementation of the strategy outcomes. Through collaborative efforts we can and will make a difference to safeguard biodiversity for all.

Exploring the wonders of a hillside in Limpopo

Written by Sandra Lennox & Catherine Clulow

This is a small selection of plants in flower on a granite ridge in the Limpopo province during spring, some of which could suit water-wise gardens. This particular ridge seems to be a frost free area, as the cabbage tree, Cussonia spicata and the misty plume bush, Tetradenia riparia are sensitive to frost.

  1. Athrixia phylicoides, Asteraceae (Bushman’s Tea)

This small bush, made more compact as a garden plant through regular pruning, can be used to make a refreshing health tea (by brewing its leaves and twigs), which is used as a stimulant in traditional herbal medicine in Venda, Limpopo. The wood is useful and the branches may be bound to form brooms for the patio or garden.

  1.  Cussonia spicata, Araliaceae (Cabbage Tree)

Cussonia spicata has succulent roots which make it highly drought resistant. This species is sensitive to frost. It may be grown in large pots, which also restricts the ultimate size.

In nature the Cabbage Tree is found on forest margins, in wooded grassland and on rocky outcrops.  Being hardy, it occurs from the coast to mountains. It is evergreen but frost tender.  It occurs as an occasional tree approximately 4m tall. The crushed leaves have a faint carrot-like aroma. Cabbage trees have been found growing on a gentle west-facing slope in unburnt wooded grassland on granite and in full sun, where there is a tree with a thick trunk.

These trees are in the savanna but in the forest nearby – northern mistbelt forest – there is a particularly large Cussonia spicata. The Cabbage Tree in the Woodbush Forest near Haenertsburg has grown to champion size having a trunk over 7.6 m (25 ft) in circumference, in addition to having an extraordinary height and crown spread. This particular tree grows in a hot, wet climate in the kloof and is recorded as one of the remarkable trees recorded by Thomas Packenham author, dendrologist and historian, while “on safari in Southern Africa”.

The subterranean, succulent roots provide moisture. In folk medicine the bark, leaves and roots have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Beware, as the roots are poisonous, although traditionally having been used medicinally against malaria, digestive and reproductive system ailments. The hollow, split stems have been used as trays, the wood is light and can be hollowed out, particularly for fodder and possibly for plant containers.

  1. Rapanea melanophloeos, Myrsinaceae (Cape Beech)

This is an evergreen tree which grows up to 20 m tall. However, in a garden situation it seldom would attain this size and is a great choice for owing to its non -invasive root system. In nature, the Cape Beech occurs on forest margins, in bush clumps and often in damp places. It is a pioneer tree which occurs from the coast to mountains.

The wood is hard, pinkish brown, moderately heavy and suitable for carving, particularly for violins and other musical instruments. The Cape Beech has edible fruit. In folk medicine, bark is used as an expectorant and an emetic, with anodyne and tonic properties, the caveat being that these require development by the pharmaceutical industry, so probably should not be tested at home without supervision. The bark of the Cape Beech is used in folk medicine for protection.

The Cape Beech grows easily from seed and seedlings are transplanted readily. The trees are moderately drought resistant and can withstand a fair degree of frost. Trees grow in shade, full sun and tolerate onshore coastal winds. The fruit attracts birds such as Barbets, Guinea Fowl, Louries and Pigeons.

  1. The African Protea, White Sugarbush (Protea gauguedii), Proteaceae

This is a spreading multi-stemmed shrub or small, gnarled tree. In nature the White Sugarbush or African Protea occurs in grassland and bushveld in rocky places. The flowerhead (inflorescence) is usually solitary and up to 110 mm in diameter.

  1. Broad-Leaved Boekenhout (Faurea rochetiana subsp. speciosa), Proteaceae

This is a small to medium, deciduous tree, with a crooked trunk, grey crown and reddish autumn colours which occurs in high grassland and woodland. There is a Broad-Leaved Boekenhout tree, ± 3 m tall with gnarled trunk, inflorescences ascending, growing on a gentle W-facing slope in unburnt wooded grassland on granite, in full sun in the Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld, near Houtbosdorp, Limpopo.

In folk medicine the roots of the Broad-Leaved Boekenhout are utilised. Faurea rochetiana (A.Rich.) Chiov. ex Pic.Serm. was named after C.L.X. Rochet d’Hericourt, a French chemist who explored Ethiopia (1839-1845).

  1. The straw everlasting, sewejaartijie (Helichrysum krausii), Asteraceae

This is an aromatic shrublet, growing up to 1 m tall, which occurs in coastal grassland and in open woodland. For example, the straw everlasting is a common herb, ± 40 cm tall with yellow flowers, growing on a rocky ridge in unburnt wooded grassland on granite, in full sun in the Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld.  The straw everlasting is visited by honey-bees. It is easy to grow, may be grown from seed and needs full sun. The Helichrysum krausii was named after Christian Krauss, (1812-90), German scientist and collector, in South Africa (1839-40).

  1. Phymaspermum athanasioides (Asteraceae)

This is a common herb ± 40 cm tall with yellow flowers, growing on a rocky ridge in unburnt wooded grassland on granite, in full sun in the Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld.

  1. Misty plume bush or ginger bush, Tetradenia riparia, (Lamiaceae)

This is a robust, slightly succulent shrub, or occasionally small tree 1-3 m high, up to 5 m which occurs on wooded hillsides in frost free areas. It occurs near rocky outcrops or at margins of evergreen forest, often near water. The flowers emerge in July to September before the leaves. The plants are dioecious, with male flower spikes 2-8 cm long and with denser, female flower spikes 1-2.5 cm long. The plants are lavender-scented, used in folk medicine for coughs, sore throats, stomach aches and malaria. These hardy plants are easily grown from cuttings.

In conclusion, on this particular hillside, amongst the plants rapidly collected by a small group of plant enthusiasts, were a Crowberry (Searsia pentheri, Anacardiaceae) and a Climbing Numnum (Carissa edulis, Apocynaceae), several Cabbage Trees, Broom and Cluster-Leaved Asparagus (Asparagus virgatus and A. laricinus, Asparagaceae) and an Aloe sp. (Asphodelaceae). There were at least seven species of Asteraceae including Silver Oak, Straw Everlasting, Small-Leaved Fluff Bush and Small-Head Camphor Bush.

Trees included the Common Spike Thorn and the Koko Tree (Gymnosporia buxifolia and Maytenus undata, Celastraceae), Blue Guarri Trees (Euclea crispa, Ebenaceae), Cape Beech (Rapanea melanophloeos, Myrsinaceae) and African Wild Olive (Olea europaea, ssp africana, Oleaceae). Useful plants included the African Protea or White Sugar Bush, (Protea gaguedi, Proteaceae), Anthospermum welwitschii, (Rubiaceae), the Lemon Bush or Fever Tea (Lippia javanica, Verbenaceae) and the Ginger Bush (Tetradenia riparia, Lamiaceae).

It seems that, just on this small hillside, there are trees and shrubs which may be used for fuel, there are those with edible fruit or from which tea may be made, there are plants with medicinal properties and there is wood which may be used for carvings or which were used historically for structures such as wagons. In terms of environment, this ridge probably would not have experienced frost and the vegetation is Bushveld and Savanna although there is Mistbelt Forest within walking distance. The diversity is surely worthy of appreciation and hence conservation and that is only the plants, there are also birds, lizards and more.

Biodiversity in our country is diverse and fascinating. We hope you learnt something from and enjoyed this blog post from the BotSoc Limpopo branch. Find out more about the Botanical Society of South Africa here.

Acknowledgements

This blog has been written with gratitude for the field notes and plant identifications by Barbara Turpin, Buffelskloof Nature reserve, Lydenburg and Bronwyn Egan, Curator, Larry leach Herbarium, University of Limpopo. Most photographs are courtesy of Pat Lennox, though the photographs of the Cape Beech, Rapanea melanophloeos are by Barbara Turpin.

References

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley’s Trees of Eastern South Africa. Durban: Natal Flora Publications Trust

Champion Tree Project (2002 onwards). Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).  (Internet: http://www.championtrees.co.za/files/26111/championtreesofsamay2016.pdf; accessed September 2016).

Coates-Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa, 3rd edn. Cape Town: Struik.

Packenham, T. 2007. In search of remarkable trees. On safari in southern Africa. Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg.

Pooley, E. 2005. A field guide to wildflowers KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Vandecasteele, P., Godard, P. 2006. In celebration of Fynbos, gardening, healing, cooking, decorating. Stuik, Cape Town.

Van Wyk, B.-E. & Gericke, N.  2000. People’s Plants. A Guide to useful Plants of Southern Africa. Pretoria: Briza Publications, p 102, 103, 312.

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 2013. Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Nature.

Venter, F. & Venter, J-A. 2002. Making the most of indigenous trees. Briza, Pretoria.

 

 

Sneak peek at the 10 SANBI National Botanical Gardens

Written by Catherine Clulow

So I bet you’ve heard of Kirstenbosch right? And perhaps the garden(s) in your region, but many people are not aware that there are in fact 10 National Botanical Gardens managed by BotSoc’s partner the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Each garden gem offers something special and each and every one is well worth a visit. What’s more, as a BotSoc member, you are afforded the benefit of free entrance into all 10 gardens (with presentation of your valid BotSoc membership card), so head on out and explore. Each garden offers endless opportunities of learning, enjoying and engaging with nature.

Here’s a sneak peek at the 10 SANBI National Botanical Gardens (NBGs): Find out where they are and what they offer and pop in to explore and enjoy them when you are next in the area.

1. Free State NBG – Bloemfontein

On the fringes of Bloemfontein this garden extends between picturesque dolerite koppies. An experience not to be missed.

2. Hantam NBG – Nieuwoudtville

Take your time to enjoy the array of flora and fauna that call Hantam National Botanical Garden home. The first National Botanic Garden in the Northern Cape.

3. Harold Porter NBG – Betty’s Bay

Situated in the heart of the coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest, extending from mountain slopes to the coastal dunes of the Overstrand district, this garden is renowned for their waterfalls and amber pools. The inspiration behind the gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

4. Karoo Desert NBG – Worcester

An exceptional gem, this garden displays a wide variety of South Africa’s desert and semi-desert plants at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range. The garden showcases a large succulent collection and is most popular to visit when the annuals and vygies are in bloom during Spring.

5. Kirstenbosch NBG – Cape Town

This world-renowned garden of magnificence on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is more than just a garden: It is a tourism hotspot, place of recreation, conservation and learning. This garden is also home to the Botanical Society of South Africa’s Head Office and award-winning Centenary ‘Boomslang’ Canopy walkway.

6. KwaZulu-Natal NBG – Pietermaritzburg

This peaceful garden focuses on the conservation of plants from the eastern regions of South Africa and  rare and endangered species from elsewhere.

7. Kwelera NBG – North of East London

The youngest of the SANBI national botanical gardens. Wild and raw beauty awaits and magic is found in the dune forests and surrounds.

Unfortunately this garden is not yet open to the public

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
©SANBI

8. Lowveld NBG – Nelspruit

This garden is characterised by two rivers crossing, the Crocodile and Nels Rivers. Remarkable waterfalls and an African rainforest containing captivating vegetation from the coastal belt as well as Limpopo Province, are only a glimpse of what’s to be seen and enjoyed.

9. Pretoria NBG – Brummeria

This urban oasis offers a pristine getaway situated in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s administrative capital. A 35 metre high quartzite outcrop divides the garden into two sections offering visitors two worlds to explore. This garden is also home to the SANBI head office.

10. Walter Sisulu NBG – Roodepoort

Voted the best place to get back to nature in Gauteng for the past nine years: This garden is an escape in the middle of the city. A breathtaking waterfall, outdoor gym, fascinating Black Eagle project, children’s area, restaurant, and birding opportunities make this a must visit.

Roots of Sustainability Garden- come see us at the CT Flower Show (*Giveaway up for grabs*)

Hello readers. You may or may not have heard yet that The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) will be participating in the unmissable Cape Town Flower Show at the Castle of Good Hope 27-30 October 2016.

show-garden

BotSoc have collaborated with Metro, and brought partners Reliance on board to bring visitors an awesome show garden at the Cape Town Flower Show this year- the Roots of Sustainability Garden– where we’ll be showcasing easy and effective ways to harvest rainwater and irrigate your garden, as well as tips for being water-wise and choosing indigenous plant options. There will be a variety of inspiring ideas on creating your perfect water-wise garden and making indigenous plant choices. View your roof in a whole different light and make your home sustainable.

Water is a scarce and dwindling resource, and South Africa is a dry country with unpredictable rainfall and an ever increasing demand for it. As the demand for this precious resource grows, so will its price along with legislation discouraging excessive use. It is, therefore, important to garden for the future.

Water-wise gardens cut down water usage but are still beautiful and, as there are so many indigenous options to choose from, water-wise gardening should be the norm.

Metro Roof|Solar|Electric, Reliance and BotSoc all fully support this notion and so have collaborated to participate in this year’s CT Flower Show to demonstrate to the general public tips and ideas on how to garden water-wise and sustainably. Visit our Roots of Sustainability Garden at the show (Garden 11), where we hope to educate and inspire. Be sure to pick up our brochure on 7 principles of water-wise gardening too.

We will highlight energy harvesting methods and water-wise gardening tips.

You can also find out all about BotSoc membership and add to your collection of natural heritage books at the BotSoc Bookshop. They will be located in the exhibitors’ hall and are sure to have an array of spectacular choices available, including authors from some of the CT Flower Show workshops and presentations. A great spot to get a gift and/or to spoil yourself with a book, BotSoc membership and/or a goodie or two.

Please remember to bring your plastic as the event is cashless, using WAP only. For all visitor information, please read here.

*WIN WIN WIN*

Stand the chance to WIN 2 TICKETS to the Cape Town Flower Show! Trust us you don’t want to miss out on this event. There’s something for everyone!

How to enter:

Simply comment below what the Metro/BotSoc/Reliance Roots of Sustainability Garden will be highlighting to visitors.

Terms and Conditions:

  • This prize may not be won by any staff member of BotSoc or their direct family members or any associated companies to the Cape Town Flower Show.
  • The prize is redeemable at the complimentary ticket counter at the Castle of Good Hope and valid for one day’s entrance only.
  • Giveaway entries close Wednesday 19th October 2016.
  • Please note that you can only enter once and the winner will be chosen by random.org. We will contact you via email and your name and contact will be shared with the CT Flower Show organising team to ensure you’re on the guest list, and they’ll get in touch with you regarding redeeming your tickets.

Best of luck! And if you don’t win, no need for FOMO, you can get your tickets here or at the door.

Follow, like and engage with the BotSoc family on Facebook and Twitter. Find out more about and engage with the lovely folk from Reliance on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Engage with the sustainable Metro team on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you and see you there. It’d be great if you could share this blog with others so they to can stand a chance to win.