Tag Archives: aloe

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – June 2016

Jen Fly – Kildaragh Farm

All wildlife seems to be hibernating and as per usual, the Red-lipped Heralds are snugly coiled in the wood pile. We noticed 2 Common Reedbuck on our property – an unusual sighting these days! Good to see. They ran off onto Iain Sinclair’s farm.

Interesting birds have been seen in the garden: Green Wood Hoopoe, Wryneck, Oriole, Golden Tailed Woodpecker, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Malachite and Amethyst Sunbirds. A small flock of about 20 Helmeted Guineafowl scratch round in our pastures with numerous young. With the drought, it has been a good breeding season for them. We regularly see Black-winged Lapwings flying over on their food seeking missions.

In the veld we have noticed Natal Spurfowl, Cape Longclaw, and have heard the Common Quail with their gentle call.

An old Aloe arborescens, the Krantz aloe, that grows on one of our hill slopes is particularly beautiful this year. If you are frustrated with your garden in this season of drought, here’s what to plant!

Aloe tree

Andrew Pridgeon – Copperleigh Farm

Spotted a Secretarybird whilst driving past Selsley farm. We also spotted one on Knowhere farm earlier in the month whilst moving some cattle.

Wendy de Waal – Honeywood Cottage

Snake
Pat McKrill, Snake Country: “I’d go with your i.d. Ashley – Spotted Skaapsteker – although it’s not that clear. There’s a slim possibility of it being a Short-snouted Sand snake (grass snake, whip snake – I wish they’d make their minds up!) but we’d need a better pic. Still some activity on the warmer days. Yay.”

Pat & Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm, Lidgetton

A very quiet month. At the beginning of June we saw the Black Sparrowhawks hunting and eating pigeons every couple of days. We saw the female at the old familiar nest in the gum trees. She was either adding more material to the nest or feeding young we thought. Well that’s the last we have seen of them, so no idea what happened. With the dry dam we have seen no waterbirds – the crane have disappeared. Only hear the Jackal occasionally.

Black-backed jackal

Black-backed Jackal

We see the secretary bird and gymnogene now and then.

Secretarybird

Secretarybird

The odd Common (Grey) Duiker seen during the day. We saw a very small Reedbuck on one of our walks. When I drove around the farm today I saw 4 Common Reedbuck sitting in the pine trees away from the wind. Two were young females and 2 were young rams.

Sunrise

Sunrise

There are still a number of sunbirds about, feeding off the aloes and proteas.

Malachite male sunbird in eclipse

Malachite Sunbird (non-breeding male)

I think this could be a female malachite or juvenile sunbird

Malachite Sunbird

Greater double-collared sunbird in bush

Greater Double-collared Sunbird

I think this is a amythest male or female in eclipse or juvenile – not sure

Amethyst Sunbird

In the past few weeks about a dozen Weavers arrive at about 9am and descend upon the aloes in front of the house.

Weavers en masse

They have been destructive in the defoliation of the aloes – they pull off a petal,

Weaver pulled off aloe petal

place it beneath a foot, and suck out the nectar and then drop them on the ground.

Weaver holding aloe with her foot

They are also feeding off the tecomas,

Weavers eating the tecoma flowers

bottle brushes and pig ears.

Weaver feeding from pigs ear flowers

I think they are the non-breeding Masked Weavers but am sure someone will be able to identify them for me? So we only see the sunbirds very briefly as they get chased away by the weavers which is rather sad.

Weaver sitting on aloes

Another surprise is that the Sparrows are collecting feathers and going into their nest under the eaves of the house.

Sparrow carrying feather

Surely they are not thinking of breeding now? Perhaps they are just making it warmer!

Southern Boubou enjoying the sun – seldom seen on the lawn – they prefer to be hidden among the shrubs.

Southern bou bou enjoying the sun – seldom seen on the lawn – they prefer to be hidden among the shrubs

Southern Boubou

Well that’s all there is to report this month. It would be wonderful to get some rain or snow soon.

Nikki Brighton – Old Kilgobbin Farm

While I hear Spotted Eagle Owls and Wood Owls at night, I never come across the Barn Owls that moved into the owl box in the shed earlier this year. I do hope they have not eaten a poisoned rat. As last month, Jackal calls are still very scarce. Where are they? Very early one morning I met a big Porcupine while out walking and have come across lots of quills on various paths. I wonder, do they shed them more during Winter?

I found a Samango monkey skin and skeleton in the grassland,

winter monkey skin

and this dead Scrubhare beside the road.

winter dead hare

Not a lot in flower, but these little yellow daisies are so cheerful! The hairy, maroon coloured stems should have made it easy to identify, but I can’t find it.

yellow winter daisy

An unusually coloured Leonotis leonarus blooms beside the D707.

winter pale  leonotis

Grassland streams have stopped trickling altogether. Planted aloes are looking splendid.

winter aloe

David Schneiderman – Carlisle Farm

We went out on our farm Carlisle yesterday and we found 2 Waterbuck and 2 Reedbuck.

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

The water is still receding in Mavela Dam. The ducks, geese and other wildlife are walking through the mud and making little trails.

Mavela dam is very low and ducks and geese are leaving spoor in the mud

A very cold frog I found in one of the water troughs – aren’t they supposed to be hibernating?!

A very cold frog I found in the water trough - aren't they meant to be hibernating

Whilst doing our mandatory firebreaks with the neighbours, I quickly snapped a few pics of the aloes in the area

Aloes that were photographed on neighbours farm whilst we were doing mandatory firebreaks

Aloe 1

Aloe 2

Some burnt aloes, I’m sure by next year they will be looking beautiful once again.

Aloe in fire

Burnt aloes

Fires in the Dargle with Inhlosane watching from a distance

Firebreaks with Inhlosane in the background

We had a very cold weekend this past week, with bits of snow and sleet falling. Sunday morning we woke up to lots of ice on the edges of the dam, and beautiful little icicles forming and coming up through the mud.

Ice 008

Ice 009

Ice 011

Ice 014

Ice 016

Ice 006

Dargle Wildlife Sightings – July 2015

Pat and Sandra Merrick – Albury Farm

We have been spoilt this month by the visitation of a pair of wattled crane every few days. The one is ringed – Left leg: large white and Right leg: small red over small blue. Quite distinctive in the photo. The other one is not ringed but has a limp. This sighting will be reported to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Crane Programme.

A pair of wattled crane have been arriving at the dam every few days during the month. One has a white ring on his right leg and a red ring (upper) and blue on the other leg

A ringed Wattled Crane

The wattled cranes enjoyed wading at sunset amongst the egyptian and spurwing geese

The wattled cranes enjoyed wading at sunset amongst the egyptian and spurwing geese

The black sparrow hawks nest has been taken over by egyptian geese. I have seen them flying through the trees but not sure if they are going to build another nest in the gum trees like last year. Every night at sunset about 50 ibis (ha de das) stop at the dam to drink and then fly over the house in various numbers.

Lesser double collared male sunbird - the only time I have seen him in the garden

Lesser double collared male sunbird – the only time I have seen him in the garden

Found 2 dead Reedbuck at the dam. Not sure how they died as only bones left and little flesh.
Bees swarming a few weeks ago down the chimney which chased the owls away as have not seen or heard them since. For days lots of dead bees around the house.

This young male reed buck arrived on the farm a few weeks ago. The older resident male has been chasing him around the hills

This young male reed buck arrived on the farm a few weeks ago. The older resident male has been chasing him around the hills

9 Waterbuck still on farm and neighbouring farms. The day after the snow, they were lying up against the stone wall out of the wind, trying to keep warm.

Waterbuck

Waterbuck

One morning 9 wattled crane flew south over the house.

9 Wattled Cranes flew by

9 Wattled Cranes flew by

An african hoopoe been visiting our garden which is unusual.

African Hoopoe

African Hoopoe

One morning a frantic female duiker was running around the hills smelling the ground and following a scent – not sure if the jackal scent or perhaps the scent of her lost baby which had been taken by the jackal. This went on for 30 minutes and she kept returning to one particular spot in front of our farm gate. The next day 2 duikers were chasing each other around the farm – going at such speed could not see what sex.

Bokmakierie (Bushshrike)

Bokmakierie (Bushshrike)

A great sighting this month was a female sentinel rock thrush which is a first for us.

Female sentinel rock thrush (on barbed wire fence)

Female sentinel rock thrush (on barbed wire fence)

Cape Longclaws visit our garden every few days.

Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw

Saw black shouldered kite, crowned grey crane, blue crane only once.

A Black-shouldered Kite

A Black-shouldered Kite

There has been a lot of activity on our road and neighbours road with the aardvark digging huge holes. On the hill behind our house, there were distinct claw marks on the rocks where he tried to pull them out, trying to get to the termites beneath. We therefore asked Dr Amy Wilson (Shuttleworth) to bring up her trail cameras – we put 3 up on neighbour’s farm (Paul Smit) and after a week brought them back to our place and placed them up at the stone wall where there is a rickety old gate where the animals climb through. Unfortunately, we had no luck with pics for the elusive aardvark but plenty of other interesting sightings.

Male buff streaked chat getting a real soaking on a warm day

Male buff streaked chat getting a real soaking on a warm day

A very wet female buff streaked chat after a 5 minute bath

A very wet female buff streaked chat after a 5 minute bath

Rupert Powell Bukamanzi Cottage

With everyone hunkered down for the winter and not all that much on there is a lot more time for Wuthering Heights moments such as these, out on the hills:

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Sometimes the gloom can be more beautiful than the more obvious golden afternoons, I think. The same goes for lesser Dargle wildlife, such as the sociable spiders who have been busy in the grassland (Oh, hello Daphne! is that you?!)

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This great big hairy number got very sociable indeed, and fell out of a curtain in the cottage. I scooped her up and had a good hour photographing her on the verandah – she didn’t mind it a bit and stuck around for ages, showing off.

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Aside from arachnids I have also seen plenty of bushbuck and hares and the return of the weaver birds. I’ve been hearing woodpeckers recently and best of all, at about five-thirty every morning, two Crowned Cranes and their juvenile have been flying noisily over the roof of the cottage to visit the Stipstitches dam, and hold out their damp wings in the rising sun.

Before the frost hit us I also found this single flower, the only bloom for miles:

WS04

After the freak rainstorm of the 25th of July this is how glorious and clear everything looked the morning after the night before. Every blade of grass and every leaf shone as if someone had been at them with a cloth and feather-duster.

WS05

There is a lovely sleepiness to the landscape at the moment – if Inhlosane had eyes then at this time of the year only one of them would be open.

WS06

Helen and Barend Booysen – Crab Apple Cottages

Helen was the recipient of the Dargle Conservancy Trail Camera for a month, after she won one of the photography categories at the AGM. These are some of the pics captured…

Caracal

Caracal

Porcupine

Porcupine

Genet

Genet

Bushpig

Bushpig

Bushpig family

Bushpig family

Bushbuck ram

Bushbuck ram

David and Alvera Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Red-lipped Herald snake

Red-lipped Herald snake

Sunset 2 Sunset 1

Ashley Crookes – Copperleigh Farm

Sunset 2

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow Wildflowers

Yellow flowers coming up through the firebreaks

Yellow flowers coming up through the firebreaks

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Sunset over Mavela Dam

Red hot poker

Red hot poker

Red Aloes flowering in the hills

Red Aloes flowering in the hills

Orange Aloes flowering in the hills

Orange Aloes flowering in the hills

Inhlosane on the day it snowed in the Drakensberg

Inhlosane on the day it snowed in the Drakensberg

Ice on a puddle

Ice on a puddle

Frost on hay

Frost on hay

Frost in the sheep camp

Frost in the sheep camp

Nikki Brighton – Cottage at Old Kilgobbin Farm

Our baby owls have been learning to fly! Lots of crashing about the barn and hissing. This chap was not too thrilled when I climbed up a ladder to take his picture. I, of course, was delighted.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

Samango monkey troops spend late afternoons basking and playing in the sunshine on the forest edges. They pick and nibble at a plant in the grass – obviously just what they need at this time of year. They are also eating Vepris lanceolata berries. I enjoy watching them tumble about and listening to the sounds they make – squeaks and clicks, chattering and booming.

r samango family r samango vepris winter july 2015 099 r samango winter july 2015 072

I’m collecting a collection of winter colours and textures on my walks.

r winte walk colours 027 r winte walk bracken 054 r winte walk rhus 04 0 r winter textures dried leonotis r winter textures 034

r winter walk helichrysum

I have seen Oribi, Reedbuck and quite a few Duiker on my rambles. Lots of raptors, herons, red necked spurfowl and shimmering hadedas. Egyptian geese flying in formation and swimming on the dam.

r winte walk colours 091

An interesting stick insect on my verandah.

r stick insect winterJPG

The first of the grasshoppers to hatch (does this seem a tad early?)

r winte walk grasshoppers 044

The low light at this time of year makes everything seem extra magical,

r low light of winter july 2015

Crunchy leaves carpet the forest and fungi make good use of fallen branches.

fungi winter july 2015 132

Early one morning I spotted three men and seven dogs obviously out hunting. That was a little disconcerting. I reported to SACAN 083 799 1916 as soon as I got home.

r hunting with dogs

Threatened Plant Species – Aloe dominella

ASPHODELACEAE: Aloe dominella (Near threatened)

The vibrant Aloe dominella is a succulent plant that propagates on the rocky outcrops and hill slopes of central KwaZulu-Natal. It ranges from Escourt and Mooi River to Vryheid.

Aloe dominella photographed by Philip Nel

Aloe dominella photographed by Philip Nel

The stems grow in tight groups, hidden by dried leaves, and are about 150 mm long. The leaves are dull green, many, upright, expanding and gradually narrowing over a long distance. The inflorescence are simple, about 350 mm long, and capitate (like the head of a pin).

The flowers lack a stalk and are about 40 mm long and 80 mm wide. They are yellow, sweetly scented, and capitate. The bracts, which are reduced leaf or leaflike structures at the base of a flower, are egg-shaped and gradually narrowing to a long point, thin, dry and brown in colour. The perianth (corolla) is bright yellow, 18 mm long, and blunt to club–shaped. It is supported on a special stalk at the base.

Aloe dominella photographed by Philip Nel

Aloe dominella photographed by Philip Nel

Aloe dominella flowers in June to October. The flowering usually occur after fires followed by the rain. Aloe dominella is associated to Aloe chortolirioides var. woolliana in terms of growth conventions, such as the growth of stems in constricted groups and size of leaves’ rosettes, however, A. dominella is distinguished from A. chortolirioides var. woolliana by its flower size and colour. A. chortolirioides var. woolliana produces pinkish-reddish flowers about 40 mm long, while Aloe dominella produces yellow flowers of about 18 mm long.

If you have seen these naturally occurring plants, please contact Suvarna Parbhoo, CREW programme: KZN Node Manager s.parbhoo@sanbi.org.za.

References:

  • Van Wyk, B-E. and Smith, G. 1996. Guide to the aloes of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
  • Reynolds, G.W. 1938. Plate 36. A new Aloe from Natal. Journal of South African Botany. 4: 101-103
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wildflowers KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Boston Wildlife Sightings – May 2015

Crystelle Wilson – Gramarye

AT the beginning of the month it was great to host Dieter Oschadleus, the director of SAFRING, the South African Bird Ringing Unit. He put up mist nets in the wetland on Gramarye with the hope of catching weavers and widowbirds which are his special field of research.

Dieter with an African Stonechat

Dieter with an African Stonechat

In summer the place is alive with Fan-tailed and Red-collared Widows and Southern Red Bishops at their nests, but by now they were flocking and spending their time together feeding and flying to roosting sites at dawn and dusk. Frustratingly the majority of birds managed to evade the nets, but Dieter was still satisfied with his haul of 14 birds. These were: 1 African Stonechat, 1 Lesser Swamp Warbler, 1 African Reed Warbler, 2 Levaillant’s Cisticola, 3 Village Weaver, 4 Red-billed Quelea, 1 Southern Red Bishop and 1 Fan-tailed Widow.

Fan-tailed Widowbird

Fan-tailed Widowbird

Red-billed Quelea

Red-billed Quelea

Levaillant’s Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

When a bird has flown into the net, he removes it and place it in a cloth bag until it can be processed. Detailed measurements are taken and the bird is weighed on a tiny scale the size of a cellphone before being released.

C5

The birds weighed between 7 and 36 grams. A surprising discovery was finding a tick on the African Reed Warbler. Dieter removed it and placed it in surgical spirits to hand over to someone else who is doing research on ticks.

African Reed Warbler

African Reed Warbler

There were two unusual records this month. One was finding a Black Harrier working the grassland adjoining the Dargle road near Fairview, flying low, backwards and forwards in typical harrier fashion and clearly showing the diagnostic white rump.

Black Harrier

Black Harrier

Then I was surprised to hear Spectacled Weavers calling in my garden. I saw them for the first time in the district earlier this year building a nest at the Pickle Pot, and now they’ve paid me a visit as well.

Spectacled Weavers

Spectacled Weavers

It was good seeing a Lanner Falcon doing its job as a pest control officer,

Lanner Falcon with prey

Lanner Falcon with prey

while juvenile raptor plumages once again demonstrated its potential to confuse: at first glance it looked like a Cape Vulture flying overhead, but any lingering doubt was removed when the distinctive call of African Fish-Eagle sounded clearly.

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

Denham’s Bustard was seen on Four Gates during a very enjoyable walk to the cascades on the Elands River.

Denham's Bustard

Denham’s Bustard

On the rocks we saw prolific otter scat as well as a pair of recently hatched agama lizards.

Otter scats

Otter scats

The SABAP2 atlas list for the Elandshoek pentad 2935_3000: Greater Honeyguide, Denham’s Bustard, Olive Thrush, Black-backed Puffback, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop, Red-winged Starling, African Spoonbill, African Fish-Eagle, Red-throated Wryneck, Red-billed Quelea, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Grassbird, Spectacled Weaver, Southern Red Bishop, Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Hoopoe, Black Harrier, Drakensberg Prinia, White-throated Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Common Moorhen, Pied Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant,

Agama Lizards

Agama Lizards

Yellow-billed Duck, Three-banded Plover, Jackal Buzzard, African Olive-pigeon, Sombre Greenbul, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Glossy Starling, Southern Boubou, Village Weaver, Cape Sparrow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, House Sparrow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Speckled Pigeon, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Pipit, Levaillant’s Cisticola, African Darter, Black-headed Heron, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-capped Lark, Hamerkop, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-eyed Dove, Common Fiscal, Egyptian Goose, Fork-tailed Drongo, Spur-winged Goose, Grey Crowned Crane, Black Sparrowhawk, Cape Crow, African Stonechat, Dark-capped Bulbul, Helmeted Guineafowl, African Sacred Ibis, Bokmakierie, South African Shelduck, African Rail, Green Wood-hoopoe, Common Waxbill, Long-crested Eagle, Cape Wagtail, Cape Robin-chat, Hadeda Ibis, Cape Canary, Amethyst Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, Greater Striped Swallow.

C12

Cascades on the Eland’s River

The Grey Crowned Cranes raising their one surviving juvenile has been an education. At 16h55, as I set out for the walk, I heard them calling from the dam and went haring around the corner to the paddock. They were walking next to the dam, feeding. Junior found a stick amusing and picked it up, dropped it and picked it up again. Then the parents began dancing, and tried to include him too. He’s not quite as adept yet, but did his best. At 17h13 they all three took off and flew across the river and landed in the green field below the pivot on Netherby. At 17h23 they returned and the parents settled in the tree on the dam, but junior flew around the tree a few times and then disappeared. I couldn’t see where it went.

Barry Cromhout of “Highland Glen”

African Fish-Eagle near “Elandsvlei”; Black Ducks on dam at “Highland Glen” with four chicks; Grey Crowned Crane on dead tree on “The Willows”.

David and Barbara Clulow, visiting from 29 May to 31st

30 Grey Crowned Cranes on a pasture at Melrose; four Denham’s Bustards, walking in stubble maize lands on Netherby; Black-headed Herons on The Drift dam; Blacksmith Lapwing on The Drift; masses of Cape Crows; garden birds galore; Duiker on The Drift; Reedbuck on The Willows; Stonechats, Hadeda Ibis and Fiscals; Sacred Ibis; Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese; Red-knobbed Coot.

Forest Buzzard

Forest Buzzard

Frances Nel on “Four Gates”

Four Southern Ground-Hornbills on two occasions.

Sitamani Sightings – Christeen Grant

May this year has been a long extension of autumn, an “Indian Summer”; clear, cool days with cloudless blue skies. We’ve had virtually no rain at all and as it’s been dry also not had the usual frost by mid-May. Underneath the yellow gold grass seed heads the leaves are still green.

02 Cover IMG_3203

I have been away most of May so haven’t explored far from the house to see which plants are flowering. Every winter I look forward to the showy snowy-white candyfloss flowers of the Buddleja auriculata.

Buddleja auriculata

Buddleja auriculata

Buddleja auriculata

Buddleja auriculata

The bright yellow Senecio polyanthemoides shine on the edge of the lawn

Senecio polyanthemoides

Senecio polyanthemoides

Senecio polyanthemoides

Senecio polyanthemoides

and star like Euryops laxa pop up between fallen leaves.

Euryops laxa

Euryops laxa

An insect buzz in the Halleria lucida trees signals the opening of the bright red flowers growing straight off woody branches without stalks.

Halleria lucida

Halleria lucida

Aloe maculata buds are starting to open up.

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

Aloe maculata

Birds are relishing the two birdbaths. One is on our verandah and late one afternoon I spotted a Cape Batis flitting up into the branches overhead. A courting couple of Black-backed Puffbacks were in display mode. The Afrikaans name Sneeubal aptly describes the pompom white ball of feathers on the male’s back. Three Buff-streaked Chats sat sunning on hillside rocks, a bit far off for a good photo.

Buff-streaked Chat

Buff-streaked Chat

The Speckled Pigeons are rearing yet another brood, two downy heads peep over the nest in the garage. The parents take well-deserved rests on the roof.

Speckled Pigeon

Speckled Pigeon

In the orchard bared branches reveal an arboreal Ants nest and Lichens.

Ants nest

Ants nest

Lichen

Lichen

Many Bees and Hoverflies zoom into the few flowering plants. Not many moths about at the moment.

Hoverfly

Hoverfly

A beautiful male Reedbuck is often seen grazing near the house in the early mornings and evenings. Two duiker, three Reedbuck and a Black-backed Jackal were on the driveway one evening when I returned home.

Winter Walks in World’s View

A party of five went on a CREW outing to World’s View recently. Some of the grasslands in the conservancy had been burned several weeks ago and it was a good time to see the early emerging plants. Rogan Roth took this pic of the group.

Crew party

Alison Young compiled this report and took the rest of the pictures.  Lots of magnificent Boophone disticha (Seerooglelie) were in flower. They flower much better after a fire. The Afrikaans name refers to the effects the pollen has if you get it into your eyes.

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Bright yellow Gnidia kraussiana plants brighten up the burnt veld in early spring.

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Rotheca caerulium or Wild Violets waiting to burst into bloom.

IMG_5105 Rotheca

Helichrysum alloides in bud.

IMG_5061 Helichrysum alloides or coriceum

Lots of Merwilla kraussii or Dwarf Scillas on the rocky crags above the grassland.

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A winter flowering Moraea hiemalis which flowers for a short spell in July.

IMG_5126Then on 31 July, Howard Richardson led the inaugural regular walk that World’s View will be hosting on the last Thursday of every month.

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The howling wind didn’t deter anyone as they set off to explore the grassland. IMG_0816

Among the plants they spotted was Aloe maculata Common Soap Aloe

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Many participants were astonished to discover this little know piece of wilderness right on their doorstep.

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Don’t miss the next World’s View Walk on 28 August – book your place with Howard on 083 591 0079. Donation R20 to world’s View Conservancy.

 

Midlands Wildflower for July – Aloe maculata

Common name: Soap Aloe, Zulu names: icena, amahlala, Sotho name: lekhala, Afrikaans name: Bontaalwyn

r aloe maculata grasshopper

Winter days are not particularly dreary in the Midlands, however a splash of orange in the faded grasslands is always delight. Aloe maculata, can be relied on to provide that. The flat-topped inflorescence can have many branches, each topped with flowers ranging from red, through orange to yellow. Young buds are erect with older flowers drooping.

Plant Aloe Maculata Soap Aloe yellow form

The broad, recurved leaves are triangular shaped and this aloe usually has no stem, although a short stem does form over a long period of time. The leaves have brown teeth along the margin and are spotted (maculata means ‘splotched’), making them pretty easy to identify even though they occur in a variety of habitats – including rocky out crops, open grassland and thicket.

Plant Aloe maculata Soap Aloe red form

In traditional medicine, crushed leaf infusions are used as enemas following the use of other purgative medicines. Reports include use of stems and leaves, in powdered and infusion form, as cleansing agents after the ingestion of too much food, alcohol or narcotics.   This plant is the logo of the Mpophomeni Conservation Group – where it is flowering profusely at the moment, despite being burnt.

r mpop walk winter aloe maculata

Why not join the regular walk on the second Tuesday of each month, to explore Mpophomeni grasslands for yourself? Book with Penelope Malinga 0084 226 5227 Donation R20 to MCG.

Thanks to Penelope Malinga, Christeen Grant and Nkululeko Mdladla for the photogaphs.

mpop logo final