Life is fast. Extremely fast! Life is often a day-to-day scramble merely to keep up to date with our own lives, let alone with the flurry of changes and events in the local and global arenas. Regimes, circumstances, the economy and relationships are subject to change at the drop of a hat. Fire, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters add pressure to the present and contribute towards uncertainty for the future.
Acknowledging long-serving staff members
Your best shot
Making a difference where it counts
Feeding hungry bellies and interested young minds
Loving our NBGs
Care for tea with Mother Nature?
Wetlands and Biodiversity resource packs
Honours and Awards
MyPlanet call to action
Obituaries: BotSoc remembers
Every year, close to a million visitors admire and enjoy the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (NBG) plant collections. Kirstenbosch, which is divided into broad sections including the Dell, Fynbos, Trees and General Garden, is the public showcase for these plant collections. Visitors amble through themed areas such as the renowned 'Annual' displays, the Pelargonium Koppie, the Protea- and Erica Gardens, and browse information in the 'Waterwise', 'Birds and Butterflies', 'Fragrance' and 'Garden of Extinction' demonstration gardens.
South Africa is often thought of as 'well-explored' and 'well-studied'. The exciting thing is that it's not - especially if you add 'biodiversity' and 'mountains' to your search engine. The Cape Midlands Escarpment, for example (comprising the Sneeuberg, Great Winterberg-Amatholes and Stormberg, mostly in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa) has seen numerous plant discoveries and rediscoveries since 2005. This has been the direct result of focused biodiversity exploration in this region.
Setting the scene: The cycad fossil record dates back to the early Permian (280 million years ago) and possibly the Carboniferous (320 million years ago) making them the world's oldest extant seed plants.
Research is critical to understand the world in which we live and to maximise its benefits to society. Scientists conduct research to satisfy their curiosity, advance knowledge and address important problems. Citizen science is a term for research where anyone can be a scientist and there are several citizen science projects in South Africa. Participating in these projects provides educational benefits including skills for data collection, critical thinking, and scientifically-informed decision-making.
Ferns or Pteridophytes are a group of primitive plants. It includes the familiar fern with its graceful fronds, but also encompasses a great diversity of fern-like plants that grow in a variety of habitats from shady, damp forests to deserts. Like Mosses and Liverworts (Bryophytes) they have no seeds, flowers or fruit, and reproduce by means of spores. They grow mostly on dry land but they still need water in order to reproduce. Unlike Bryophytes, they have a vascular system (specialised tissue for transporting water and nutrients - xylem and phloem).
"Kom kyk! Kom kyk! Dis Spathularis!" (Look! Look! It's Spathularis!). My colleagues and friends, Marinda and Pieter, were looking for a way down the mountain and back onto our planned route to Eksteenfontein, while I was sitting with a GPS and Cape Colony Reconnaissance Series map (printed in 1907) trying to determine where we were. The track we had followed for the best part of the day had got smaller and smaller and eventually stopped at the top of the mountain. We were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a species that was last seen by Drège in 1830!
The plants of the dry forests of southern Madagascar are among the strangest growth forms of any in the world. Besides the astonishing Baobabs and Bottle Trees, you will see many shrubs with thin, often intertwined twigs with widely scattered small leaves. Try pulling them and you will be astonished at their tensile strength. Let the branch go and they spring back into shape. These are 'wire plants' designed to resist browsing by Elephant Birds which roamed these landscapes until a few centuries ago.
The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany (MPA) Hotspot is an internationally recognised centre of floristic diversity and endemism on the eastern seaboard of southern Africa. Land transformation and degradation threaten many Species of Conservation Concern in the region and approximately half the threatened plant taxa in the MPA Hotspot are KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Eastern Cape endemics. Conservation efforts have focused primarily on the large mammals and birds but the conservation of plants, vegetation types, small mammals and invertebrates, has historically been neglected.
CREW KZN node recently hosted the annual summer-rainfall region workshop at the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge in the northern Drakensberg. The success of this four-day event was evident in the positive vibe and great enthusiasm. As a workshop venue, the Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge was very close to perfect, with a full view of the mountain range and all its natural beauty. Peace and tranquillity was just a bonus.
All Botanical Society members will be aware of the threats posed to our indigenous flora by Invasive Alien Plants (IAPs). What is less well known is the threat to our plants posed by invasive insect and fungal pests. On a recent field trip in the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, the Pondoland CREW group was made aware of the threat posed to our indigenous and - more seriously - our endemic Eugenia species, by Prof Jolanda Roux and a team of young researchers from the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI; www.fabinet.up.ac.za) based at the University of Pretoria.
The BotSoc Branches are formed by members who support the mission and objectives of the BotSoc. Members are automatically affiliated to their nearest branch, and activities are mainly driven by volunteers who organise talks, walks, awareness campaigns, CREW outings and fundraising.
What can I say? I have always been hooked on these BotSoc Wildflower Guides. I own most of the published series and most of the editions from each series. Plant names change, sometimes even plant families change. For those who don't yet know, most 'vygies' are now considered to fall taxonomically into the family Aizoaceae, including the 'type genus' Mesembryanthemum, which is a little awkward because the family descriptor, 'mesembs', still trips so lightly off my tongue.
Since this book couldn't possibly describe each of the over 100,000 South African insect species, the authors illustrate each insect order with one or more examples of typical species from insect families within each order. This highly accessible format, aided by a pictorial guide to the different insect groups and descriptions of how insects differ from other arthropods, still covers well over 400 insect species. The introduction includes a short description of a typical insect life cycle and explains the importance of insects in global ecology.