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Plants from the NMMU Nature Reserve By Kelly Mc Iver

Plants from the NMMU Nature Reserve By Kelly Mc Iver

Photography and drawings copyright Š Kelly Mc Iver, 2013 All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Plants from the NMMU Nature Reserve by photographer, Kelly Mc Iver, reveals the types of plants found in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The South Campus of the University covers eight hundred and thirty hectares of land and was declared as a nature reserve in 1983. NMMU is the only university in South Africa to be situated on a nature reserve, as well as being the only university which offers game drives on its campus. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s vegetation is commonly known as Dune Fynbos (fine bush) which covers most of the surrounding areas of the university. Fynbos is typically grown on stony mountain soils. coastal sands and limestone, which are infertile. The book contains thirteen species of plants which are found in the reserve featuring photographs, drawings and information of each plant. The photographs show the plant in its natural environment and a closer, detailed image. The drawings reveal a different angle of the plant in order for it to be more easily recognisable. The text comprises a description of each plant, including its family, African name, habitat, identification, flowering time and any extra information to make it more interesting for the reader to enjoy.

Metalsia Muricata

Metalsia Muricata Family:

Asteraceae (Daisy family)

African Name: White Bristle Bush (Eng); Blombos, Steekbos (Afr) Identification: This plant is a wide spread shrub with honey scented flowers. The plant spans over two

to four metres and each stem contains about ten to twenty branches, each with a flower

on. The plant is widely spread across the Eastern Cape in mountainous and coastal

regions. The leaves of the plant are narrow, needle-like grey-green leaves which are

scattered around the branch leading up to the flower. The leaves range from six to

eighteen millimetres long and are not very thick. The flowers are

yellow-white in colour but can also be seen in pink, red

and purple.


Coastal dunes, Mountainous areas, Rock outcrops and along


Flowering time: Anytime during the year but especially in Spring

Notes: The plant is used in Lesotho to make a tea with its dried leaves. The plant is also used as firewood in many areas around South Africa.

Felicia Echinata

Felicia Echinata Family:


African Name: Dune Daisy, Prickly Felicia (Eng); Bloublommetjie (Afr) Identification: This plant is easy to recognise by its glossy leaves, which are edged with small white

teeth to form a sharp tip. This plant grows to about sixty centimetres high and its

branches contain two to three large daisies at their tips. The flowers are usually mauve

in colour with a bright yellow pollen centre, however the flowers can also be white.

The leaves are oval to triangular in shape and are dark green in colour. The seeds of this

plant will germinate within about three weeks and produce seedlings

that will flower the next season.


Next to roads and on sand y dunes along the coast of

Eastern Cape

Flowering time: April - October

Notes: There are more than eighty five species of Felicia found from the southern and tropical areas of Africa to Arabia. The leaves of the plant act as a prickly protector to discourage animals and insects from eating it.

Aloe Ferox

Aloe Ferox Family:


African Name:

Bitter Aloe (Eng); Bitteraalwyn (Afr)

Identification: This plant has a single-stem which contains a thick bunch of thorny succulent leaves

at its base. Many branches extend from this single stem and on each branch there are

orange-red flowers in a mass. These flowers are about thirty millimetres long, are tubular

in shape and curl upwards towards their tips. The plant as a whole can reach up to five

meters in height and consists of old remaining leaves on the trunk. The margins of the

brown-green leaves bear little brown teeth to protect the plant against predators. The

plant is slow growing and attracts a lot of attention with its

bright orange flowers.


Widely found on stony flats and slopes

Flowering time: Between May and September

Notes: The flowers of this plant bear very rich nectar which is drawn by the Blackheaded Oriole, Barbets and Sunbirds. For over two hundred years, the golden-brown leaf sap is used to make a purgative drug called Cape Aloe, and is used in hair and skin products. The sap can also be directly applied to sunburns, burns, open wounds, itchy insect bites and ulcers.

Syncarpha Sordescens

Syncarpha Sordescens Family:


African Name :

White everlasting (Eng); Witsewejaartjie (Afr)

Identification: The plant spreads across a fifty square centimetre area and is tightly woven between

each stem. The blue-green narrow and woolly leaves extend upwards towards the flower

and end in a sharp point. The buds consist of crisp, papery petals and a circular pollen

centre which attracts the attention of insects. The approximate length of each flower is

seven millimetres which crowd the end of the branches and

fill the entire plant with flowers.


Dunes and sand y slopes

Flowering time: August to November

Notes: The afrikaans name, sewejaartjie, originates from the belief that the plant will last for seven years in a house once it has been cut. The hairs on the leaves protect the plant from the salty winds and wind-blown sand which occurs in its habitat.

Anagallis Arvensis

Anagallis Arvensis Family:


African Name :

Scarlet Pimpernel (Eng)

Identification: The plant is found close to the ground and only reaches the height of between six and

thirty centimetres. The leaves can be described as egg-shaped and are pale green in

colour with small black dots on the underside of the leaf. A leaf is eight to twenty eight

millimetres in length. The flowers diameter is fourteen millimetres and can be red or pink

in colour but also blue. The blue flower or pimpernel is known as

Anagallis arvensis Forma azurea. The plant is more commonly

known as a weed but is still a beauty to the eye.


Found on road verges, sand dunes coastal cliffs

Flowering time: May to late August

Notes: In the past, the plant is widely used to treat liver problems, toothache, snake bites and kidney inflammation. The flowers open around eight in the morning and close at three in the afternoon and close during humid and damp weather. The plant is now found in most places around the world such as America, Central and East Asia, India, Malesia, Australasia and Southern Africa.

Leonotis Leonurus

Leonotis Leonurus Family:

Lamiaceae (mint family)

African Name :

Wild Dagga (Eng); Wildedagga, Duiwelstabak (Afr)

Identification: This colourful plant is fast-growing and drought-resistant. The long orange flowers at the

top of the stem contain soft hairs which are rich in nectar. Apart from the orange

flowers, the plant can also bloom creamy-white flowers. The leaves below the flowers

have serrate edges and are longer than the flowers. The length of the flowers are

roughly five centimetres and the leaves are about double in length.

The plant is very easy to grow and it is not fussy with

the type of soil it grows in.


Amongst rocks in grasslands

Flowering time: Autumn

Notes: The nectar of this plant attracts bees, butterflies and birds such as the Whitebellied, Black, Yellowbellied, Olive, Collared and Marico Sunbirds. The plants’ leaves are used as a remed y to heal colds, flu, coughs, bronchitis, headaches, asthma and high blood pressure. The earliest dwellers in South Africa would chew and smoke this plant instead of tobacco.

Polygala Ericaefolia

Polygala Ericaefolia Family:

Polygalaceae (milkwort family)

African Name :

September bush (Eng); Blouertjie, Langelede (Afr)

Identification: This evergreen and common shrub contains pink, purple or mauve flowers and reaches

from sixty centimetres to two metres in height. The plant varies in its form according to

the harshness of the climate and as a result plays a role in the formation of the leaf. The

leaves can either be oval-shaped or needle-like leaves but no matter the shape, the colour

of the leaves can be light green, dark green or slightly grey. The flowers are made up of

two wings and keel and each petal is marked with darker

veins to add to its beauty.


Rocky slopes, dunes and forests

Flowering time: Spring

Notes: Polys in Greek means much and gala means milk as the flower has the reputation of producing milk. The plant is known for its antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

Searisa Crenata

Searsia Crenata Family:


African Name :

Blue-fruit currant, Dune crowberry, Raisin bush (Eng); Duinekraaibessie (Afr)

Identification: This indigenous shrub can reach up to two and a half metres high and about four metres

wide. The plant grows in low maintainence areas as it is a wind and drought resistant

plant and is able to look after itself. During flowering season the plant produces blue-black

berries in the form that resembles raisins, which birds are drawn to. The leaves of the

plant are softly rounded and are glossy green in colour. The leaves also have visible veins

flowing from the centre of the leaf outwards and have a thin

red line which lines the tip of the leaf.


Dry coastal areas

Flowering time: Autumn

Notes: The plant was once called Rhus crenata and has only recently changed its name to Searsia crenata. Only the female plants produce fruits but without the fertilisation from the male plant the female will be unable to produce any fruit.

Coleonema Pulchellum

Coleonema Pulchellum Family:

Rutaceae (citrus family)

African Name :

Confetti bush (Eng); Aasbossie (Afr)

Identification: This evergreen dense shrub reaches the height of up to a meter and bears masses of pink

flowers during autumn and spring. The plant forms a single stem which contains many

needle-like leaves which are eight to ten millimetres in length and a millimetre broad. The

flowers are pink or white in colour and are made up of star-shaped, oval petals with a

distinctive central vein. These flowers attract bees and butterflies

with its nectar.


Along coastal flat from Knysna to Port Elizabeth

Flowering time: May to October

Notes: Coleonema comes from the Greek word koleos meaning sheath, nema meaning thread and Pulchellum means pretty in Latin. The first specimen of this plant was discovered in Al goa Bay in 1813. There are eight species of Coleonema found in the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. Fishermen rub this plant on their hands to remove the fish odour.

Heliophila Suavissima

Heliophila Suavissima Family:


African Name :

Showy sunflax (Eng); Bloubekkie, Ruikpeperbossie (Afr)

Identification: The flowers consists of four petals which span one and half centimetres across and are

blue-purple to lilac in colour. Several green pods surround the flower and feed off the same

central stem. The stem is a pale grey-green in colour and is thirty to sixty centimetres in

height. The stem contains leaves at its lower part, which are two to five centimetres

in length. The pepper fragrance of the flower can be smelt in the evening when it closes,

as well as, when the flower closes in cooler weather



Grassy fields and hills

Flowering time: Autumn to early Spring

Notes: Heliophila means sun loving and suavissima is translated from latin to mean very charming and becomes a good description of the plant. In South Africa there are seventy one species of heliophila which are mostly found in the south-western cape.

Phylica Ericoides

Phylica Ericoides Family:

Rhamnaceae (rhamnus family)

African Name :

Heath phylica (Eng); Hardebos (Afr)

Identification: This shrub contains dark green leaves and many fluffy white flower heads which

attract immediate attention. The shrub usually reaches approximately a metre in length and

contains leaves which are linear in shape and five to eight millimetres long. The margins of

the leaves are rolled inwards underneath the leaf creating an interesting form. The flowers

of the plant are two millimetres long and are tightly packed into a seven millimetre head

at the tip of the branch. The flower head forms a star-like

shape and is a dark to medium brown in colour.


Sand y flats and coastal slopes

Flowering time: Autumn and Winter

Notes: The plant was first discovered in 1731. The rolled inwards margin underneath the leaf is used to protect the plant during a drought by storing the necessary water vapour in it.

Indigofera Glaucescens

Indigofera Glaucescens Family:

Fabaceae (Leguminosae)

African Name :

Confetti bush (Eng); Leeuhout (Afr)

Identification: This shrub consists of small red flowers which contain two similar petals which open up

away from each other. The flower is approximately three centimetres in full length and

the stem stands about thirty centimetres in height. The green erect stem contains branches

of closely set buds at the end of it and thin leaves on the other end. The stem and the

buds have tiny hairs covering their entire areas.


Sandstone outcrops

Flowering time: May to July

Notes: An indigofera plant bears an indigo d ye but only in certain Indigoferas such as in the Indigofera tinctoria and Indigofera suffruticosa. It is said there are seven hundred and thrity species of indigofera in the world, of which two hundred and ten are found in South Africa.

Morella Quercifolia

Morella Quercifolia Family:


African Name :

Oak-leaf Myrica, Wax berry (Eng); Maagpynbos (Afr)

Identification: Less than a metre high, this plant has oak-leaf shaped leaves and grows in sand y soils.

The plant produces blue-ish, waxy berries which get eaten by birds. The plant is able to

withstand in any conditions such as drought, sun, shade and winds. The plant consists of

many wooden stems which run up through the centre. Each stem has many branches,

from which leaves extend off from. The leaves are olive green

in colour and become an oak-brown when dead.


Sand y flats, slopes and rocky outcrops

Flowering time: Autumn to winter

Notes: The wax coating on the berries is in actual fact not wax, but a true fat. The leaves of the plant were used as a remed y by the early Cape settlers to relieve stomach ache, hence the afrikaans name, maagpynbos.

References Grysbok Environmental Education Trail: Vegetation . 2005 [Online]. Available: [14 October 2013] Joffe, P. 2001. Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants: A South African Guide . South Africa: Briza Publications Manning, J. 2001. First Field Guide to Succulents of Southern Africa . South Africa: Struik Publishers Reynolds, Y. nd. Plants of southern Africa. [Online]. Available: http://www.plantzafrica. com/frames/plantsfram.htm [10 July 2013] Scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis). 2003. [Online]. Available: scarlet-pimpernel/anagallis-arvensis/ [15 October 2013] Van der Spuy, U. 1971. Wild Flowers of South Africa for the Garden . South Africa: Hugh Keartland Publishers Van Wyk, B & Smith, G. 2005. Guide to the Aloes of South Africa . Second edition. South Africa: Briza Publication

Kelly Mc Iver is a young Port Elizabeth based photographer and artist, who uses her artistic background to promote and enhance the world around her. In 2011 she obtained her National Diploma in Fine Art at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and is currently completing her third year of study for her National Diploma in Photography at the same university. Kelly Mc Iver predominately works within the genres of documentary, portraiture, nature and landscape photography. Her art focuses on drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking. Her love of everything to do with art began from a very young age and through the possibility of education, she has improved her skills both creatively and technically. Overall she aims to use any form of her artistic skills to capture her interpretation of life.

Plants from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Nature Reserve - Kelly Mc Iver  

This book is made up of examples of the plants from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Universities Nature Reserve with an inclusion photograp...