Herbs - Newsletter of Hermanus Botanical Society
Fernkloof Nature Reserve
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WHY ARE OUR FIRE LILIES SO ELUSIVE?
|The scarket sleeping beauties wait for the kiss of fire before blooming briefly and disappearing under the scorched ground again. Less than two weeks after the devastating January 15 fire on the Raed-na-Gael mountains they were flowering red against black. Early February they were gone. Cyrtanthus ventricosus, the Fire Lily, belongs to the Amaryllis family. There are 55 species ranging from East Africa to the Western Cape, 21 of which are in the Cape Floral Kingdom. Big sister Cyrtanthus carneus, on the Red Data list as vulnerable, is bigger and more robust .It also flowered in unusual profusion after the January fire in a rock gully above Buff Rock. Strangely enough, the cream cyrtanthus, C. leucanthus, listed as rare, flowered abundantly in March this year on the Voelklip burn of 16 months ago. Another fire lily, akin to C ventricosus, but a delicate rose pink colour, was discovered in the Outeniqua Mountains, first in 1936, then again in l999, after fire. It is extensively described in Bothalia, a journal of botanical research, volume 31.1, May 2001.It has been named C debilis. Both cyrtanthus have unusually long stamens, which arch back against the tepals in the case of C ventricosus . C ventricosus also has an undivided stigma. Just to confuse things botanical a little further, there are some of our fire lilies on the Cape Peninsula which are salmon-coloured, not red. As Bothalia states : “Studies in Cyrtanthus still need to draw on additional data to indicate which of the floral features reflect natural affinities and which, if any, are the result of convergent evolution.”|
HOY’S KOPPIE TO KLIPSPRINGER YIELDS BOTANICAL DELIGHTS
To most Hermanus residents, the fire of 15 January 2008 is but a distant memory,
except when reminded of it by the blackened slopes above the western half of town.
But to a group of enthusiastic amateur botanists it is an on-going and exciting challenge!
The recovery of fynbos after fire has been well documented, in Hermanus and elsewhere,
but this fire in particular has seen a new generation of knowledge-seekers combing the
slopes and greeting each new species emerging from the ash with cries of delight.
Hoy's Koppie in particular, not having been burnt for more than 40 years, is providing
special delight. This fire is also giving us the opportunity of using modern technology
to create a digital record of each species as it appears. This will lay the foundation
of a valuable addition to our internationally recognised Herbarium.
Within 5 days of the fire, with the embers barely cold, the first buds of the Fire Lily,
Cyrtanthus ventricosus, could be seen. They were in full flower by 22 January and by
4 February were all but gone. Talk about ephemeral!
By far the most obvious growth to be seen after the fire was the emergence of numerous
sturdy Asparagus spears, the dark red stems of Asparagus rubicundus and the white stems
of A. lignosus being the most common. They flowered within weeks, covering the slopes
with their tiny white flowers. In quick succession they have been followed by the
yellow tulp, Moraea pyrophila (the last of which may still be seen along Mountain Drive
in Northcliff), the sweetly scented Gladiolus martleyi and the small white flowers of
Rhus rosmarinifolia. Right now the slopes are covered with the bright red flowers of
the fire heath (rooihaartjie), Erica cerinthoides and the deep pink Tritoniopsis lata.
Even the apparently barren slopes above Hermanus Heights are yielding their surprises.
We know from previous fires that these sandy wind-blown slopes recover more slowly than
elsewhere but a scramble amongst the blackened stems of what was formerly a copse of
dense vegetation revealed a dense colony of Bulbinella plants, hundreds of
Cape Snowdrops (Crassula capensis) and the emerging leaves of a large patch of
the very scarce Protea angustata. Much indeed for the botanists amongst us to drool over!
Hoy's Koppie has been a particular delight. The fire has opened it up making it
once again safe for visitors and the Cliff Path Management Group, with help from
Coast Care and the Municipality is upgrading the paths and keeping it free of litter.
Walkers were rewarded within days of the fire with a magnificent display of
March Lilies, followed by two species of Paint Brush, Haemanthus coccineus and
H. sanguineus. April has brought a beautiful array of the pink
Cliff Gladiolus (Gladiolus carmineus) and a swathe of bright orange Watsonia angusta.
The challenge with Hoy's Koppie is to decide what occurs there naturally and what
was introduced by gardeners of yore. Whilst all of the abovementioned species
do occur in the Hermanus area, the Koppie was obviously extensively gardened at
some stage in its history and many remnants of early plantings remain.
Rose Mafokosho: our new Eco-Schools Co-ordinator
|Our society is funding, from Wildflower Festival proceeds, the appointment of a second co-ordinator for the Overberg ecoschools programme over the next three years. This is her story: Please let me introduce myself, Rose Mafokosho. I taught for twenty years at Tashinga Primary School in Harare in Zimbabwe. I was very involved with the activities of the environmental clubs at different schools in the area. I was the secretary of the National Committee of the Network of environmental Clubs. I accepted the position of au pair for a family that are presently living in Vermont. As the children are at school in the morning, I am available to put my skills and knowledge of the teaching profession to good use during this time. I am very happy to have been appointed as an Eco-schools Co-ordinator, working for the OCF. I am presently working with five schools namely, Hawston Primary, Overstrand Learning Academy, Northcliff College, Lukhanya Primary and Qhayiya High School. The schools have all registered with the Eco-schools program and have decided on their themes. Most have made plans for their portfolios and I have started working with them on this. All the schools are involved in the blue flag beach programme of which Hawston Primary has already completed their outing. They visited Hawston beach for two days and had lessons on the Clean Marine Initiative and safety at the beach. This was successful due largely to the valuable input of the Overstrand Municipal Environmental Management team. Overstrand Learning Academy is involved with the Adopt a Beach programme which will be run at the Onrus beach for a period of six weeks. Qhayiya, Hawston Primary and Lukhanya schools have received bicycles from BEN (Bicycle Empowerment Network), the implementing agent for the Shova Kalula empowerment through cycling programme of the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works. We will be working with these schools next term on the handing out of these bikes and attend to the safety training at that time.|
DID YOU KNOW?
A beautiful Cape Sunbird, red and green-feathered, flew into the Visitors’ Centre when we were arranging the weekly flower display. It viewed us from the rafters until we had finished, surveyed the laid out botanical feast, then swooped down on to the King Protea to sample the offering. Then it took a whirl on each erica until the pink Saltera sarcocolla took its fancy. A quick flit to the tiny wooden window, while we held our collective breath, and our visitor was gone.
GRAND WINTER HACK MAY 25:
This will take place on Sunday May 25 from 9am.
Meet at Riverside Road near the new precincts
and attack the Acacia longifolia and baby gums
with gusto. Refreshments will be provided .
Everyone is welcome.
Good work was done at the March hack by the following
(in alphabetical order ): Jane Crawford, Estelle Durham,
Geraldine Gardiner, Bob Hill, Sandy Jenkin, Corrie and
Ed Lucas, Billy Robertson, Phil Taylor and assorted dogs.
The samies, buns and cheese scones were much enjoyed.
For more info call Bob Hill 028 3121463
No walks or excursions are planned for June, July, August.
September 9 – 12 Excursion to Swellendam (two or three nights optional) September 27 Day Walk to Platbos Forest near Gansbaai. A repeat for those missed it earlier this year and an ‘encore’ for those who enjoyed it.
For more info call Piet Joubert 028 3140264
|For further information re walks please contact Piet Joubert||tel 028-3140264|
|Published by Hermanus Botanical Society,
PO Box 208,
Editor: GERALDINE GARDINER - Fax (028) 313 0617