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Pokers of South Africa

An expedition report by Christopher Whitehouse


Christopher Whitehouse with Kniphofia gracilis at Treasure Beach, Durban


Contents Introduction and objectives Itinerary & map of route Karoo Fynbos Eastern Cape Grassland Afromontane Forest Eastern Cape Drakensberg Southern Drakensberg Coastal Kwazulu-Natal Northern Drakensberg Free State Escarpment Mpumalanga Escarpment Species seen •Kniphofia albescens •Kniphofia albomontana •Kniphofia angustifolia •Kniphofia baurii •Kniphofia breviflora •Kniphofia caulescens •Kniphofia ensifolia •Kniphofia evansii •Kniphofia fluviatilis •Kniphofia galpinii •Kniphofia gracilis

•Kniphofia hirsuta •Kniphofia ichopensis •Kniphofia laxiflora •Kniphofia linearifolia •Kniphofia multiflora •Kniphofia northiae •Kniphofia parviflora •Kniphofia pauciflora •Kniphofia porphyrantha •Kniphofia rigidifolia •Kniphofia ritualis •Kniphofia splendida •Kniphofia stricta •Kniphofia triangularis •Kniphofia tysonii •Kniphofia uvaria •Hybrids Publicity Achievements and difficulties Budget Acknowledgements Bibliography Appendix: List of flora Appendix: List of animals


Christopher on top of Mount Sutherland, Bushman’s Nek


Introduction and objectives

My research into Kniphofia began as long ago as 1996 while working at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew on the Flora of Tropical East Africa. I was asked to write up the account of Asphodelaceae and the most significant genus in the family for East Africa was Kniphofia. I was fortunate to visit Tanzania the following year, where I saw many of the tropical African species in their natural habitat which was valuable in interpreting the herbarium material that I was studying. My interest was reignited in 2007 when the Royal Horticultural Society began a trial of Kniphofia to assess the cultivars and species in cultivation for the Award of Garden Merit. This trial showcased 120 entries, of which 16 were considered to be species. It was evident from the trial that several of these so-called species were wrongly named; either the wrong species or showing evidence of hybrid nature. On account of this, I realised that my own knowledge of the species was far from complete and so the idea began of organising an expedition to see the species in the wild. The objectives for my expedition were as follows: 1. To find as many species as I could in the wild, preferably in flower. This would give me an understanding of the habitat requirements of the species, thus enabling me to convert this into knowledge of the best requirements for the plants in cultivation. 2. To observe different populations of those species, so that I could see the variation encompassed by the species. Very often only a single clone of a species is cultivated, so that when new introductions occur people believe it cannot be the same species. By observing the natural variation of a species, one can understand whether the variation in cultivation belongs to that species or is caused by hybridization. 3. To look for occurrences of natural hybrids. It is known that Kniphofia hybridize readily in cultivation but only a few hybrids are reportedly naturally. I was keen to find out if this was genuinely the case or just under-reported. It would also help me to understand how species hybridize with each other and how characters are shared in hybrids. 4. To build contact with other Kniphofia experts. Although I had had some contact with Dr Ramdhani and Dr Baijnath regarding Kniphofia in the past, I was keen to establish stronger links with these experts in the genus. While these were the immediate objectives of the expedition, I have a longer term goal to produce a book on Kniphofia in cultivation. Kniphofia have never been treated properly as a garden plant. In the past, only short articles have been produced on the genus from a horticultural perspective. While I will leave the revision of the South African species to the experts in that country, it will be important to have a chapter in the book highlighting the species that occur in cultivation. It is hoped that this expedition will form the basis of that chapter.


Route of expedition starting at Johannesburg, overnight locations indicated by green circles. Inset: Car on descent from Naude’s Nek near Rhodes


Itinerary

My time in South Africa was limited to three weeks on account of work and family commitments, which led to a punishing schedule. The trip covered almost 5,500km of driving and was based upon driving to a locality known for Kniphofia, spending a day exploring the area, then moving on the next day. The routes taken in between were chosen to increase the chance of seeing more populations on the way. However, as the distances were often great, the deviation from the most direct route was often kept to the minimal. 23 January 2012 – 14 February 2012 Jan 23 – Leave Heathrow Airport Jan 24 – Johannesburg airport to Colesberg, Kuilfontein Farm 661km Jan 25 – Kuilfontein Farm, Colesberg 7km Jan 26 – Colesberg to Joubertina 545km Jan 27 – Joubertina to Hogsback, King’s Lodge 445km Jan 28 – Gaika’s Kop & Tor Doone, Hogsback 28km Jan 29 – Hogsback to Rhodes, Walkerbouts Inn 429km Jan 30 – Tiffindell & Ben McDhui 48km Jan 31 – Rhodes to Bushman’s Nek, Elton Farm 408km Feb 1 – Mount Sutherland 0km Feb 2 – Bushman’s Nek to Durban 371km Feb 3 – Durban & the Botanic Gardens 164km Feb 4 – Durban to Highmoor, Heronmoor Retreat 232km Feb 5 – Highmoor 42km Feb 6 – Highmoor to Cathedral Peak, Didima Camp 144km Feb 7 – Cathedral Peak 0km Feb 8 – Cathedral Peak to Oliviershoek, Dumbe 119km Feb 9 – Dumbe 131km Feb 10 – Oliviershoek to Buffelskloof Private Nature Reserve 529km Feb 11 – Lydenburg area 212km Feb 12 – Piet Retief area 588km Feb 13 – Buffelskloof Private Nature Reserve to Johannesburg airport 354km Feb 14 – Arrive Heathrow Airport The following pages summarise my trip based upon habitat types or biogeographic areas that I covered in my visit. More details on the Kniphofia found in these areas follow under the particular species.


Top: View over Kuilfontein Farm near Colesberg; Bottom left: A few ferns such as this Cheilanthes eckloniana can survive in this arid climate; Bottom right: Ammocharis coranica by the road down to the Langkloof


Karoo (Colesberg, Kuilfontein Farm) Following an eight hour drive straight after getting off the plane, my first stop was in the Great Karoo at Kuilfontein Farm. Karoo is a harsh landscape, generally flat but with small koppies (rocky hills) dotted around to break up the monotony. It is arid and what rain falls is not particularly seasonal. The vegetation is on the whole a low-growing shrubby flora, interspersed with succulents and annuals, which flower after sufficient rain. Despite its flatness, there is variation in the vegetation based upon underlying soil type, and moisture. The koppies provide protection from grazing animals as well as shade from the rocks. The few larger shrubs which grow here also provide similar qualities so that other plants grow up in their protection. My exploration of the Karoo was focussed on finding a population of K. ensifolia. In this area the species was restricted to the seepage areas beside a stream that ran through the farm. This was also the best area for other flowers, as several small herbaceous or bulbous plants were flowering here too, e.g. Lobelia and Sebaea. In the normal karoo, flowers were few – occasionally a member of the Aizoaceae. However, around rocky outcrops, the larger shrubs increased and amongst them succulent and herbaceous perennials such as Asparagus, Crassula and even Dianthus. Although I had a full day to explore the farm, this was my first day after landing, and clear blue skies and high temperatures meant that I spent the middle of the day sheltering from the heat, using only the morning and evening cooler times to look around. Most of the journey was through the Karoo as I headed south the next day. From the height of Lootsberg Pass down towards Willowmore, the vegetation was still low-growing and shrubby but the composition changed considerably. It was also interesting to see how patchy the flowering of the Karoo was. Where there had been sufficient rainfall recently, there were a number of interesting flowers such as Bulbine, Ammocharis, Hermannia and Sarcocaulon, but other areas looked as barren as the drier parts of Colesberg. Kniphofia seen: K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia

Map of Kuilfontein Farm and route covered


Prince Alfred’s Pass and Outeniqua Mountains; Insets: two key elements of fynbos are ericas and proteas, on this pass represented by Erica densifolia and Protea mundii


Fynbos (Langkloof between Joubertina and Humansdorp) The Western Cape border of the Langkloof represented the start of my expedition in earnest (Colesberg had just been a convenient stopping point on my way south). The fynbos habitat is the pride of the Western Cape and responsible for a large proportion of the amazing diversity found within the Cape Flora Kingdom. It is a fire-dependent habitat, fires sweeping through every 5 to 50 years. The shrubby flora has adapted to this regime, as has most of the herbaceous flora. Indeed, many of the geophytic plants only flower well after fire. This is the case for some forms of Kniphofia uvaria, although fortunately the plants I found still had a few spikes. The fynbos is the habitat I am most familiar with, having spent almost 5 years exploring it for my PhD on Cliffortia (Rosaceae). The diversity of the fynbos diminishes as one heads east, so the part I explored around the Langkloof has fewer endemics than similar areas to the west. It nevertheless has the usual components of Ericaceae, Proteaceae and Restionaceae, which define fynbos. Some of the best areas I saw on this trip were the wetter fynbos of the Kareedouw and Prince Alfred Passes. However, I did not spend long in any of these places as Kniphofia are generally rare and scattered in the fynbos – in all my years exploring the fynbos, I only found Kniphofia on a couple of occasions. Kniphofia seen: K. uvaria

Route through the Langkloof from Joubertina


Many well-known garden plants grew at Gaika’s Kop such as Dierama pulcherrimum (above), Eucomis autumnalis (top right), and Berkheya purpurea (middle right), as well as lesser known plants such as Schizocarphus nervosus (bottom right)


Eastern Cape Grassland (Hogsback) The highlands of the Eastern Cape are one of the top habitats for Kniphofia, especially those now grown in British gardens. Apart from high altitude, it also has more or less all year rainfall and is not too tropical. The grasslands around Hogsback are amazingly diverse and rich. It was an excellent time to be visiting too, with wonderful displays of flowers, many familiar to British gardeners, such as Agapanthus, Eucomis, Diascia, Geranium, but also many less well-known: Schizocarphus and Bulbine. This was my first big hike of the trip too; to climb to the top of Gaika’s Kop (although thanks to good advice I was able to get a reasonable way up by car first). There is no official path up Gaika’s Kop but enough people have climbed it in the past that there is a rough route along the fence line and then up the ridge. Nevertheless towards the top, it is mostly a scramble over rocks. The peak is a small plateau, with a seepage area that dips to the north (the habitat for the form of K. uvaria that grows there). The most remarkable thing about this plateau was the number of orchids that grew there – there were 6 different species in a very small area, all looking their best at that time of the year. Moving north from Hogsback the grassland appeared less diverse but this was probably more an element of the speed with which I was passing it. I suspect if I had found more time to stop and explore I would have found a similar diversity of plants. Kniphofia seen: K. linearifolia, K. northiae, K. parviflora, K. triangularis subsp. triangularis, K. uvaria

Route of ascent of Gaika’s Kop


Forest in Rainbow Gorge, Cathedral Peak

Top: Streptocarpus gardenii Bottom: Begonia sutherlandii


Afromontane Forest (Hogsback and Cathedral Peak) Hogsback is probably more famous for its forests than its grasslands. The escarpment contains wonderful forest that is still in a good condition (much of the forests in the Cape were harvested in the past for timber). This was one of two areas where I had a chance to explore these forests, the other being at Rainbow Gorge when I arrived at Cathedral Peak. The afromontane forests are not Kniphofia habitat, so both these excursions were tagged onto days where I had already achieved my objectives in hunting Kniphofia. Despite the high altitudes, this habitat is generally frost-free and it was interesting to note that many of the familiar herbaceous plants one saw are more commonly known as houseplants in this country: Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’, Begonia sutherlandii, Streptocarpus gardenii, S. rexii and Plectranthus species. The only notable exception to this was Eucomis bicolor, but this was also spotted at much higher altitudes in full sun, so it is clearly an adaptable plant. Compared to the grasslands, the forests are relatively poor in diversity but it made an interesting alternative excursion and break from hunting Kniphofia.

Route through Hogsback forest to The Big Tree (Gaika’s Kop in background)


Top left: Tiffindell from summit of Ben McDhui Top right: Euphorbia clavarioides, a surprising succulent at this altitude Bottom left: Bastervoetpad, a rough road that passes through a beautiful valley of flowers Bottom right: Craterocapsa congesta, a small cushion forming member of the bellflower family that only occurred near the summit of Ben McDhui.


Eastern Cape Drakensberg (Tiffindell and Naude’s Nek) Although the Drakensberg continues to rise as it enters KwaZulu-Natal, this was the part of the trip where I reached my highest altitudes. In particular, I had a very exhausting climb up Ben McDhui to the highest point in the Eastern Cape (3001m). Admittedly, I started at just over 2600m, but whether the air was very thin at that altitude or I was still acclimatising, it was a very tough climb requiring stopping every few metres to catch my breath. Fortunately, there were a number of Kniphofia as well as other interesting plants on my ascent to slow me down sufficiently and ensure that I did reach the summit intact. The vegetation around here is alpine, covered by snow for a number of days each year (South Africa’s only ski resort is on the slopes of Ben McDhui). The grass is short and moisture is common throughout the year from precipitation and cloud. Although many plants are dwarf species of relatives found at lower altitudes, some genera produce larger forms at this altitude – one which I would dearly love to have seen but it was only in seed was Cyrtanthus flanaganii. One of the oddest plants at this altitude is Euphorbia clavarioides, a succulent that looks as though it should be found several thousand metres lower in arid habitats. Although Tiffindell was my main Kniphofia hunting area, many people come to Rhodes for the flowers of Naude’s Nek. This road is the highest in South Africa, reaching its peak at about 2650m and it provides easy access to one of the best flower spots in the whole of South Africa. The highest parts of the pass are interesting but the real fanfare begins as one reaches the escarpment and starts to descend. Along the ridge are numerous orchids, bulbous plants such as Tritonia and Moraea, and many herbaceous plants. Kniphofia seen: K. baurii, K. caulescens, K. hirsuta, K. linearifolia, K. northiae, K. stricta, K. triangularis subsp. triangularis

Route of ascent of Ben McDhui


Top: Protea subvestita stand on Cave Sandstone ridge beyond Mount Sutherland; Bottom left: Xerophyta viscosa; Bottom right: thunderstorm approaching Mount Sutherland


Southern Drakensberg (Bushman’s Nek) This leg of the trip was supposed to be spent exploring Bushman’s Nek, up to the Lesotho border at Sehlalethebe. However, when I arrived at my accommodation they said that I could walk up the mountain directly behind the farm, a spur from the main escarpment at Bushman’s Nek called Mount Sutherland. Having been on the move for so much, I thought it would be nice to not have to get into a car for once. The hike was fantastic, but unfortunately, I reached the summit of Mount Sutherland without finding a single Kniphofia. My only option then was to walk along the ridge towards the escarpment, which was a lot more up and down than I would have liked. After 8km of tough walking I knew I needed to turn round and head back if I was going to get home in one piece. It was just at that point that I came across my first Kniphofia in flower of the hike, K. laxiflora. It was at that same point that I heard my first rumbles of thunder and there was a long way to return along an exposed ridge. Although the thunder was still some way off, by the time I got back towards Mount Sutherland, there was forked lightning striking regularly across the other side of the valley. I descended the ridge as quickly as I could and just got back to my accommodation as the hail descended in the most dramatic storm of my whole trip – a lucky escape. Despite the frustration with the lack of Kniphofia, the flora seen was beautiful and varied. On the peak of Mount Sutherland itself, there was a good population of Xerophyta viscosa, which are able to survive more or less growing out of the rocks themselves. Kniphofia seen: K. laxiflora

Route up Mount Sutherland and along ridge


Coastal forest and grassland mosaic at Silverglen Nature Reserve, Durban Inset: Tulbaghia ludwigiana


Coastal KwaZulu-Natal (Durban)

At this point I made a detour down to the coast to meet up with Syd Ramdhani and Snowy Baijnath to discuss Kniphofia with people who knew them well. Along with the Karoo, one would consider the Durban area to be the least suitable for British garden plants. The weather while I was there was very hot and humid, and the subtropical feel was accentuated by tall forests containing luxuriant Strelitzia. However, between these forest patches lay grasslands that looked very similar to those at much higher altitudes. These grasslands are presumably also rich in species, but the areas we visited had only a few flowers. It was possibly the wrong time of the year – certainly in general the Kniphofia were not flowering. This was the only place I found Tulbaghia on the trip, an unusual colour combination of pink, yellow and brown, as well as good clumps of Watsonia. Not surprisingly, around Durban these patches are sparse and often isolated by surrounding development. They are also often in inappropriate places to visit – a police car stopped and came to see what we were doing at one point, very concerned at the “abandoned” car just up the road. Going inland from the coast the altitude rises up to the Natal Midlands, as they are known. Here the flora seemed to enjoy the cooler temperatures and decreased humidity, as did we. There were many more flowers around in the grasslands and greater affinity with the Drakensberg flora: Eucomis, Gladiolus, Crocosmia and many orchids. Kniphofia seen: K. gracilis, K. laxiflora, K. linearifolia, K. pauciflora, K. tysonii

Route covered locating Kniphofia sites around Durban


Top left: Satyrium hallackii at Heronmoor Top right: Highmoor reservoir and low cloud Bottom left: Agapanthus campanulatus Bottom right: glimpse of Cleft Peak at Cathedral Peak


Northern Drakensberg (Highmoor and Cathedral Peak) The northern Drakensberg are more well-known than the southern Drakensberg, having many of the significant peaks such as the Ampitheatre, Cathedral Peak and Giant’s Castle. It is also a greater centre of endemism than the southern Drakensberg, which shares many affinities with the Eastern Cape Drakensberg. As this area had the highest concentration of Kniphofia species, I had planned two stops in this area, one around Giant’s Castle and the other at Cathedral Peak. Unfortunately, to get to the really high peaks generally takes more than a day’s walk, with an overnight stay in a cave or camping. On my own, this was not a possibility, especially considering all the extra equipment I would have had to transport around. Nevertheless, there are two places where one can get a good start: Highmoor, where the car park is already close to 2000m, and at Cathedral Peak by driving up Mike’s Pass, again getting one onto the Little Berg at 1900m before starting walking. Unfortunately, in both places I was thwarted to some degree. Firstly by the cloud, which descended to cover the highest peaks for all the time I was there; secondly by my car breaking down at Highmoor, thereby losing half a day waiting for a replacement; and thirdly, by Mike’s Pass being closed due to repairs, so I had to start my ascent of the Cathedral Peak escarpment a lot further back and lower down than I had hoped. Despite these setbacks, I had still managed to find good populations of K. ichopensis and K. laxiflora at Highmoor in my much reduced excursion. Then at Cathedral Peak, my long hike was rewarded when after a 1000m of climbing and I came across K. evansii. However, it was a shame that I was not able to spend more time closer to the escarpment. The flora as I approached definitely increased in its variety and interest and I would have loved to have been able to explore in clearer, drier conditions. Some of the interesting flora at this point included Agapanthus, Dierama, Galtonia, and Eucomis. Kniphofia seen: K. albomontana, K. angustifolia, K. evansii, K. ichopensis, K. laxiflora, K. porphyrantha

Routes at Cathedral Peak up to The Camel and along to Rainbow Gorge


Above: Brunsvigia grandiflora on the slopes of Dumbe peak; Top right: a pure white form of Galtonia candicans; Bottom right: Pterygodium magnum


Free State Escarpment (Dumbe)

Visiting this area was possibly my most uncertain part of the trip, as I did not have clear plans of where I was trying to head. The locations I had were scattered over a wide area, so I chose a midpoint, hoping that this would prove successful. I picked up one of the species, K. breviflora, I wanted to see on the way at Oliviershoek Pass, although not without difficulty. However, I did not regret spending two nights at Dumbe, which had a most spectacular view from the edge of the escarpment over KwaZulu-Natal below. The escarpment at this point is still known as the Drakensberg, although it is 1000m lower than the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. Along the escarpment are a number of koppies, often with a plateau on top. It was one of these with the same namesake as the place I was staying that I hoped to climb on my day at Dumbe. There was no path up Dumbe peak, so I just had to assess the surrounding land to find a suitable ascent – not easy as most of these peaks are defined by a rocky plateau surrounded by cliffs. Fortunately, a gap in the cliffs was located and I was able to ascend with only a bit of scrambling. The view from the top was enjoyed not just by myself but about 20 Cape vultures as well which were using the thermals ascending the peak to gain their altitude for their day’s scavange. The flora around Dumbe was beautiful, in particular a pure white form of Galtonia candicans. Once again orchids abounded including the monstrous Pterygodium magnum. In the afternoon, I used the opportunity to drive along the escarpment in search of other species. I found the localised autumn flowering form of K. ensifolia, as well as Schizostylis coccinea in the streams (or is it Hesperantha now). Finally I returned via Retiefklip, a national monument to the first voortrekker who descended the escarpment from Free State to KwaZulu-Natal, which also happens to have two species of Kniphofia growing beside it. Kniphofia seen: K. breviflora, K. ensifolia subsp. autumnalis, K. multiflora, K. ritualis, K. triangularis subsp. triangularis

Routes taken from Dumbe along escarpment and up to Dumbe peak


Main photograph: Crocosmia paniculata on top of Vloren Valei; Above left: Cyathea dregei in Buffelskloof; Bottom left: Riocreuxia torulosa


Mpumalanga Escarpment (Buffelskloof) The last stop on the trip was at Buffelskloof Nature Reserve, where I was kindly assisted in my search by John & Sandie Burrows. Although still grassland, the flora has a much more tropical feel to it here and although garden plants do occur, they are generally ones that need a bit more love and care in our climate (e.g. Agapanthus inapertus). Buffelskloof itself had just a single species in the vicinity and I did not spend much time on the reserve (though I did see the beautiful tree ferns they have there). The most interesting of the localities I visited was at Vloren Valei on the Steenkampsberg just north of Dullstroom. These grasslands are amongst the highest in Mpumalanga and although obviously hotter and drier, were very reminiscent of the Eastern Cape grasslands. The most impressive show here was produced by the swathe of Crocosmia paniculata, although this species was common elsewhere too. Our trip to southern Mpumalanga was the longest day driving and certainly for the first half, the most frustrating. Fortunately, upon discovering K. albescens our mood, as well as our success, improved. It was interesting seeing the landscape change as we approached Swaziland – granitic outcrops becoming more common. And as soon as one dropped slightly in altitude, it was evident how the habitat became unsuitable for the grassland plants one had been finding elsewhere – much more savannah habitat reminiscent of tropical Africa. The return to Johannesburg took me through more grassland where I hoped to see the unusual dark brown flowered K. typhoides, but the locality I had been given turned out to be old seedheads of K. ensifolia, a neat circle as this was also the first species I had seen on the expedition. Kniphofia seen: K. albescens, K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia, K. fluviatilis, K. galpinii, K. multiflora, K. rigidifolia, K. splendida, K. triangularis subsp. obtusiloba.

Route around Mpumalanga covered from Buffelskloof


Main photo & opposite: K. albescens between Amersfoort & Piet Retief


Kniphofia albescens

Distribution: Northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mpumalanga Location seen: Mpumalanga uplands between Ermelo and Piet Retief This was a species that I almost did not see despite the great effort expended in locating it. On day two of my stay at Buffelskloof with John & Sandie Burrows, we decided to head southwards to the grasslands east of Ermelo. However, despite appearing to be good habitat, no Kniphofia were seen for the first 5 hours of driving. There were several false calls along the way, as small white blobs were seen in fields and the car was called to a screeching halt, only to turn to disappointment. With the thought of having to extend our trip down to Wakkerstroom, I spotted a white dot in the distance of a field surrounded by corn crops. I almost didn’t bother requesting another stop, so was late on the call and we had to reverse some distance, but getting out the binoculars revealed that this time the shout had been right. Furthermore, upon approaching them more closely, the single spike from the road turned into a large population of plants in full flower. We did see a couple more plants as we continued along the road, this time slightly closer to the fence, but those plants had finished flowering, so we were lucky to find this good population first. The species is an unusual combination of robust rosettes with, in comparison, relatively small spikes of short creamy white flowers. It has affinities to K. breviflora but the plants are much bigger. The field we found it in did not look very different to many other fields we had passed, although much of the habitat in the area has been turned over to agriculture, especially corn. Cows evidently used the field at times but it did not appear to have harmed the population, although the area was clearly not overgrazed. A good example of the erratic distribution found in so many species of Kniphofia.


Main photo & opposite: K. albomontana at Thabamhlope Right photos: Kniphofia near Memel, similar to K. albomontana


Kniphofia albomontana

Distribution: Foothills of the Drakensberg Location seen: near Thabamhlope and possibly Memel This species was only described in 1987 and is named after the type locality White Mountain, itself a translation of the Zulu name Thabamhlope. It was near this area that I found the plant, fortunately within a few metres of the road as the cloud was particularly low that day and one could not see very far into the mist. It is supposedly related to K. northiae, presumably on account of its dense broad flowerheads, which are a rather dull greenish colour. The leaves however bear little resemblance to that species, as they are much narrower and keeled. The plants formed robust clumps and the unusual green colour of the flowers looked rather good in the eerie half-light of the fog. Whether they would be so appealing on a bright summer’s day, I cannot say. While there was no doubting the identity of the above population, being found more or less at the type locality, I did find another population near Memel, Free State, that may or may not have been this species. It was a similarly robust plant with dense heads but the flowers were not quite so green, more cylindrical in shape and K. albomontana has not been recorded that far north before. They were however difficult to place into any other species, although my views on their identity may have been influenced by the fact that I saw them while driving in similarly dull misty weather as when I passed the genuine species at Thabamhlope.


K. angustifolia on Little Berg at Cathedral Peak (above left), Highmoor (above right) and Rainbow Gorge (opposite)


Kniphofia angustifolia

Distribution: eastern slopes of the Drakensberg Locations seen: Highmoor and Cathedral Peak This species was long known as K. rufa, a name often used in horticulture and reputedly in the parentage of several cultivars such as ‘Maid of Orleans’. Codd decided that the cultivated plant was probably hybrid in origin and therefore the wild plants should be attributed to a new name, K. angustifolia. However, I have to admit that my understanding of K. angustifolia is not much better having seen the plants in the wild. Of the three different populations I saw, I was not convinced that I was able to accurately determine if they belonged to this species or K. ichopensis, or even if they were a hybrid between K. ichopensis and K. laxiflora, which grew in the vicinity of the population at Highmoor. K. angustifolia apparently comes in a variety of colour forms from almost white through to coral-red. The white ones look similar to K. ichopensis, but that is supposedly a taller species with broader leaves, while the orange ones have the look of K. triangularis but the flowers are much laxer in their arrangement. If it is not clear how to define the species when it is growing naturally in the wild, it is not surprising that it became confused in horticulture.


Main page & opposite: K. baurii on Naude’s Nek Pass,


Kniphofia baurii

Distribution: Lowlands of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, with a highland late-flowering form. Location seen: Naude’s Nek Pass The species in the K. uvaria complex are all rather hard to distinguish. There are some clear extremes and then there are the forms in the middle. K. baurii was described for a species found at lower altitudes in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, but a form of it was recognised by Codd in the monograph from the highlands of the Eastern Cape that looked very similar but differed in its flowering time. It was this latter form that I found on the heights of Naude’s Nek Pass. It was the commonest Kniphofia along the roadside, particularly on steep rocky slopes. Although looking like a typical red-hot poker with red buds and yellow flowers, it was distinctive in that the yellow of the flowers had a definite greenish tinge to them and the leaves were much tougher and more arcuate than plants of K. linearifolia or K. uvaria. The recent flora treated these late-flowering plants as another form of K. linearifolia but I find it hard to accept this, as that species grew further down Naude’s Nek, where it looked distinctly different and occupied a quite different habitat. The plants on Naude’s Nek bore some similarity to the K. uvaria from Gaika’s Kop, but the leaves of that plant were even more strongly recurved.


Left: K. breviflora on slopes of Dumbe peak Right & opposite: K. breviflora at Oliviershoek Pass, top showing view from road and how difficult they were to spot.


Kniphofia breviflora

Distribution: Foothills of Drakensberg north to Free State escarpment Locations seen: Oliviershoek Pass and Dumbe mountain. I had been assured by Syd that an easy place to spot this species was Oliviershoek Pass. He told me that friends of his had seen it as they passed by there even though they were not even interested in pokers. I therefore stopped halfway up the pass and walked up along the road some distance. Not seeing it, I got back in the car and drove slowly up the rest of the pass, sure I would see it. At the top, I parked the car again and this time walked slowly back down for a km or so. I was now believing that it was not in flower but decided to give it one more go, driving more slowly to check out the middle slopes. I reached the bottom of the pass without success and decided to give it up. However, my onward journey was back up the pass and this time, at the third time of traversing the pass, I spotted two small yellow dots on the hillside. I pulled into the side of the road and retrieved my binoculars. There halfway up the hillside was K. breviflora. I jumped out of the car and ran up to photograph them. Nearby were a couple more spikes, but I still think that Syd’s friends must have had amazing eyesight or when they passed the plants were performing a bit more floriferously. As it was, my close call on Oliviershoek Pass would have been irrelevant. The next day, climbing up Dumbe mountain, I came across a large population. The species clearly likes steep grassy slopes along the Free State Escarpment. It looks rather like a dwarf form of K. gracilis, with short flowers. Although the plants I found were a bright yellow, it apparently also comes in whiter forms, especially further to the south.


Left, opposite & front cover: K. caulescens at Tiffindell Right: K. caulescens and K. northiae on slopes of Bastervoetpad


Kniphofia caulescens

Distribution: High altitudes of Lesotho and surrounding areas of South Africa Locations seen: Bastervoetpad and Tiffindell This is one of the commonest species grown in gardens but it does come in a remarkable variety of forms. The plants I saw at Tiffindell did not fit the plants normally seen in horticulture as they had much narrower grass-like leaves which formed large clumps, whereas the cultivated forms have broader leaves that form clear rosettes and the stems are much more visible. The individual flowerheads of the Tiffindell plants were also quite disappointingly small, but it easily provided the best show of Kniphofia on the whole trip as the plants formed the densest stand of any species. The species grew on the edge of damp seepage areas at high altitude. At Bastervoetpad, K. caulescens grew around the edge of the damp area, whereas K. northiae grew in the middle. At Tiffindell, K. northiae was found along the stream area but K. caulescens was found around the seepage area. I expected to find more populations of K. caulescens but never attained the altitude needed again.


Main page: habitat at Kuilfontein Farm for K. ensifolia and rosette (inset) Opposite: Last flowering spike of K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia near Middelburg


Kniphofia ensifolia

Distribution: Inland distribution west of the Drakensberg Escarpment Locations seen: Kuilfontein Farm, Colesberg, N3 near Middelburg and south of Swinburne (subsp. autumnalis) This is the only species that grows in the inland drier areas of the Free State, just extending into the Northern Cape around Colesberg. Indeed, it was the population at Colesberg that I was particularly keen to visit as this is the type locality for Kniphofia tuckii. K. tuckii was described by Baker in 1893 based upon a plant gathered by Mr Tuck at Colesberg. Codd however regarded it as just an extreme form of K. ensifolia which has rather short and markedly glaucous leaves, as well as the flowers that are distinctly red in bud. Nevertheless, plants were widely grown under the name Kniphofia tuckii in the early part of the C20th and I wanted to visit Colesberg to see if the wild plants matched the horticultural ones. I knew that the plants would not be in flower as K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia is spring flowering (October-December). Nevertheless, as there are really no other species to see between Johannesburg and the southern Cape otherwise, a distance of some 1000km, it made a good focus to the journey as well as being of relevance to the horticultural history of the genus. When I booked my accommodation on a farm just outside Colesberg, I mentioned my purpose in visiting the area. I had been very pleased to have them write back and say that they had lots of red hot pokers on the farm itself, which would make the task of finding them so much easier. As mentioned already, the Karoo around Colesberg is not the habitat that one would expect to find English garden plants. However, despite the arid scenery, there are wetter areas along the drainage lines and the temperature does get as low as -10째C in winter. I found two populations of K. ensifolia in the seepage areas beside a stream that flowed through the farm.


Left: Old spikes of K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia near Middelburg Right: & opposite: K. ensifolia subsp. autumnalis near Swinburne


The habitat was easy to spot as the grasses in the area were so much taller than the surrounding vegetation. The non-flowering rosettes of Kniphofia were much harder to spot amongst the grasses. Although only leaves and a few old seedheads were present, the wild plants did not appear to be the same as what was grown in the UK under the name K. tuckii in the past. Although few people grow plants under that name today, it is thought to be the same as the cultivar ‘Atlanta’. This cultivar has broad rosettes of leaves and forms almost stem-like bases to the rosettes in a similar way to K. caulescens. The plants at Colesberg had much thinner leaves and no stems to the rosettes. Admittedly, they might perform differently in cultivation but it is unlikely and so it appears that K. tuckii became confused in cultivation before it became more widely available. Kniphofia ensifolia subsp. ensifolia was the first Kniphofia seen on the trip and also the last. As I drove back along the N3 to the airport I was on the look out for the unusual species, K. typhoides. At first I thought I had spotted it growing in a marshy area beside the road. However, the dark spikes were not flowers but old seedpods. Fortunately, there were the last remnants of the flowers on one spike, showing clearly that the seedpods belonged to the greenish-white form of K. ensifolia with its exserted stamens.

Kniphofia ensifolia subsp. autumnalis This very localised subspecies of K. ensifolia differs primarily in its autumn, not spring, flowering time and the more yellow flowers. I took the opportunity while at Dumbe to head on a short trip to the area where this subspecies is found, more in hope than expectation. I was very pleased to come across a single population in flower on the edge of marshy area amongst cornfields. Despite driving for several kilometres in different directions around this population, I came across no more plants. It is a distinctive form, especially on account of its flowering time, February-March, but is unlikely to have ever been a significant element in the horticulture of the genus.


Main page: The Camel, site of the Cathedral Peak poker, K. evansii Inset & opposite: K. evansii, bottom inset showing the exceptionally short stamens


Kniphofia evansii

Distribution: northern Drakensberg escarpment at high altitudes Location seen: Cathedral Peak just below The Camel Of all the species I found, this was probably the most satisfying. To reach the spot where I found it required a long climb with no certainty of success as the localities I had for the species were all vague. I set off early but had to climb around 1000m and over 8km to get even close to where I might find the plant. The weather was sufficiently kind to me in that the rain held off and the lightning stayed away but the cloud never lifted enough for me to see the Drakensberg peaks properly and the dew on the grass soaked the lower half of my body within the first half hour. I found K. evansii at the point where I had gone far enough, as energy levels were getting low and my water had run out. Furthermore, I had more or less reached the level of the cloud and any more climbing would have meant much reduced visibility. I nevertheless felt exhilarated at finding the Cathedral Peak poker and it gave me the energy to return the way I had come. Superficially, this species looks like an ordinary K. triangularis, although the flowerhead was more oblong in shape. However, it is unique amongst all Kniphofia species for the length of its stamens. Whereas all other species have stamens that reach at least to the mouth of the flower tube and many extend well beyond the end, the stamens in this species do not even reach halfway. It clearly has a specialised pollination mechanism within the genus, which prevents it being cross pollinated with other species accidentally.


Main page & opposite: K. fluviatilis plants growing alongside a stream on Vloren Valei


Kniphofia fluviatilis

Distribution: Widespread but scattered along the escarpment from the southern Drakensberg to eastern Mpumalanga. Location seen: Vloren Valei and possibly Highmoor Despite not flowering, this species can be identified by its habitat as it is one of the few species that grows with its feet in running water. It has quite firm erect leaves which are usually glaucous. John Burrows took me to the place where this species was growing and there were many plants. Oddly though, there were very few old flower spikes. Considering this species was supposed to flower in November and December, it had either barely flowered at all this year or the spikes had been eaten off before being able to set seed. I possibly also saw this species in the marsh below Heronmoor (my accommodation at Highmoor) but it too was no longer flowering so I have no way of confirming this and my supposition is based upon similar flowering time (or lack of it), growing in water, and previous collections from just north of that area. The very specific habitat type for this species means that it is probably unsuited to garden cultivation.


Left & opposite: K. galpinii near Buffelskloof Right: K. galpinii above Long Tom Pass


Kniphofia galpinii

Distribution: Northern Natal to eastern Mpumalanga and Swaziland. Location seen: near Buffelskloof Nature Reserve, above Long Tom Pass This species is very similar to K. triangularis and for many years plants of the latter were sold under this name in horticulture. John Burrows took me to three populations of this plant, two near Buffelskloof and one above Long Tom Pass. While the plants looked distinctly different from K. triangularis subsp. triangularis which I had seen in the Eastern Cape, I unfortunately did not see the northern subspecies obtusiloba in flower, with which it is sometimes confused. K. galpinii has narrower tougher leaves, it also appeared to have shorter squatter flowerheads with less flowers per spike than the plants of K. triangularis I saw in the Eastern Cape. It is unlikely that true K. galpinii has played much role in the breeding of Kniphofia as K. triangularis has a neater brighter flowerhead, but it was useful to see this species on account of its name being so misused in horticulture in the past.


Main page, opposite & back cover: K. gracilis at Treasure Beach, Durban


Kniphofia gracilis

Distribution: Mainly found in the lower altitude grasslands of KwaZulu-Natal from sea-level to 600m. Location seen: Durban, Treasure Beach Just like the previous species, this name has been misused in horticulture for plants that are more closely related to K. triangularis. In the early 1900s many new small cultivars came out of breeding programmes and were labelled as K. gracilis hybrids. It is quite evident from having seen this species that these hybrids have little to do with genuine K. gracilis, which is actually quite a tall species that has short flowers. Its habitat in the lowlands of KwaZulu-Natal also makes it less suitable for surviving winters in the UK. This was the one species that Syd Ramdhani was able to show me in flower on what was an otherwise frustrating day for him as he took me round the species near Durban. Where we found it was within a few metres of the coast but the species does grow inland and is apparently quite variable, becoming close to some forms of K. laxiflora.


Above: seedheads of K. hirsuta on slopes of Ben McDhui Right & opposite: lone flowering plant of K. hirsuta beside stream below Tiffindell


Kniphofia hirsuta

Distribution: Lesotho and high altitudes of neighbouring Eastern Cape Locations seen: Ben McDhui and Naude’s Nek This is the only species in the genus with hairy leaves, a character which befits the high altitudes it inhabits. It is also a low-growing species, with strongly recurved tough leaves that lie close to the ground. The flowers themselves are not particularly exciting, narrow spikes in rather dull colours of red and greenish yellow. To find this species one needs to travel along some of the highest roads in South Africa: up Carlisleshoek to Tiffindell and across Naude’s Nek Pass. The population on the slopes of Ben McDhui had mostly finished flowering, with just a single plant in the shade of a rock still in flower. The plants on Naude’s Nek were still looking good and had a rounder shape to the flowerhead, as well as exhibiting a slightly brighter yellow. This species has recently become quite common in cultivation with different selections being sold as seed, from which it does appear to come true.


Main page & opposite: K. ichopensis beside reservoir on Highmoor


Kniphofia ichopensis

Distribution: Natal Midlands to northern Drakensberg Locations seen: Highmoor and Cathedral Peak Syd and I spent a fruitless time searching for this species in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Syd knew several localities but at each one we failed to find flowers or even plants themselves (always difficult to do when not in flower). K. laxiflora was present, in both orange and yellow colour forms, but not this species, which differs by having acuminate not broadly ovate bracts and no constriction in the flower tube above the ovary. The flower colour is reportedly cream to yellowish-green, only rarely with a pinkish flush, whereas in K. laxiflora reds and orange are the predominant colours, only occasionally a bright yellow. While the Midland populations proved elusive, I do believe I found this species on Highmoor and at Cathedral Peak. However, in these localities, K. angustifolia also grows and at Highmoor, in close proximity. While distinguishing K. laxiflora from K. ichopensis was easy, I am still confused as to the exact differences between K. angustifolia and K. ichopensis. Codd in his monograph also mentioned that the two species intergrade but that there may be differences in flower colour that can be associated with flower length to help distinguish the forms.


Variation within K. laxiflora, clockwise from top left: Kokstad to Bushman’s Nek; Mount Sutherland (and opposite); Bushman’s Nek to Underberg; near Impendle; near Howick; between Amersfoort & Piet Retief


Kniphofia laxiflora

Distribution: KwaZulu-Natal, from coast to Drakensberg, and southern Mpumalanga escarpment Locations seen: Silverglen Nature Reserve, Durban, around Howick, Bushman’s Nek, Highmoor, Mpumalanga escarpment near Piet Retief This was the species that I saw most frequently, and was easily the most variable as well. Flowers colour varied from red and coral, through orange to yellow and even bicolored. The flowerheads could be very long and lax or even quite dense and height would vary from barely more than 30cm to almost 150cm. Not surprisingly, the habitat was also quite varied, although it generally preferred well-drained rocky slopes. It occurred in the grassland patches of the subtropical coastal forest mosaic around Durban (although not flowering there), right up to almost 2000m on the foothills of the Drakensberg. On Highmoor, it grew near K. ichopensis and there it either hybridised with that species or what appeared to be intermediate forms were actually K. angustifolia. It was certainly confusing. Codd in his monograph recognised three different variants but did not formally describe them. The plant I saw on the Mpumalanga escarpment was quite different to the ones in the foothills and midlands and KwaZulu-Natal, having much denser inflorescence with longer flowers. The horticultural potential of K. laxiflora has never really been tapped. Few, if any, cultivars show the form of the lax inflorescence and the only species that is generally grown with such an arrangement is K. thomsonii from tropical Africa. Great potential exists in this species providing forms can be found that can adapt to British gardens.


K. linearifolia at Hogsback (main photo & opposite); Michaelhouse near Nottingham Road (top); near Ermelo (middle); Machadodorp (bottom)


Kniphofia linearifolia

Distribution: Very widespread from Eastern Cape through to southern tropical Africa Locations seen: Hogsback, Pot River Pass, Pinetown, Machadodorp, Ermelo This is probably the commonest and most well-known species of Kniphofia, although surprisingly did not get a unique species name until 1892. Most of the early introductions of red hot pokers to cultivation were probably forms of K. linearifolia but they were usually distributed as varieties of K. uvaria. Not surprisingly therefore, the look of the plant is that of the archetypal red hot poker, with long floppy leaves and large bold cylindrical to ovate spikes of bright red flowers usually opening to yellow. The species normally grows in damp marshy areas or beside streams and rivers, covering a large altitudinal range from almost sea-level up to the highlands at over 2000m. Knowing that this was a common species, I had half expected to see it growing in every suitable habitat. Hence I was surprised to find how sporadically it grew. One damp marshy area could be filled with red spikes but then many similar places in the vicinity would not have any plants at all. Indeed, I only found it flowering at 7 different localities on my whole trip. Nevertheless it gave me a good idea of the variability present within the species. The first populations were around Hogsback and formed rather small plants with almost entirely red flowers. In Mpumalanga, we found three different populations. While two of them were in the typical marshy ground or riverine habitats, the other one was on a welldrained hillside amongst rocks. This last population was also the most horticulturally satisfying of all the populations I saw. Presumably, the range of habitats, altitude, and distribution explains why this species is so adaptable to garden cultivation.


Main page: K. multiflora at Retief Klip; Inset: K. multiflora in bud near Lydenburg Opposite: K. multiflora near Lydenburg, photo courtesy of John Burrows


Kniphofia multiflora

Distribution: Eastern Mpumalanga, with a few populations in Free State Locations seen: Retief Klip near Dumbe, and near Lydenburg Although I saw three different populations of this species, not one had started to flower, which was a shame as this is one of the more unusual and dramatic of species. The plants at Retief Klip and near Lydenburg were both in bud, the stem already about a metre tall. The flowers when they open are unusual in that they remain pointing upwards and are very short with exserted stamens. The spikes are exceptionally long too, making very fine narrow candles. The plant grown at Wisley is orange in bud, opening to a pale yellow, but the photos of the plants around Lydenburg that John Burrows showed me were a pale creamy white. The leaves are very robust and it forms big clumps. The odd aspect is that the plants are often isolated – there was a single plant on the escarpment near Buffelskloof and the clump in the Free State at Retief Klip is the only population known from the area. Considering the historical importance that Retief Klip has held for many years now, one wonders if the plants there were accidentally, or even deliberately, introduced.


Left & opposite: K. northiae on rock slopes of Gaika’s Kop Right: K. northiae along streamline at Tiffindell


Kniphofia northiae

Distribution: Highlands of the Eastern Cape through to KwaZulu Natal Midlands and Drakensberg Locations seen: Gaika’s Kop near Hogsback, Bastervoetpad and Tiffindell near Rhodes This species flowers much earlier in the year and for a very confined period. I therefore saw no plants in flower but it did not really matter as this species is most renowned for its leaves (and the flowers are rather dull and ugly). No other species of Kniphofia comes close to K. northiae in the broadness of its leaves and it looks more like an Aloe than a Kniphofia. I first came across this species on my ascent of Gaika’s Kop, where it was quite clearly confined to the rocky boulder scree, presumably protected from the frequent fires of the surrounding grassland. However, further north, and at higher altitudes, in the Eastern Cape it occupied the banks of streams and damp hollows. Apart from habitat differences the plants looked the same – it would be interesting to know where the plants grown in the UK come from. I presume they are from the higher and wetter habitats.


Left: K. parviflora reddish form at Tor Doone; Right & opposite: K. parviflora typical form at Naude’s Nek


Kniphofia parviflora

Distribution: Eastern Cape highlands Locations seen: Tor Doone (Hogsback), Naude’s Nek (Rhodes to Bushman’s Nek) Of all the species I saw, this was the most un-pokerlike of them all. It has small tubular flowers that hang on one side of an inclined spike. The plants at Tor Doone are particularly odd in that the flower colour is a dull brick-red colour but the typical colour, as seen at Naude’s Nek, is a pale yellow. Neither plant is very easy to see as they usually grow as single plants amongst grass of a similar height. Fortunately, I had been advised of good locations for both populations that I saw, although spotting a pale yellow thin spike amongst grass while driving down a windy mountain pass is not a particularly easy or safe venture to try.


Main page: Clairwood Racecourse, last refuge for K. pauciflora Opposite: K. pauciflora seedhead at Clairwood Racecourse


Kniphofia pauciflora

Distribution: Clairwood Racecourse, Durban Location seen: Clairwood Racecourse, Durban This is the rarest species of Kniphofia, being known in the wild only from a single population in the middle of a racecourse. This was one of the species that I had particularly requested Syd Ramdhani to see, although I knew it would not be flowering while I was there. Dr Baijnath rediscovered this species some 30 years ago at the racecourse and has been very interested in putting together a paper outlining its history. Part of my time in Durban was spent discussing with other collaborators in the Durban area how to put together this paper – my contribution being its introduction and use in horticulture. We visited the racecourse in the morning of my day in Durban and I was surprised to see how small an area it was confined to even within the racecourse. There were a few old spikes present but the plants when not flowering were very hard to find and probably number no more than about 20 in all. It is interesting that its flowering time in the wild is so confined, for when grown in the trial at Wisley, this was one of the species that did not have a particularly defined flowering period but carried on throwing up a spike here and there throughout the summer.


Main page & opposite: K. porphyrantha on slopes of The Camel, Cathedral Peak


Kniphofia porphyrantha

Distibution: KwaZulu-Natal and Free State Drakensberg Location seen: upper slopes of Cathedral Peak It was always a bonus to find species that one was not expecting to see and this was the case as I climbed up The Camel at Cathedral Peak. Having seen only a single species (K. angustifolia) for most of the climb I was excited to come across plants of K. porphyrantha as I hunted for K. evansii. It is a chubby little species, the individual florets appearing almost inflated; quite charming if nothing impressive. It occurred at Cathedral Peak on the high grassy slopes of the ridge up to the Camel; evidently well-drained although not very specialised in its habitat. On my descent, I came across a single plant in a more marshy area that might have been a hybrid between this species and K. angustifolia. However, as only a single spike was in flower, it was difficult to decipher its true identity.


Main page: K. rigidifolia in rocky outcrop on Vloren Valei Opposite: K. rigidifolia flower, photo courtesy of John Burrows


Kniphofia rigidifolia

Distribution: uplands near Dullstroom, Mpumalanga Location seen: Steenkampberg near Dullstroom Although not flowering this species had a very particular habitat that made it easy to spot. It grew in the high uplands of Mpumalanga north of Dullstroom and only occurred amongst the rocky outcrops that were scattered across the grassland. Presumably this protected the plants from fires or possibly animals such as baboons, which have a propensity to dig up the roots for food. The plants had broad strong dark green leaves, but as they were not flowering there was nothing else very distinctive about them. This species is not grown in cultivation, which is not surprising considering the latitude it comes from and its very particular habitat requirements.


Above: K. ritualis on slopes of Dumbe peak Above right & opposite: K. ritualis; Bottom right: K. ritualis leaf edge showing ciliate margin


Kniphofia ritualis

Distribution: Lesotho and Free State Location seen: Dumbe peak As with K. porphyrantha, this was a species that I was not expecting to see and therefore added to the excitement when I did. As this species is mainly known from Lesotho, I had not even familiarised myself with its characters, so when I came across the plants in a south-facing gully of Dumbe I did not recognise which species it was. It was unusual, in that the relatively short leaves were quite broad but most characteristically had very serrate margins with fine teeth visible to the naked eye. The flowerheads were quite short and spindle-shaped, with a rather greenish tinge to the flowers. The unusual name comes from the fact that this species is reputedly used in initiation rituals in Lesotho. It made my expedition up Dumbe worthwhile, as apart from this the only other species I saw had been K. breviflora and although the populations had been good, I had seen this species the day before on Oliviershoek Pass.


Main page & opposite: K. splendida on rocky outcrop near Lochiel


Kniphofia splendida

Distribution: Mpumalanga to Swaziland and Zimbabwe Location seen: East of Lochiel This was the second species that we were aiming to see on the day we went to find K. albescens. However, as John Burrows had never seen this species before we were not very hopeful. Furthermore, as it had taken so long to find K. albescens, we were not particularly keen on doing a lot of driving to find it. We had a rough locality of 6 miles east of Lochiel. Not a very accurate locality but considering botanists rarely wander very far from roads and obvious landmarks, it was worth a try. Our first stop, revealed nothing (although there were some very interesting other plants, such as Streptocarpus dunnii and Watsonia watsonioides) but from there we could see a small koppie with a radiomast on top just back down the road towards Lochiel. A quick scout around the koppie revealed nothing but there was a boulder outcrop lower down with trees and shrubs growing out of it, presumably protected from fire there. It was known that K. splendida grew on the edge of forest, so I went down to check it out. There amongst the tall shrubs were a couple of plants. There was no sign of flowers on their way and the foliage is not distinctive, but considering the species is known from the locality and the habitat matched where I was expecting to find it, I was pretty sure this was K. splendida. Considering its name, it was a shame it was not flowering but it was another species to add to my growing list and when we had such a slow start to the day, it provided a successful finish to end on.


Main page & opposite: K. stricta on road to Rhodes


Kniphofia stricta

Distribution: Drier areas of Eastern Cape highlands Locations seen: road near Stormberg, road between Barkly Pass and Rhodes While the flowers of this species are very typical red and yellow of a red-hot poker (although in nice clear colours) it is the leaves that make this species stand out. The cross-section of the leaves is U-shaped, which gives them a rigidity not found in most species. It is not a particularly uncommon species in the areas that it grows and is usually not found in association with other species. I found it twice by the roadside, possibly seeing it another time but driving too fast to confirm its identity. As a species for horticulture, its leaves make it a better candidate than many Kniphofia, whose leaves are usually rather untidy. However, although it would cope with cold fine, it may struggle with our wetter winters.


K. triangularis subsp. triangularis at Hogsback (top left & opposite), Bastervoetpad near Rhodes (top right), and Retief Klip near Dumbe (bottom left); K. triangularis subsp. obtusiloba seedhead above Long Tom Pass near Lydenburg


Kniphofia triangularis

Distribution: Eastern Cape through to eastern Free State, Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, and Mpumalanga escarpment (subsp. obtusiloba) Locations seen: Hogsback, Ben McDhui, Naude’s Nek, Retief Klip, above Long Tom Pass (subsp. obtusiloba) Kniphofia triangularis is probably the main parent of most of the grassy-leaved small Kniphofia cultivars. It is quite a variable species and originally was known in cultivation under both the names K. macowanii and K. nelsonii, as well as wrongly under the name K. galpinii. Although one of the smaller species, its preferred habitat of short damp grassland, often on steep slopes, made it quite easy to spot. The problem came in determining the difference between this species and K. angustifolia. I am still not convinced I have correctly identified the plants I saw at Cathedral Peak as one or the other. Kniphofia triangularis subsp. obtusiloba This is the northern subspecies of K. triangularis, which differs on account of its softer broader leaves. I was taken to the population by John Burrows, but unfortunately it was not in flower, only seedheads were present. K. galpinii, whose flowerheads looked very similar to K. triangularis, was also present in the same place. K. triangularis differs by having more fibrous narrower leaves. Codd however does note that where the two species grow together they are hard to distinguish and some plants I found did appear to be intermediate in character.


Main page & opposite: K. tysonii subsp. tysonii near Howick


Kniphofia tysonii

Distribution: KwaZulu-Natal midlands at medium to low altitudes Location seen: Just outside Howick This is another species in the K. uvaria complex. It looks remarkably similar to K. linearifolia but differs by its more cylindrical flowerheads, rather than ovoid, the stamens which usually stay exserted and colours being more orangey than pinky red. It is possible that the population Syd and I found could rather be classified as K. linearifolia but it did look different from the other populations I saw. However, there is no doubt that plants classified as K. linearifolia are very variable from population to population and boundaries between species can only be confirmed by thorough herbarium study not just observing a few populations here and there. K. tysonii comes from generally warmer lower altitudes than K. linearifolia and so is less suitable as a UK garden plant, although some forms do appear to be hardy.


Main page & opposite: K. uvaria flowerhead and seedheads at Two Streams, Langkloof


Kniphofia uvaria

Distribution: Western Cape and Eastern Cape Locations seen: Two Streams, Langkloof (typical), east of Humansdorp (K. aff. praecox), Gaika’s Kop (K. aff. citrina) Kniphofia uvaria was the first species introduced from the Cape to Europe. It is the commonest species found in the west of the country, where it can be easily identified, but it also extends into the Eastern Cape, where its variability in form leads to confusion with other species such as K. citrina, K. linearifolia and K. rooperi. Despite the fact that it is widespread, I had rarely seen it growing in the wild while I lived in Cape Town. Part of the reason for this is that it has a very scattered distribution and only flowers well after a fire. However, I had a number of potential localities that I wanted to examine as I drove through the south-western stretch of my trip from the Langkloof to Humansdorp. Unfortunately, the first few places revealed no plants - at least nothing flowering that was visible. At last, after over 60km of slow driving, looking into every ditch, I spotted some old seedheads by the side of the road. Getting out of the car I came across the last remnants of flowers on a single spike. It wasn’t great but at least it was a plant. However, as I drove on a 100m more, I came across a couple of spikes in full flower. Being the first species introduced into Europe, K. uvaria was the name widely used for most of the early forms of Kniphofia. However, most of the stronger, bolder and more colourful forms introduced in the early years probably belong to K. linearifolia. Certainly, the plants I saw could hardly have been described as beautiful and if this was the best that Kniphofia could produce then it would never have become a popular garden plant. The flowerheads were rather sparse, small and dully coloured compared with the typical red-hot poker of gardens that is offered under the


Main page & opposite: K. uvaria form on the summit of Gaika’s Kop


name K. uvaria, which are probably hybrids derived from K. linearifolia. I did not see any more flowering plants on my trip but I did come across more seedheads near Humansdorp. Some of these seedheads were particularly tall with robust leaves. It is possible that rather than belonging to K. uvaria, they actually belong to K. praecox. However, the application of this name is rather confused as Codd after publishing his monograph changed the application of the name to a garden hybrid, although many continue to use it for robust forms of the Kniphofia uvaria complex found in the Cape. Another plant I found currently attributed to K. uvaria, was on Gaika’s Kop at Hogsback. Although I had been informed by one of my contacts that this was K. citrina, it is evident from reading Codd’s monograph more carefully that he did not regard it as such. Although closely related, K. citrina is a small plant with globose flowerheads found in the coastal area around Grahamstown with clearly exserted stamens. The plant on Gaika’s Kop had globose heads of flowers but the stamens were not exserted. In Codd’s monograph he enumerates a number of forms of K. uvaria and this form fits somewhere between (c) and (d). The most remarkable aspect of the Gaika’s Kop plants is that the leaves are very tough and fibrous and strongly recurved so that they almost lie flat on the ground. To consider this plant and the typical K. uvaria found in the Langkloof as the same species seems rather bizarre, but I have not seen enough populations to have a true understanding of the variation.


Left & opposite: putative hybrid between K. caulescens & K. northiae on upper slopes of Ben McDhui Right: odd form, possible hybrid, of K. porphyrantha at Cathedral Peak


Hybrids

One of the objectives of my trip was to observe the presence of hybrids. However, I had not bargained for the fact that Kniphofia would often be so sparse that finding two species growing in the same locality was quite unusual. Therefore it followed that the presence of hybrids was even rarer. Whether this was solely due to the sparseness of populations or rather due to breeding barriers such as incompatibility, different pollinators or non-overlapping flowering times is hard to tell. Of the few examples of hybrids I thought I did find, none were unequivocally so. The most interesting potential hybrid were the plants on Ben McDhui that looked superficially like K. caulescens in their flowers, but although the leaves were glaucous they were much broader than the plants found in the main population. Furthermore, the plants did not clump but were found solitary and also inhabited the upper well-drained slopes of Ben McDhui, a very different habitat from the typical species in the seepage areas. My conclusion was that they were probably hybrids with K. northiae, which grew along the streams above K. caulescens. However, this was also a very different habitat to where these hybrids grew and the hybrids were not just a single plant but a whole population occupying a very defined habitat. If they were hybrids, they were clearly able to reproduce themselves and in my view attributing specific status to these plants would almost be more appropriate. The difficulty of distinguishing species versus hybrids was particularly evident in the case of K. angustifolia and K. ichopensis. With K. laxiflora growing in the same vicinity (on the slightly drier ground) as K. ichopensis, the orange flowered plants in the area could have been hybrids or they could have been K. angustifolia. I could not make up my mind on this one. There were other odd plants seen around, such as the putative hybrid of K. porphyrantha at Cathedral Peak. But without seeing more of these plants, it is difficult to tell if it is just an atypical form or an actual hybrid.


Publicity

As part of my expedition I was asked to keep a blog to inform RHS members and others about what I was up to. This was a concern before my trip, as I did not know if I would have enough content to fill a blog on a day by day basis. However, I should not have been worried, as my problem was more about knowing how to limit what to write each day rather than whether I would have enough to fill the pages. Only on a few days, where I was mainly driving and not stopping to look at plants, did I struggle to think of an appropriate topic for the blog. Of greater difficulty was finding the time and energy to do the blog: I was often writing it until very late in the evening having been up at the crack of dawn and either travelled a long way or doing a big hike. The other issue to resolve was posting it online. At most places I stayed, the host was happy to e-mail it back to Wisley for me, where our department co-ordinator put it up on the blog. However, there were some days where I had no access to the internet either directly or indirectly. This was compounded if it then ran into a weekend, as no-one was available to put it online until the Monday. Therefore, there were a couple of times where no blog was posted for several days. Nevertheless, the blog appeared to be a great success and also now acts as a permanent record of the trip available online. Over 13,000 page views have been made of the blog thus far and a Google search on particular species of Kniphofia often ends up pointing to the Blog as one of the top search results. http://mygarden.rhs.org.uk/blogs/plant_scientist/archive/2012/0 2/24/expedition-to-see-kniphofia-in-south-africa.aspx While at Durban, I was also asked to give a presentation on the work of the Royal Horticultural Society to the Durban Botanic Garden Trust. It enabled me to meet some of the people involved with the garden, the herbarium and the university. We also took time to discuss the collaboration on a paper about Kniphofia pauciflora, its history, introduction to cultivation and conservation.

Opposite: samples from my daily blog Below: Dr Syd Ramdhani & Dr Snowy Baijnath hunt for rosettes of K. paucilfora on Clairwood Racecourse


Looking back at Mount Sutherland from along the ridge (the thunder had already started to rumble at this point)


Achievements and difficulties

Before starting this trip I was concerned on a number of accounts about whether I would find sufficient species to justify the expedition or if they would be flowering. This feeling was accentuated by my agreeing to do a daily blog, therefore a failure in the expedition would be evident for all to see. Considering four days into the trip I had still only seen a single rather poor population of Kniphofia in flower, my fears were starting to become a reality. Fortunately, Hogsback eliminated that in one morning and from then on the trip felt like a success. I managed to see the majority of species that I had planned to see, and most of them in flower. A total of 27 species is over half of the species in South Africa, which is an achievement to accomplish in 3 weeks considering that more than one or two species rarely grow in the same location. There were only four species on my original target list that I did not see at all: K. brachystachya, K. buchananii, K. fibrosa, and K. typhoides. None of these are significant from a horticultural perspective. Flowering time was always going to be an issue and it was a shame not to see certain species in bloom, particularly K. multiflora, but only six of the species that I saw had no open flowers. I also found over 70 populations of Kniphofia, giving me a good insight into the variation of forms and habitats that the more widespread species inhabit. Hybrids were not as common as I had expected but this could well be due to the scarcity of Kniphofia populations and that it is rare for more than one species to be found in close proximity. Where two species were found growing together, there was occasionally a suggestion that some plants were hybrids, but it was still rare. One of the biggest problems I encountered was the distance I had to cover. In effect, I was driving on every other day and this usually involved a long distance and/or slow driving. I found this exhausting and therefore did not take additional detours. With a few more days added into the itinerary, I could have broken up the long drives and used the additional time to visit more sites along the way. It has been frustrating to review my route and find that adding another 20km on to a day’s journey could have lead to finding another species. However, although that sounds little now, I know on each day I was just relieved to reach my destination without any extra driving (especially as I then had to write up the blog for the day that evening). Apart from species not flowering, which makes them more-or-less impossible to spot unless one has a precise locality, the only other species I missed out on seeing was on the day that I disregarded my carefully planned itinerary at Bushman’s Nek. Admittedly, there is no guarantee that I would have found K. brachystachya if I had proceeded up Bushman’s Nek to the Lesotho border rather than climbing Mount Sutherland. However, I will never know and it continues to nag at me that I made the wrong choice there. Car problems and bad weather frustrated me in the northern Drakensberg. Highmoor had been the other place that I might have found K. brachystachya but the fact that I lost half a day waiting for a new car thwarted that opportunity. The weather also made it pointless using the day between Highmoor and Cathedral Peak for exploring another part of the Drakensberg. And although the weather at Cathedral Peak did not stop me finding K. evansii, it did make me turn around once I had found it, as well as obscuring the beautiful views that I could have photographed. But returning to the positive, one of the best parts of the trip was getting to know new South African contacts in Syd Ramdhani, Himansu Baijnath and John & Sandie Burrows. All of them offered invaluable assistance to me in my search for Kniphofia as well as providing good company during an expedition that otherwise I was essentially on my own for. Without them the expedition would have been much the poorer.


Malachite sunbird feeding on cultivated Kniphofia at Walkerbouts Inn, Rhodes


Budget

Between budgeting and the actual trip the rand versus the pound moved in my favour but fuel costs soared in the same period, inflation increased the cost of car hire and I had not taken into account the frequency of toll roads in South Africa. I also considered that hire of a mobile phone while out there was vital considering that I was travelling along many isolated roads on my own. However, I managed the trip within budget mainly thanks to assistance in cost of travel, food and accommodation by my hosts in Durban and Buffelskloof. Income Blaxall Valentine Award £1900 Percy Sladen Memorial Fund £750 Total £2650 Expenses Budgeted Actual Notes Flight £738.33 £499.97 Train £0 £19.50 To Heathrow Airport Insurance £38.71 £0 This was covered by the RHS Accommodation £630 £607.26 I stayed with Syd Ramdhani in Durban. Accommodation at Buffelskloof was also charged only at a nominal rate. Car hire £755.93 £793.15 Fuel & tolls £450 £366.42 This would have been much more but John Burrows very kindly drove me around for great distances on two days and did not charge me any cost for fuel. Phone hire £0 £81.03 Food £315 £184.79 I was kindly provided with good food at Buffelskloof and Durban. Miscellaneous £0 £77.50 This included items such as internet access to send my blog, travel to and from the airport, gifts for hosts who were not charging me, and spare battery & memory card Total £2927.97 £2610.13 The remaining £40 is being used to contribute towards the cost of providing reports to people who assisted me on my trip.


Last glimpses of sunlight on Highmoor


Acknowledgements

My grateful thanks extend to the following people without whom the expedition would not have been possible or achieved so much: Trustees of the Blaxall Valentine Award (RHS) and Percy Sladen Memorial Fund (Linnean Society) For providing the funds that supported this expedition. John David and Roger Williams, RHS For supporting me in my applications and permitting me the time to undertake this trip. Syd Ramdhani, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville) For showing me many different Kniphofia localities and sharing his extensive knowledge of pokers. It was great to be able to talk about the plants that I had seen with someone who had so much more familiarity with the wild plants. I am also very grateful to his parents for being so hospitable and opening up their home for me to stay. Snowy Baijnath, University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville) For introducing me to everyone at Durban Botanic Garden and arranging for me to see K. pauciflora in habitat. John & Sandie Burrows, Buffelskloof Nature Reserve For their willingness to drive me around in search of Kniphofia, especially when we drove over 5 hours without seeing a single plant. Also for excellent food, even when there was a power-cut, and top-class accommodation. I am also grateful for the following people for sharing their knowledge of wild plants before my trip: Rod & Rachel Saunders, Cameron McMaster, Vincent Ralph Clark. Lastly, I need to save my greatest thanks for my wife, Anna, who so lovingly allowed me to disappear off to sunnier climes for three weeks during the coldest part of the winter while she stayed at home caring for our children.


Bibliography

Codd, L.E. 1968. The South African species of Kniphofia. Bothalia 9: 363-511. Codd, L.E. 2005. Asphodelaceae (First part): Kniphofia. In: Germishuizen, G. & Momberg, B.A. (eds). Flora of southern Africa 5 Part 1(2). South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Germishuizen, G. & Fabian, A. 1997. Wild flowers of northern South Africa. Fernwood Press, Vlaeberg, Cape Town. Hilliard, O.M. & Burtt, B.L. 1987. The botany of the Southern Natal Drakensberg. National Botanic Gardens, Cape Town. Manning, J. 2001. Eastern Cape. South African Wild Flower Guide 11. Botanical Society of South Africa & National Botanical Institute. Cape Town. Pooley, E. 1998. A field guild to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban. Pooley E, 2003. Mountain flowers. A field guide to the flora of the Drakensberg & Lesotho. Flora Publications Trust, Durban. Van Wyk, B. & Malan, S. 1997. Field guide to the wild flowers of the Highveld. Struik, Cape Town. Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.

View from N1 near Winburg across Free State towards Lesotho


Appendix: List of flora seen ACANTHACEAE Blepharis capensis ADIANTACEAE Cheilanthes eckloniana Pellaea calomelanos AGAPANTHACEAE Agapanthus campanulatus A. caulescens A. inapertus A. praecox AMARYLLIDACEAE Ammocharis coranica Brunsvigia grandiflora B. radulosa B. undulata Cyrtanthus breviflorus C. flanaganii Haemanthus albiflos Scadoxus puniceus ANACARDIACEAE Rhus erosa ANTHERICACEAE Chlorophytum cooperi APIACEAE Alepidea amatymbica A. natalensis A. thodei APOCYNACEAE Gomphocarpus fruticosus Riocreuxia torulosa Schizoglossum bidens subsp. pachyglossum Xysmalobium undulatum APONOGETONACEAE Aponogeton junceus

ARACEAE Zantedeschia aethiopica Z. albomaculata ARALIACEAE Cussonia paniculata var. sinuata ASPARAGACEAE Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’ A. virgatus Drimia macrocentra Eucomis autumnalis E. bicolor E. comosa E. pole-evansii Galtonia candicans G. regalis Ledebouria cooperi Merwilla plumbea Sansevieria hyacinthoides Schizocarphus nervosus ASPHODELACEAE Aloe ecklonis Bulbine abyssinica B. narcissifolia Kniphofia albescens K. albomontana K. angustifolia K. baurii K. breviflora K. caulescens K. ensifolia subsp. autumnalis K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia K. evansii K. fluviatilis K. galpinii K. gracilis K. hirsuta K. ichopensis K. laxiflora K. linearifolia

K. multiflora K. northiae K. parviflora K. pauciflora K. porphyrantha K. rigidifolia K. ritualis K. splendida K. stricta K. triangularis subsp. obtusiloba K. triangularis subsp. triangularis K. tysonii subsp. tysonii K. uvaria ASTERACEAE Berkheya cirsiifolia B. multijuga B. purpurea B. rhapontica Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. canescens Eumorphia sericea subsp. robustior Euryops decumbens E. tysonii Gnaphalium limicola Haplocarpha scaposa Helichrysum adenocarpum H. cephaloideum H. cooperi H. herbaceum H. monticola Syncarpha eximia Tolpis capensis BALSAMINACEAE Impatiens hochstetteri BEGONIACEAE Begonia sutherlandii BORAGINACEAE Afrotysonia glochidiata Myosotis semiamplexicaulis


CAMPANULACEAE Craterocapsa congesta C. tarsodes Cyphia tysonii Monopsis decipiens M. unidentata Wahlenbergia cuspidata CARYOPHYLLACEAE Dianthus basuticus D. mooiensis Pollichia campestris Silene bellidioides COLCHICACEAE Androcymbium striatum Wurmbea elatior COMMELINACEAE Commelina africana CRASSULACEAE Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga Crassula acinaciformis C. alba C. capitellata C. peploides C. vaginata CYATHEACEAE Cyathea dregei CYPERACEAE Cyperus sphaerocephalus DIDIERIACEAE Portulacaria afra EBENACEAE Diospyros austro-africana ERICACEAE Erica densifolia E. pectinifolia

ERIOCAULACEAE Eriocaulon dregei EUPHORBIACEAE Acalypha punctata Euphorbia clavarioides GENTIANACEAE Sebaea grandis Sebaea leiostyla GERANIACEAE Geranium wakkerstroomianum Monsonia attenuata Pelargonium peltatum GESNERIACEAE Streptocarpus dunnii S. gardenii S. rexii GUNNERACEAE Gunnera perpensa HYPERICACEAE Hypericum lalandii HYPOXIDACEAE Hypoxis parvula Rhodohypoxis baurii IRIDACEAE Aristea woodii Crocosmia Ă— crocosmiiflora C. paniculata C. pottsii Dierama pulcherrimum Dietes iridioides Gladiolus crassifolius G. dalenii G. ecklonii G. longicollis G. oppositiflorus G. papilio G. saundersii

Hesperantha coccinea H. grandiflora Moraea albicuspa M. alticola M. brevistyla M. elliotii M. inclinata Romulea macowanii R. thodei Tritonia disticha Watsonia knysnana Watsonia pillansii W. watsonioides W. wilmsii LAMIACEAE Isodon calycinus Leonotis intermedia Mentha aquatica Plectranthus grallatus Pycnostachys reticulata Syncolostemon macranthus LENTIBULARIACEAE Utricularia livida LYCOPODIACEAE Huperzia saururus Lycopodium clavatum MALVACEAE Hibiscus calyphyllus Sparrmannia ricinocarpa MELIANTHACEAE Greyia sutherlandii MIMOSACEAE Acacia karroo


ORCHIDACEAE Corycium dracomontanum Disa chrysostachya D. oreophila D. patula D. sagittalis Eulophia aculeata Habenaria dives Habenaria malacophylla Holothrix scopularia Holothrix thodei Pterygodium magnum Satyrium hallackii subsp. ocellatum S. longicauda S. sphaerocarpum S. trinerve Schizochilus zeyheri Stenoglottis fimbriata OROBANCHACEAE Buchnera simplex Cycnium racemosum Harveya huttonii H. scarlatina H. speciosa PAPILIONACEAE Desmodium repandum Erythrina zeyheri Lotononis lotononoides Trifolium burchellianum PHILESIACEAE Behnia reticulata PIPERACEAE Peperomia retusa PLUMBAGINACEAE Plumbago auriculata POACEAE Thamnocalamus tesselatus PODOCARPACEAE

Podocarpus latifolius PROTEACEAE Protea dracomontana P. mundii P. roupelliae P. subvestita RANUNCULACEAE Clematis brachiata ROSACEAE Agrimonia procera Cliffortia arcuata C. browniana C. dracomontana C. eriocephalina C. ferruginea C. ilicifolia var. ilicifolia C. linearifolia C. nitidula subsp. pilosa C. paucistaminea var. paucistaminea C. ramosissima C. repens C. spathulata C. stricta C. strobilifera Geum capense Leucosidea sericea Rubus ludwigii RUBIACEAE Galium capense subsp. garipense RUTACEAE Zanthoxylum capense SCROPHULARIACEAE Diclis rotundifolia Glumicalyx montanus G. nutans Hebenstretia oatesii Jamesbrittenia breviflora Limosella inflata Melasma scabrum

Mimulus gracilis Phygelius capensis Sopubia cana Zaluzianskya microsiphon VELLOZIACEAE Talbotia elegans Xerophyta viscosa VERBENACEAE Verbena brasiliensis V. tenuisecta VISCACEAE Viscum rotundifolium XYRIDACEAE Xyris capensis ZAMIACEAE Encephalartos ghellinckii


Blepharis capensis

Pellaea calomelanos

Agapanthus inapertus

Brunsvigia grandiflora

Brunsvigia radulosa

Brunsviia undulata

Chlorophytum cooperi

Alepidea natalensis

Alepidea thodei

Schizoglossum bidens

Xysmalobium undulatum

Aponogeton junceus

Cussonia paniculata

Eucomis bicolor

Eucomis comosa

Eucomis pole-evansii


Galtonia regalis

Ledebouria cooperi

Sansevieria hyacinthoides

Aloe ecklonis

Bulbine abyssinica

Berkheya cirsiifolia

Berkheya multijuga

Euryops decumbens

Euryops tysonii

Helichrysum cephaloideum Helichrysum cooperi

Helichrysum monticola

Syncarpha eximia

Impatiens hochstetteri

Myosotis semiamplexicaulis

Afrotysonia glochidiata


Cyphia tysonii

Monopsis decipiens

Wahlenbergia cuspidata

Dianthus mooiensis

Pollichia campestris

Silene bellidioides

Androcymbium striatum

Wurmbea elatior

Commelina africana

Crassula alba

Crassula capitellata

Crassula peploides

Crassula vaginata

Cyperus sphaerocephalus

Portulacaria afra

Diospyros austro-africana


Erica pectinifolia

Eriocaulon dregei

Acalypha punctata

Sebaea grandis

Sebaea leiostyla

Monsonia attenuata

Pelargonium luridum

Streptocarpus rexii

Gunnera perpensa

Hypericum lalandii

Hypoxis parvula

Hypoxis baurii

Aristea woodii

Crocosmia pottsii

Dierama pulcherrimum

Dietes iridioides


Gladiolus dalenii

Gladiolus ecklonii

Gladiolus oppositiflorus

Gladiolus papilio

Gladiolus saundersii

Hesperantha coccinea

Hesperantha grandiflora

Moraea albicuspa

Moraea brevistyla

Moraea elliotii

Moraea inclinata

Romulea macowanii

Tritonia disticha

Watsonia knysnana

Watsonia pillansii

Watsonia watsonioides


Watsonia wilmsii

Leonotis intermedia

Plectranthus grallatus

Pycnostachys reticulata

Syncolostemon macranthus Utricularia livida

Sparrmannia ricinocarpa

Acacia karroo

Corycium dracomontanum Disa chrysostachya

Disa oreophila

Disa sagitallis

Eulophia aculeata

Habenaria malacophylla

Holothrix scopularia

Habenaria dives


Satyrium longicauda

Satyrium sphaerocarpum

Satyrium trinerve

Schizochilus zeyheri

Stenoglottis fimbriata

Cycnium racemosum

Harveya huttonii

Harveya scarlatina

Harveya speciosa

Lotononis lotononoides

Peperomia retusa

Thamnocalamus tesselatus

Protea dracomontana

Protea roupelliae

Protea subvestita

Agrimonia procera


Cliffortia ilicifolia

Cliffortia paucistaminea

Cliffortia repens

Cliffortia spathulata

Zanthoxylum capense

Diclis rotundifolia

Glumicalyx montanus

Hebenstretia oatesii

Jamesbrittenia breviflora

Melasma scabrum

Mimulus gracilis

Phygelius capensis

Sopubia cana

Zaluzianskya microsiphon

Viscum rotundifolium

Encephalartos ghellinckii


Frog at Tiffindell

Southern Anteating Chat, Kuilfontein Farm

Beetles on Helichrysum, Dumbe

Agama lizard, Mount Sutherland

Blesbok, Vloren Valei

Giant millipede, road to Langkloof


Appendix: List of animals seen BIRDS Ostrich Dabchick Grey heron Black-headed heron Cattle egret White stork Hamerkop Hadeda ibis Southern bald ibis Sacred ibis Spur-winged goose Egyptian goose South African shelduck Yellow-billed duck Cape vulture African fish eagle Black eagle Long-crested eagle Jackal buzzard Steppe buzzard Black harrier Black-shouldered kite Yellow-billed kite Eastern red-footed falcon Lesser kestrel Red-necked francolin Helmeted guineafowl Ground hornbill Common quail Red-knobbed coot Southern crowned crane Blue crane Secretarybird Blue korhaan Karoo korhaan Three-banded plover Crowned plover Wattled plover Blacksmith plover Painted snipe Rock pigeon Rameron pigeon

Cape turtle dove Cape parrot Alpine swift Speckled mousebird Giant kingfisher Brown-hooded kingfisher Hoopoe Black-collared barbet Acacia pied barbet Greater striped swallow European swallow Fork-tailed drongo White-necked raven Pied crow Arrow-marked babbler Red-eyed bulbul Black-eyed bulbul Sombre bulbul Cape rock thrush Orange-breasted rockjumper Stonechat Southern anteating chat Cape robin Rufous-eared warbler Paradise flycatcher Cape white-eye Cape wagtail Fiscal shrike Bokmakerie Red-winged starling Indian myna Pied starling Malachite sunbird Black sunbird Greater double-collared sunbird Cape sparrow Southern masked weaver Cape weaver Red-billed quelea Red bishop Golden bishop Long-tailed widow Red-collared widow

Yellow-rumped widow Pin-tailed whydah Paradise whydah Cape canary MAMMALS Baboon Black-backed jackal Blesbok Blue duiker Dassie Eland Gemsbok Ground squirrel Samango monkey Springbok Springhare Vervet monkey Yellow mongoose

Pokers of South Africa  

An expedition report on a trip to South Africa to see Kniphofia (red hot pokers). Printed copies are available at http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/3...

Pokers of South Africa  

An expedition report on a trip to South Africa to see Kniphofia (red hot pokers). Printed copies are available at http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/3...

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