The fires that swept through the Conservancy this year left vast areas looking bare and bleak. Add to that the fact that spring and summer rains continue to fall Elsewhere in Gauteng, bypassing our “droë driehoek” once again! (What attraction does Elsewhere have for the rains?)

It was thus an eye-opener to walk through the veld early in October with members of the Botanical Society of South Africa and discover the extraordinary variety of plants and flowers already appearing among the burnt grasses.

Prof George Bredenkamp (now retired from the Botany Faculty of Pretoria University) led the walk through Doornrandje and around Koppie-alleen.

Having experts around can be quite daunting, what with scientific names flowing freely. But they do help to train the novice's eye. After 22 years of walking many kilometres in the Conservancy veld, I was introduced to little treasures I'd never taken much notice of before: tiny, exquisite orange orchids, perky little “geelbiesies”, three types of bright yellow African Potato, one with a smart pin-stripe down the side of its leaves. And then there was the “underground tree” (Parnari capensis) which shows only a carpet of bright green leaves flat on the ground, with the actual tree spreading underground.

Some impressive speciments of Tolbos (Tumbleweed - Boophane disticha) were still around, having escaped muti-gatherers eyes. The size of the bulb indicates its age. There were great-grand-daddies of about 200 years old still around, showing their bright pink flower clusters. Long may they live...

Good news for those who could not make it this time – there will be another Veld and Flowers Walk next year.

Thanks to Tatz Junction for their generous free tea and coffee before the walk!

botanicalWalk

Boophane disticha, Hypoxis hemorocallidea, and Cyperus obtusiflorus var flavissimus

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