A sweet red surprise – Tritoniopsis triticea and the Grootbos plant survey

We have been identifying the plant species on Grootbos Nature Reserve since the beginning of 1997. Initially I thought the plant survey would take a year or two to complete. How wrong I was! Original estimates from diversity models (based on size and number of habitats), predicted about 330-370 species on the Grootbos Reserve. Our initial intensive three month survey which covered the entire Reserve resulted in a species list of 250 identified plants of which 31 were species of conservation concern (vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered). So at the time we thought job nearly done. Well we kept exploring and the more we explored the more new plants we found for our list. The list grew through four hundred and when we reached five hundred species we enjoyed a big cake to celebrate. Then in about 2005/06 the new records slowed down and we thought we had reached the end.

rare plants on fynbos trailBut dry conditions and gale force winds across the Agulhas Plain in early February 2006  brought a massive wild fire that burnt the entire Reserve. Over the next twelve months we added no fewer that 70 new plants to our list – including two totally new to science that only flowered in the spring following the fire! One of these new species, Lachenalia lutzeyeri (pictured left) only flowered in the spring of 2006 following the fire and has not been seen since – no doubt waiting patiently underground for the next fire.

By the beginning of 2015 our indigenous plant species list on Grootbos has reached 768 species of which 99 are species of conservation concern! We have now realised that this project will never really be completed and there are still surprises that come along every now and then.

Tritoniopsis triticea on Fynbos HubToday was no exception. I was wondering through our blue gum woodlot on the Reserve – not a place I usually go botanising. And there all around me were these magnificent Tritoniopsis triticea (see left). Plant number 770 for our list.

While this is a fairly common plant in the Cape – growing from the Cape Peninsula and Porterville to Mossel Bay, we have never before recorded it on Grootbos. Simply because we have never happened to be wondering through the blue gum woodlot at the end of February or early March!

The lesson in short is that no quick-fire botanical assessment, as is so often undertaken to fulfil the environmental impact assessment requirements  for new developments, can hope to come close to identifying all the species in a fynbos habitat – no matter how good the botanist might be.

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Fynbos Identification courses coming up

Wendy Hitchcock’s popular Fynbos Identification courses are back – book now to secure your place and get to know how to identify our wonderful fynbos plants.


For more information see  Fynbos Plant Identification Courses

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Part-time employment for student: Exploring the Bio-edge

EB_Advert_for_Student_15_January 2015

Find attached a part time opportunity for a student to provide routine technical website assistance. Duties will include inter alia: i) uploading articles every two weeks; ii) sourcing appropriate scientific literature and photographs for articles; iii) proofreading; and iv) regularly updating social media platforms. The successful candidate will be able to conduct this job from their home/university.

Candidates are encouraged to visit www.explorebioedge.com.

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Whats flowering – Satyrium carneum

Every spring along the De kelders coastline we are treated to magnificent flowering displays of the rooi trewwa, Satyrium carneum. This year for some reason has been really special with literally thousands of these magnificent ground orchids in full flower.

Perhaps it was the good rains that fell steadily through the growing season of these plants. The only previous time we saw so many of these beauties flowering was the spring following the massive fire of 2006.

While I was wondering through the fields of bright pink Satyrium’s I came across one which really stood out with its unusual light pink, almost orange flowers. I have previously seen another natural variant with white flowers but this was the first time I came across one like this. Nature is really full of surprises!

Satyrium carneum on Fynbos TrailSatyrium carneum in full flower on Fynbos Trail






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What is flowering – Protea aspera and Leucospermum heterophyllum

Protea aspera - Fynbos TrailSpring has certainly sprung in the Overberg and we have had a magnificent week with beautiful warm weather. I have been doing lots of walking in the fynbos and taking in all the magnificent spring colours, smells and beautiful flowers. It also amazing how the birds seems to be in full song from first light – spring warmth and beauty is rejuvenating us all.

I was walking in some magnificent Overberg sandstone fynbos on a ridge-line overlooking Pearly Beach this week and came across some beutiful Protea aspera in full flower.

This is a rodent pollinated protea, hence its low, almost ground creeping growth form. Its prostrate growth form makes it easy for the little guys to reach into the flowers for a night time feast and then transfer pollen between flowers and act as an important pollinator.

A little way away on the same path I came across this beautiful ground creeping pincushion, Leucospermum heterophyllum (the tridentleaf  pincushion), another rodent pollinated species in the same family.

Leucospermum heterophyllum on Fynbos Trail

Spring is Protea meal time for rodents in the fynbos of the Agulhas Plain and a great time to explore and experience the regions magnificent floral diversity.


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Draft program for Fynbos Forum 2014 – Knysna

Dear Fynbos Forum colleagues,

Please have a look at the fantastic (draft) programme we have lined up for Fynbos Forum, 2014 in Knysna.

Please see attachment. There will be interesting workshops, great plenaries, loads of talks and posters, a disco night and some very exciting field trips (to be announced soon)

Draft Registration form Fynbos Forum 2014 -v2

Fynbos Forum Programme 2014 Final Draft NA 2


The cut off for early bird registrations was Monday 23 June 2014. You now have until 20 July 2014 to get your registration forms in and join this years forum.

A registration form is also attached for your convenience.We are up to full capacity for talks presentations  but posters may be submitted

Kind regards

Charles Stuart



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Waverley Hills First Annual Plant Fair


Waverley Hills is planning a unique Fynbos/Indigenous Plant Fair on their property in September. They are providing an opportunity for any local suppliers of fynbos or indigenous plants, suppliers of garden equipment and garden craft to showcase their products at the fair.

For more information see the attached flyer or contact Elizma Visser on 023 2310002

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Fynbos Identification course at Kirstenbosch

Wendy Hitchcock will be organising another of her excellent Intoduction to Fynbos identification courses from the 30 June -4 July 2014 at the Gold Fields Centre Kirstenbosch. The cost per participant is R2000.

For more information contact Wendy Hitchcock at Hitchcock@mweb.co.za


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Fynbos Forum 2014

Draft Registration form Fynbos Forum 2014 -v2  First Announcement Fynbos Forum 2014 -v2

Dear Fynbos Forum member,

Please note that the deadline for the submission of abstracts for the 2014 forum in Knysna was 4th June.


If you wish to submit an abstract PLEASE forward it to Nicky Allsopp at :  Allsopp@saeon.ac.za , as soon as possible.

Due to issues with maintaining and sending out circulars to a mailing list of over 2600 members, we have decided that the most effective way of making sure everyone gets the FF circulars is for individual members to subscribe to the newly created Fynbos Forum Group.


To carry on receiving circulars, please send an email to:
fynbosforum-subscribe@yahoogroups.com You will then get an email back from Yahoo Groups so that you can confirm you want to join (either by clicking a link or replying to the email).

Then save the following email address into your contacts list so that circulars don’t go into your spam/junk folder: <fynbosforum-noreply@yahoogroups.com>

If you want to have an email circulated to the group, please still send it to the secretariat at fynbosforum2014@gmail.com and the email will be sent on through the group.

Please open the attachments for the First Announcement and Registration Forms

Please send this message onto your colleagues as many people seem to have fallen off the list or have updated details.

Kind regards,

The Fynbos Forum Committee


Tessa Oliver
Project co-ordinator

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Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei fynbos nursery

Hi Sean, Thanks for the beautiful blog. I have enjoyed exploring it. I represent the “Friends of Zeekoevlei and Rondevlei” and I run a nursery that grows species from the Cape Peninsula from three veg types: Cape Flats Dune strandveld Cape Flats Sand plain fynbos Peninsula Wetlands Our mission is to promote the use of Cape Flats plants. We would appreciate it if you could add us to your list of fynbos nurseries. Our details are on our website (see below). Regards, Neil Major Nursery Manager Cape Flats Fynbos Nursery www.capeflatsfynbosnursery.co.za

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