Walk Report – April 2018

Botsoc Kogelberg Walk Report
– By Tim Attwell (17th March 2018)

After a series of more challenging walks, the intention was to take this one easy with a botanical ramble in the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, go slow and easy up the Bobbejaanskop path and hopefully see the last of Nivenia stokoei near the top. There was also the possibility, lower down in more sandy areas, of coming across Nerine sarniensis and other Amaryllidaceae such as Haemanthus, Brunsvigia and Ammocharis, not an unreasonable expectation, it being the month of March, after all.

Nivenia stokoei, the intended star of the show
Nerine sarniensis, another intended show stopper


But ‘things don’t always turn out as planned’ – as the saying goes. Yes we did find some Haemanthus dotted around in the Erica bed, and we did find Brunsvigia orientalis where it should be, in the section of the Gardens showcasing dune vegetation. Of Ammocharis longifolia there was no sign. Nerine sarniensis? Nope, nothing. It turns out that our timing was off. A week after our walk the Nerine show got under way in the Gardens. We have only ourselves to blame for missing the Nivenia stokoei. The decision not to slog all the way to the top of Bobbejaanskop to see them was unanimous.

In our defence, it wasn’t merely our reluctance to breathlessly slog up the zig zag path that led to that decision. It was the spectacular show of Erica species that swathed the mountainside in purple and the identification puzzles they posed that absorbed us. For example, which is which? We couldn’t be sure.

A hand lens and a good guidebook are indispensible at times like this. Happily the similarly purple to pink Erica multumbellifera was easier to spot; little orbs, ‘broadly urn shaped’ according to John Manning.

Erica multumbellifera

We became quite good at identifying Erica corifolia. After a while one’s ability to pay attention to detail becomes acute – like noticing how the leaves on E. corifolia are adpressed to the stem and the sepals develop dark tips. But you have to keep your wits about you to know your Erica tenella from your Erica pulchella.

Hopefully you will understand why we didn’t go all the way to the top of Bobbejaanskop.