CREW Fieldtrip to Sitamani

The seventh CREW fieldtrip for the 2013/2014 season was held at Sitamani in Boston. A beautiful patch of grassland which Christeen and Phillip Grant have looked after for the past 22 years – ensuring there have been no cattle grazing and trampling the plants. Christeen compiled this report which includes photos by Christeen, Peter Warren, Nkululeko Mdladla and Nikki Brighton.

03 CREW Sitamani CGrant

What a stunning flower filled day with plenty of sunshine! 13 enthusiastic people accompanied by Tigger our 19 year old cat, visited our wild flower ‘garden’, Sitamani.

Jenny Myhill kindly gave Tigger a lift when the grass got very long!

04 CREW Sitamani CGrant

Some lovely new finds including two orchids. Habenaria lithophila, final identification was due to the three lower petal lobes, which are long and very slender.

Habenaria lithophila 02 CGrant

Habenaria lithophila 01 CGrant

Disa patula, which at first glance looked like a stunted, late flowering Satyrium longicauda, had us puzzled.

().  Sitamani near Boston.

Jocelyn Sutherland spotted the distinctive ‘pixie cap’ which led to deeper investigation.

Disa patula 02 CGrant

().  Sitamani near Boston.

The next ground orchid seen was Eulophia tenella, the buds just about to open.

Eulophia tenella CGrant

Linum thunbergii, a shining, tiny yellow flower with round petals and reddish buds, was the third ‘new’ flower find.

Linum thunbergii CGrant

The final new identification was a small tree, Rock Crowned-Medlar, Pachystigma macrocalyx.

r Gina Cristeen Nikki rock medlar

According to the Pooley’s field guide, it is a small tree up to 4m, found in rocky outcrops in grassland. The leaves are quite thick and densely hairy.

Rock Crowned-medlar Pachystigma macrocalyx CGrant

In the rocks beneath it, growing quite profusely was a mystery flower.  We do love a mystery flower! Please can anyone can help with an ID?

05 Mystery flower any ideas_ CGrant

Although the other flowers had been seen before, they kept us mesmerized, and looking further in the grass and photographing everything we came across.


There was an abundance of Killickia pilosa, (old name Satureja reptans thanks to Peter Warren for the new name), sending a waft of fresh mint as we walked over them. We all sampled the delicious mint tasting leaves, laughingly calling them San sweets!

().  Sitamani near Boston.

Amongst others these were the flowers / seedheads we found: Aloe boylei seedheads,

Aloe boylei seeds CGrant

Berkheya rhapontica,

Berkheya rhapontica

Crassula alba

Crassula alba white CGrant

which, despite it’s name, comes in yellow and red too!

Crassula alba yellow CGrant

and the dainty little Crassula brachypetala,

Crassula brachypetala CGrant

Epilobium capense,

Epilobium capense CGrant

the very spotty Gladiolus ecklonii

Gladiolus ecklonii CGrant

& Gladiolus sericeovillosus seedheads,

Gladiolus sericeovillosus seed pod CGrant

Helichrysum rugulosum,

Helichrysum rugulosum CGrant

Hermannia woodii, (we all adore the dainty bell flowers on this plant)

Hermannia woodii CGrant

Hypericum lalandii,

Hypericum lalandii CGrant

Kniphofia laxiflora in both yellow and orange forms,

Kniphofia laxiflora yellow CGrant

Leonotis intermedia,

Leonotis intermedia CGrant

Indigofera hedyantha,

Indigofera heyantha CGrant

the graceful Polygala hottetotta.

Polygala hottentotta CGrant

We scrambled up the rocks to photograph Printzia pyrifolia,

Printzia pyrifolia 02 CGrant

r gina brown sitamani CREW Feb 2014 033

Rhynchosia adenodes, (used in traditional medicine to treat dysentery in calves)

Rhynchosia adenodes CGrant

Schizocarpus nervosa seeds (used to be called Scilla nervosa)

Schizocarphus nervosa seeds CGrant

Schizoglossum bidens,

Schizoglossum bidens CGrant

Sebaea sedoides,

Sebaea sedoides 02 CGrantAlways interesting to find tiny invertebrates (often the pollinators) in the flowers – like this crab spider on the Sebaea sedoides

06 Crab Spider in Sebaea sedoides CGrant

and this Gaudy Commodore butterfly (summer form)  perched on the inflorescence of Kniphofia buchananii. 

07 Gaudy Commodore summer form on Kniphofia buchananii CGrant

Striga bilabiata – a parasitic plant known as Small Witchweed

Striga bilabiata CGrant

beautiful stands of Watsonia densiflora which have been particularly spectacular this year.

Watsonia densiflora CGrant

Zaluzianskya microsiphon (Short tubed Drumsticks)

Zalunzianskya microsiphon CGrant

and Zornia capensis.

Zornia capensis CGrant

The final list of plants recorded for the day was over 50.  The Durban Bot Soc members who joined us were pleased they made the effort to explore some of the special Midlands mist-belt grassland.

r sitamani CREW Feb 2014 021

Nkululeko Mdladla filmed the action, so watch out for the CREW movie coming soon!

02 CREW Sitamani Nkulu CGrant

Interested in joining the CREW (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers)?  – email Next outings 5 March to Blinkwater (contact Suvarna 082 354 5649 and 21 March to Mbona Estate in Karkloof.  During Autumn, we will host a workshop on plant collecting and pressing in Fort Nottingham.

10 thoughts on “CREW Fieldtrip to Sitamani

  1. David Clulow

    I do not know which gave me the most pleasure – being there and seeing the enthusiastic wildflower observers, finding the gems on the grassland hillside, or enjoying this magnificent record of the outing – phew, how wonderful to be able to re-live the very special exprience


  2. Peter. R. Warren

    Apart from the amazing photographs and anybody conform the identification Berkheya rhapontica. I wondered if it was B. echinacae


  3. Peter. R. Warren

    Just so the search engines can find it Zalunzianskya microsiphon should read Zaluzianskya microsiphon, that is not Zalunz… buth rather. Zaluz.. (No not sharp eye but dumb search engine in Red Data List.)


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    1. Nikki Brighton

      That certainly is interesting, Peter. I will edit the blog post to reflect both names and put the link to your iSpot reference. Isn’t it fascinating how often information and plants photographed by us humble midlands amateur botanists come up on searches? Really exciting actually to be contributing to freely available knowledge.


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