Brunsvegia in Bill Barnes Nature Reserve

Peter Warren submitted this article:

I felt big excitement when Warwick Fraser led his monthly walk on the Bill Barnes Nature Reserve in January because we saw both oribi and the cranes. But there was more to come when we spotted the magnificent sight of a bright red candelabra flower which was thought to be a reasonably common KZN species, Brunsvigia natalensis.

Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia undulata) at Bill Barns Nature Reserve.

I rolled under the fence to photograph and measure the plant.

Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia undulata) at Bill Barns Nature Reserve.

Later, as I posted the images onto the iSpot website, I noticed the measurements did not quite fit the identification. Within hours an expert re-identified the plant as the rare Ruby brunsvigia (B. undulata).

Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia undulata) at Bill Barns Nature Reserve.

I did not think there was enough information to establish this beyond doubt, so I contacted Ann Burke to gain access to the reserve and then rushed up to gather the required data. Three plant experts have now confirmed this identification, so there is no doubt about it. Named for its undulating leaves, it seems to be restricted to the higher areas of the KZN Midlands, rare but not under threat as yet. We hope it stays this way.

Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia undulata) at Bill Barns Nature Reserve.

I am amazed how often I stumble on something interesting when out flowering, and that is having known very little about plants a year ago.

You can do this in flowers where it is not possible in other areas. The reasons are many. We are blessed with the huge biodiversity of KZN, and therefore there is still much to find out. Then new technologies are opening up new opportunities. You do not need high end digital cameras, a compact is good enough. iSpot allows you to share your experiences and fast internet gives you the chance to up and down load high resolution pictures that was simply not possible a even a few years ago. And the photographers know little about botany, and the botanists not much about photography, so the field is wide open. The monopoly on knowledge has at last been broken. These things are going to completely transform the botanical landscape in a way the Victorians did with their samples and flower presses. I am going to be part of this.

Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia undulata) at Bill Barns Nature Reserve.

I am having a lot of fun doing this, and it turns out I was able to start to make exciting finds quite quickly. The main reason is that  a flower does not run away so I can photograph it and identify it at my leisure.

What KZN has in addition is some talented and enthusiastic people who are catalysts – making it all happen. That is where our advantage lies. and I feel really privileged to know and work with them.

Peter is a member of the Midlands CREW group. Interested? contact to join.  Don’t forget the regular walk in Bill Barnes Nature Reserve on the third Tuesday of every month. Next one:  16 July 09h00 Contact Warwick Fraser to book: 084 779 5375

Candelabra Flower (Brunsvigia undulata) at Bill Barns Nature Reserve.

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