While paddling my canoe on Kraaibosch dam in the Uilkraals Valley near Gansbaai last week, I noticed a bright splash of pink on the bank of the dam that I had never seen before. Being an inquisitive botanist I swung over to the bank and found the source of the pink splash to be this beautiful heather, Erica axillifora. Not only had I never seen it before, but it was also the first time that this species has been recorded in the area.
Erica axilliflora is a rare erica species that is very poorly known and undercollected. It has previously ownly been collected at Rietfonteinpoort on ferricrete soils closer to Cape Agulhas and its natural habitat is under threat. Fortunately this small population on the edge of the Kraaibosch Dam is now falling within a protected area that is being managed for conservation by Lomond Wines. The Lomond property covers some 800 hectares of land, of which approximately half will ultimately be cultivated for wine and some 400 hectares of valuable Overberg dune strandveld and Overberg sandstone fynbos has been set aside for conservation.
Lomond is actively involved in alien vegetation management and rehabilitation of fynbos on their property and are also active members of the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy.