Acrolophia ustulata revisited

Having been intrigued by the different colours displayed in a group of six Acrolophia ustulata, found in Fernkloof, we revisited there this morning to try to get better photographs.  At first we found 4 separate plants with dark maroon flowers, but could not locate the group of 6.  We spent half an hour searching, before eventually finding them right where I thought they should be!  It just shows how difficult it is to see these tiny plants.

Anyway, the upshot of it all was that we found no less than 10 plants in a small area of around 10 sq. metres, which was really exciting, and testimony to the fact that there are probably many more around.  Furthermore, we were able to conclusively show three distinct colours; maroon, yellow and brick-red, so were well pleased with our effort.

Respecting Symmetry

Who would have thought that a Monkey Beetle, whilst seeking nourishment in a wild Orchid, would arrange it’s hind legs so as to conform to the symmetry of the flower it is busy attacking.  Well, this one did and it looks, to the uninitiated, as if it is merely a part of the flower!

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Hunting Orchids Again

A walk in Fernkloof this morning produced a couple of good things.

The first was meeting up with two young lads from Cape Town, Odin and Juno (godly names, indeed!) who were also out looking for plants.  Odin’s main interest was Droseras and he showed a surprisingly good knowledge of these fascinating carnivorous plants.  He also had a keen interest in Orchids and together we hunted for and photographed some good specimens.  How nice to know that there are still some young people who see more to life than playing with their devices or watching TV!

The orchids seen included a good number of Acrolophia ustulata, both the dark maroon common ones as well as a plant with yellow flowers and another with brick-red petals.  Is this a new colour!  We also saw Holothrix brevipetala, the inevitable Disa bracteata, Disa cylindrica and Disa ophrydea

Pringle Bay Burn

The burnt area near Pringle Bay is awash with the most wonderful array of colourful flowers.  We went to see if we could find the rare Disa sabulosa, but were unsuccessful. We did, however, see a fantastic display of Watsonias, Wachendorfias, Pterygodiums, Gladiolis, Pelargoniums and much more.  It was a worthwhile trip!

Orchid Hunting at Barrydale – Day Two

Our day started with a visit to the Barrydale Information Centre, where we hoped to get directions to a nature reserve in the area.  There wasn’t one there, but the very helpful lady in the office contacted the local conservation officer who gave us permission to visit a portion of the mountain which had been burned in the pass.  This was great news, but there was more to come.

She put us in touch with Hildegard Crous, who propagates wild orchids in her own laboratory in Barrydale, so we set off to visit her.  This turned out to be a great move as she is doing fantastic work and had a number of interesting specimens at hand. She was very happy to show us around and we were very impressed with her knowledge and hospitality.  Years of patient work are starting to pay off and we saw the results of her dedication in the form of beautiful specimens of Disa barbata and Bartholina etheliae. She also showed us a couple of really spectacular Pelargoniums that she had grown.

We then proceeded to the Tradouw Pass again and this time into the burnt section of the mountain, where we immediately started to find Orchids.  We managed to identify Pterygodium acutifolium, Ceratandra atrata, Disa bivalvata and Disa reticulata, Evotella carnosum, Satyrium stenopetalum and Satyrium acuminatum. It was wonderful to be back amongst our favourite flowers!

There were, of course, many other wonderful species to see and we were well pleased with our day, and the entire Barrydale experience.  We had met some wonderful people and had achieved around 12 different orchid species, albeit that a few were well past their prime.  We also identified 58 bird species in the area.