Thursday, August 28, 2008



I went on a ‘mesemb’ field trip with Matt Buys, a botanist, and his student Kush, who is also my roommate at the Fynbos Cottage. We were looking for Oscularia sp., Mesembryanthemaceae, a genus that Kush is writing her masters on, and that had not been revised in a long time. Several described species originally were collected with type specimen from locations all up and down Piketberg and Cederberg Mountain, and we found the shrubby plants all along the road growing in between the rocks, and hanging down steep cliffs. From the 15 or so locations we checked, supposingly come three different species, but Matt is very suspicious about this, and that’s what they are trying to figure out. Only very few were flowering yet, and as the relatively small, almond scented flowers are the most important criteria, this was much a preliminary survey.

Oscularia sp., note the red stems and keeled leaves

Flowers are pink to whitish with the stamens grouped together in the middle 

Cedarberg Mountains near Algeria

I enjoyed the outing a lot, sitting on the copilot seat I had the perfect opportunity to soak in the landscape without having to drive myself. The famous wildflower colors started to show in the most northern locations, and on our frequent stops I did perfect short mini escursions, taking in the flora.

Diplosoma retroversum, Mesembryanthemaceae, super rare!

Crassula muscosa

Arctopus echinatus, Apiaceae

We had a lovely picnic lunch on the banks of the Olifant River, and returned via the coast, ending back at Kirstenbosch by 7pm.
Matt and Kush

A perfectly great day with good company and lots of new information, but there was a sad ending to it. On our last stop I slipped in the mud, and landed hard on the rocky ground with my binoculars in my hand. Never mind that I got bruised, but I sevearly damaged my beloved tool. I now either see everything double, or have to use it as a monocular, which is not the same at all. I am trying not to be too pessimistic about the situation, and hope very much I can find a specialist in NY who would be able to fix the two monoculars I have now into a pair of binoculars again!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing pictures, it is indeed an amazing plant, they can be a source of excellent proteins.

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