I went up to Rotary Way this afternoon in strong wind, unfortunately, so photography was difficult. The Micranthus alopecuroides was still looking good and there was one Moraea bituminosa (hard to identify, but the stickiness was the giveaway). There were also many Merciera leptoloba (which is white, but still has blue pollen!) and some Thereianthus bracteolatus, which was new to me. Perhaps the most spectacular scene was the massed display of Lanaria lanata, which are now in full bloom.
On the Orchid side, I was pleased to relocate an Acrolophia lamellata at the same site where we photographed one on 25 November 2014 – in fact I am convinced it is the same plant!
Looking at the flower head of a Nanobubon capillaceum, one sees only flowers, but photography allows one to look more closely and I was surprised to see no less than 23 insects in this picture – most of them ants. Callan, who walked with us yesterday, spoke of how shaking a plant can reveal a vast array of insects. Well, he was certainly right about that!
Showing the ants
When we found the Acrolophia lamellata yesterday, I was wondering why some of the flowers were seemingly knotted. Closer inspection of the flowers in question shows a Crab Spider has made a nest there and if one looks closely at the top flower, one can see a tiny spider, presumably its offspring, at the entrance to the nest.
Crab Spider with offspring (about 2 mm across)
No less than 12 orchid fanatics set out from Hermanus this morning at 6 o’clock to see what we could find in the burn in Fernkloof. These included Herbert Staerker and Callan Cohen, both experts in their field, so we were in very good company!
It was a perfect summer day with virtually no wind, although we welcomed the slight breeze to cool off a bit. We had not gone far when we came across a good specimen of Acrolophia lamellata, followed by a Holothrix cernua. Soon we were surrounded by Disa bivalvata and we must have seen thousands of them as we progressed our search for it’s near relative, Disa atricapilla. We found a few hybrids, before eventually coming across two small ones, suggesting that this is only the beginning for this species. Disa bodkinii, which was one of our targets was past its best and we only found a few old specimens, but we did see many Pachites bodkinii.
In total, we saw at least 18 different orchid species, which was pretty good, but most of us were well and truly finished after a 10 hour day on the mountain…..but it was well worth it, as nothing can compare to knowing that we were standing in fields of orchids enjoying a spectacle that we will probably never see again!
A miniature Cicada
Grasshopper on a Disa cornuta
Hybrid Disa (bivalvata/atricapilla)
Small grasshopper on Corymbium
Some grubby hikers
White Dilatris pillansii
Whilst out photographing the Orthochilus litoralis near my home, I was interested to find a Tritoniopsis that I had not previously seen. Sandy has seen it in the field and confirmed it as a Tritoniopsis dodii, although Lee still thinks it might be T. parviflora var. angusta. These plants can sometimes be quite trying, but they are so beautiful when viewed close-up!
Readers of this blog may not be aware that proposals are afoot to construct a new bypass road around Hermanus. Those who know Hermanus, however, will realise that the only ground available for such a project lies to the north of the town and is, therefore, in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve!
The can be no doubt that the Reserve is a precious resource and must be protected at all costs. Various endemics occur solely in the areas under consideration and I implore readers to join any proposed actions aimed at stopping this bypass. Imagine losing some of our magnificent natural heritage, just so that a few trucks can thunder past, polluting the mountain with their exhaust fumes and noise!
In the meantime, I will continue to bring news of exciting plants and animals to your notice whenever I can.
Erica hermani – one of the threatened species
I was interested to read in ‘The Cape Orchids’ that previously located specimens of this plant showed up to 9 flowers. This led me to take another look at my pictures taken on Friday and I was surprised to see that one plant, shown here, had around 13 flowers, in various stages of age. Small buds were not counted, so the plant may well have one or two more. This is obviously a very fine specimen! We saw around five plants at this site.
Disa bodkinii showing numerous flowers
Disa bodkinii – the same plant