Tag Archives: Endangered Wildflowers

Threatened Plant Species – Dierama pallidum

IRIDACEAE: Dierama pallidum [Vulnerable]

Dierama pallidum is a beautiful brightly colored plant found between Pietermaritzburg and Durban (Table Mountain, Valley of Thousand Hills, Mt. Vernon, Noodsberg and Inchanga). It grows on open stony and sandy grass slopes.

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family, Iridaceae. Botanists rarely (if ever) use common names for plants, however, various species of Dierama are loosely known by common names such as Fairy’s Fishing Rods, Fairy’s Wands, Fairy Bells, Wedding Bells, Hairbells, Harebells. You will have noticed their similarities which refer to the bell-shaped flowers on slender scapes that bend gracefully under the weight of the inflorescences, nodding in the wind.

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum by Richard Boon

Dierama pallidum consists of either a single stem or a few growing in close groups. They have few and reduced enveloping leaves (about 4) which arise so close to the base of the stem they almost appear to come from the roots.

They have flowering stems that grow between 500–1000 mm. The inflorescence hang, with the lowermost flower stalk growing about 200 mm long. Flowers are somewhat crowded (tip of each bract reaching to or nearly to base of second bract above it). Dierama pallidum can be seen flowering from October to March.

Dierama pallidum

Dierama pallidum

Bracts are about 20 mm long and 8 mm wide, narrowly egg-shaped and gradually narrowing to a long point on the tip, white with specks on midline and at the tip. Perianth (flora) is about 16 mm, tepals about 10 mm long and 5 mm wide, cream to pale yellow, rarely tinged pink or purple. Dierama pallidum is related to Dierama sertum, but can be distinguished by its white bracts where the veins diminish in the upper parts; flowers are crowded.

If you have seen this plant, please contact Mbali Mkhize, CREW programme: KZN Node Project Assistant m.mkhize@botanicalsociety.org.za

REFERENCE:

  • HILLIARD, O.M. AND BURTT, B.L. 1991. Dierama: The hairbells of Africa. Acorn Books, Johannesburg and London.
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Threatened Plant Species – Dierama luteo-albidum

IRIDACEAE: Dierama luteo-albidum [Vulnerable]

The genus name is derived from the Greek word dierama, meaning “funnel”, a helpful hint to the shape of the flower. Dierama luteo-albidum is a beautiful plant that appears to be confined to a very area of south central Natal growing in open grassland at altitudes of about 915−1700 m, from Nottingham Road to Pietermaritzburg.

r-spring-dierama-luteoalbidium1

Dierama luteo-albidum is readily distinguished from all other known species in Natal. They are solitary or in small clumps. The plant is 0.65−1 m long and is the fourth species of Dierama and first with whitish flowers.  The corm is densely covered with fiber tunic. Stems are long and drooping. Leaves have a cover at base, 3−4 leaves closely covering the stem and leaf bracts white to lightly flecked.

Dierama luteo-albidum flowers between October to December. Flowering stalks are very slender, and are closely sheathed to the lowest branch of the inflorescence by the leaves. Inflorescence (part of the plant bearing flowers and bracts) 2−5 branched, ± 5-flowered; about 80 mm. Perianth (floral organs) white, pale cream yellow, parallel sided and bell shaped.

Two species D. pulcherrimum and D. grandiflorum are similar to D. luteo-albidum. All of them have large bell-shaped flowers, but they all differ in the colour of the perianth.

Dierama luteo-albidum by Isabel Johnson

Dierama luteo-albidum by Isabel Johnson

They are unfortunately threatened by forestry and heavy grazing on grasslands.

If you have seen this plant, please contact Mbali Mkhize, CREW programme: KZN Node Project Assistant m.mkhize@botanicalsociety.org.za

References:

  • Hilliard, O.M. and Burtt, B.L. 1991. Dierama: The hairbells of Africa. Acorn Books, Johannesburg and London.
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Verd, I.1942. Dierama luteo-albidum: Flowering Plants of South Africa xxii. t. 845.

Threatened Plant Species – Asclepias woodii

APOCYNACEAE: Asclepias woodii [Vulnerable]

Local is lekker” which is why we love this month’s highlighted plant, Asclepias woodii, as it is only found in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, and mainly centred on the town in Howick.

Asclepias woodii by Christeen Grant

Asclepias woodii by Christeen Grant

Asclepias woodii are part of the Milkweed family, and they are a perennial herb. The stem is solitary, upright, up to 650 mm tall, often compressed, covered with scales or hairy scales. Leaves are usually in 4 pairs, growing upwards or almost upright, without or with short leaf stalk. Bracts are sharply pointed. Inflorescence produced in terminal pair.

Asclepias woodii flowers from November to January. Flowers 4−12, dark purple below. Leaf stalks 10−70 mm or when solitary up to 180 mm long, smooth to hairy. Corolla-lobes reflexed, spreading, egg-shaped, and pale green. Corona-lobes yellow, arising from the staminal column and equalling or slightly exceeding it, ending abruptly, rounded at the top and on the back.

It grows in unburned grassland, and it is threatened by habitat loss due to invasive alien plant infestation, frequent fires, overgrazing by livestock, and habitat loss due to plantations and development.

Photograph showing the entire plant, Asclepias woodii

Photograph showing the entire plant, Asclepias woodii

If you have seen this plant, please contact Mbali Mkhize, CREW programme: KZN Node Project Assistant: m.mkhize@botanicalsociety.org.za

References:

  • Brown, N.E. 1909. Flora capencis, Vol 4, 518.
  • Nicholas, A. 1999. A taxonomic reassessment of the subtribe Asclepiadinae (Asclepiadaceae) in southern Africa Volume 1. PhD thesis. University of Natal, Durban

David Clulow – Inspirational Environmental Champion

David Clulow: 02.10.37 to 28.10.2015

By Crystelle Wilson of Gramarye

“Where did you see that? What day was that, and what time? How many were there . . .?”

David clambering in the rocks on Sitamani

David clambering in the rocks on Sitamani

Over the years Boston residents have learned that it was not good enough simply to mention an interesting sighting in passing to David, especially when it came to all three crane species and Southern Ground-Hornbills.

During the 20 years or so that the Clulows lived in Boston they took an active part in community life and David was a leader in the Conservancy since its inception.

There has been a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes nesting in the pan adjacent to the Elands River on The Willows for many years. He began monitoring their breeding, which he recorded for the African Crane Conservation Programme of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), as well as other crane sightings in the district. In 2011, his efforts were acknowledged when he was made a crane custodian.

2015 Grey Crowned Crane family hatched on The Willows

2015 Grey Crowned Crane family hatched on The Willows

In February 2012 David called to say their neighbour on the other side wanted him to come and look at a strange bird on her lawn. When we got there, we found a day-old crane chick, which had somehow made its way from the nesting site through thick vegetation into the garden. David took the chick home overnight, feeding it ProNutro (chocolate flavour!). Tanya Smith of the EWT collected the bird the next morning and “Bossy-Boston” is now living at the Hlatikulu Crane Centre.

Tanya Smith and Bossy

Tanya Smith and Bossy

It was David’s idea to extend the listing of sightings on a monthly basis to all fauna and flora– an idea that was later adopted by the Midlands Conservancies Forum. When the Boston Conservancy ceased to operate on a formal basis in about 2008, David began compiling a list of sightings which he distributed to the locals. He would keep an ear out at gatherings at the Country Club or elsewhere for any interesting snippets. We firmly believe that David’s gentle badgering of people for their observations had led to an increased interest in the environment and a greater awareness of the need for the conservation of special areas.

Twané Clarke of the Karkloof Conservancy said: “David was an inspiration to all who had the delight in meeting him. His Boston Sightings newsletter was a monthly highlight to our inbox, and his dedication certainly paid off by encouraging other Conservancies to start taking inventory of what they were seeing too. These monthly sighting contributions are now being enjoyed by thousands of people in over 136 different countries worldwide. He was a team player and embraced the concept of Conservancies working together and motivating each other. We will miss him and his cheerful encouragement, but his legacy will live on.”

CREW: Barbara, Christeen and David in Impendle

CREW: Barbara, Christeen and David in Impendle

After retiring for the second time (first as a professor of accountancy, and then from dairy farming) he and Barbara spent more time pursuing their interest in wildflowers, and many happy hours were spent in the veld looking at plants and recording them for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW).

Isabel Johnson of the Botanical Society of S.A. said: “He was a special person. I will always remember how much fun we had looking for special plants at Edgeware, Impendle, Mount Ashley and so many other places. His great patience and good humour when I dragged him off on immensely boring grassland surveys. He was a fantastic ecological spy and gave us many helpful early warnings of what was happening in the Boston community and district. His monthly species reports have been an inspiration to a number of conservancies. David’s contributions to conservation were of huge value and will always be valued. I will miss him.

David and Barbara on Mt Edgeware in Boston

David and Barbara on Mt Edgeware in Boston

He began accompanying me on outings to do atlasing for the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2) and soon became hooked on birding. The Clulows and I had several adventures while exploring the areas between Boston and Bulwer, one involving a flat tyre which might be better not to repeat here. There are still a few pentads with a lack of data that we were planning to tackle soon. I don’t relish the prospect of doing it on my own. We also took part in the annual Cape Parrot count in the Boston area for the University of KZN. Sadly, on the last two counts we did, there were no parrots to report.

Cape Parrot count Nhlosane Ridge 2013

Cape Parrot count iNhlosane Ridge 2013

On a personal level I treasure the friendship between the Clulow and Wilson families over many years as neighbours. We received support and encouragement in many ways. I admired David’s enthusiasm for life, strong belief in justice and sharp sense of humour. He will be sorely missed.

Notice:
David Arthur Clulow, 2.10.37 to 28.10.2015. Husband of Barbara, father of Alistair and Megan, Suzie and Jared, much loved gramps of Noah, Fynn, Hannah and Nathan, brother of Jean and Sheila, passed away peacefully.
Memorial service at Gramarye, Farm 309 on the Everglades Rd, Boston, at 14h00 on Thursday 5 November. Open house at Clulow home in Amber Ridge on 11 November, 10h30 – 16h00.
In lieu of flowers suggest donations to the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Threatened Plant Species – Asclepias concinna

APOCYNACEAE: Asclepias concinna [Vulnerable]

The Genus Asclepias is named after Aesculapius, immortalised as a god of medicine in ancient Greek mythology. This Genus once belonged to the family ASCLEPIADACEAE (milkweed/butterfly weed family), but after undergoing a recent revision by taxonomists, it is now classified as a sub-family within the APOCYNACEAE family. 

Asclepias concinna is a perennial herb found in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands to Maclear, in annually burnt Montane grassland. This plant is potentially threatened by afforestation and rural settlement. It grows to about 325 mm long, slender, sparsely leafy, and hairy.

Asclepias concinna photographed by Barbara Clulow

Asclepias concinna photographed by Barbara Clulow

Leaves are upright, thin and hairy with short thin hairs, arrowing into a small petiole at the base with margins curled backwards and with short thin hairs.

Inflorescence umbel (usually a flat-topped inflorescence with the stalks arising more or less from a common point like an umbrella), adjacent to the base, stalked about 8 green and purple flowers.

Asclepias concinna flowers from October to December. Peduncle (lower unbranched stalk) upright, thin and with short thin hairs. Pedicels (stalk of individual flower) thread-like, half the length of the peduncle. Petals are compressed on the side towards the axis on which it is inserted, thin, short soft hairs; have woolly white hairs close to the edge of the side that faces away from the axis.

Sepals narrowly ovate and tapering to a point at the apex, sharp, with short thin hairs, half the length of the corolla. Corolla-lobes (second whorl of floral organs) egg-shaped to blunt, smooth with short thin hairs, margins with long soft, silky weak hairs. Corona-lobes (series of appendages on the corolla) white, smooth.

If you have seen this plant, please contact Mbali Mkhize, CREW programme: KZN Node Project Assistant m.mkhize@botanicalsociety.org.za

References:

  • Brown, N.E. 1909. Asclepiadeae. In: W.T. Thiselton-Dyer (ed). Flora Capensis IV Section I (Vacciniaceae to Gentianeae):518-1036. Lovell Reeve & Co., Ltd., London. (Asclepias concinna (Schltr.) Schltr.)
  • Nicholas, A. 1982. Taxonomic studies in Asclepias (Asclepiadeae) with particular reference to the narrow-leaved species in southern Africa. University of Natal.
  • Nicholas, A., Scott-Shaw, C.R., von Staden, L. & Victor, J.E. 2006. Asclepias concinna (Schltr.) Schltr. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2015/09/17

Threatened Plant Species – Hermannia sandersonii

MALVACEAE: Hermannia sandersonii (Vulnerable)

This wonderful low-growing shrublet, commonly known as umakotegoyile in Zulu, is named after John Sanderson (1820 – 1881) who was a journalist, plant collector, and honorary secretary of the Natal Agricultural and Horticultural Society. This vibrant plant is found in grasslands, Indian Ocean Coastal Belt, on steep slopes in silty sand. Its distribution ranges at Camperdown, New Hanover, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Umgeni and Glenside on the Noodsberg.

Hermannia sandersonii by Alison Young

Hermannia sandersonii by Alison Young

The shrublet is upright and multi-stemmed, with the stems partially divided into leaflets which are star-shaped with stiff hairs. The stems are about 204 mm with distant leaves about 40 mm long. The leaves are partially without a stalk, wrinkled, notched with teeth, star-shaped with long stiff hairs on the upper and velvety yellowish beneath. The flowers are in terminal clusters and very hairy. The roots are dense and woody.

Look out for this plant from September to March and please report these sightings to Suvarna Parbhoo, CREW programme: KZN Node Manager s.parbhoo@sanbi.org.za

References:

  • Harv. Flora Capensis (Harvey). 1:200.186
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wildflowers KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

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.