2.) Sharing this seepage
where N. angulata grows are a number of other bulbous
plants. In early February there are masses of the deep pink
Tritonia discolor which, although they have rudimentary corms,
spread chiefly by means of rhizomes. Hesperantha huttonii, a
very delicate plant flowers in March followed in April by its more
robust cousin, Hesperantha pulchra. The showy pink Chironia
krebsii also prefers damp spots.
Scattered over the better
drained slopes of the mountain are a large variety of other
flowers. Two types of Agapanthus bloom all over in midsummer - the
large and showy deep blue Agapanthus praecox which grows
particulary amongst the rocks in the kranses, has been especially
named as the Mt. Thomas form. Near to it one finds the diminutive
Agapanthus campanulatum, with short leaves and dainty flowers
carried on stems scarcely 30 cm high. Strangely there is absolutely
no evidence of hybridization between these two species. Similarly,
some species of Kniphofia flower at the same time. The robust
bright red-orange Kniphofia uvaria is so different from
dainty little Kniphofia triangularis, both of which flower in
mid-summer. Kniphofia parviflora, a very different looking
poker with its its small pale yellow flowers all carried on on side
of the stem, is also common on this mountian.
Dieramas number but one -
Dierama pulcherrimum - but it is a particularly robust tall form
with large pink flowers, blooming in autumn. The spectacular yellow
Moraea reticulata with its very long floppy leaves, sometimes
up to 1,5 meters, is also common, flowering in autumn. Urginia
capitata is an interesting bulb that flowers in early spring.
Gladiolus are represented by Gladiolus dalenii and
Gladiolus ecklonii. Mt. Thomas is also a habitat for the
endemic grey-leaved Watsonia
which blooms profusely with large, dense, deep pink flowers on short
stems at Christmas time. This is truly one the most beautiful
Some years ago I observed a
number of very small, thin watsonia-like plants on a rocky dolerite
outcrop on Mt. Thomas, but no sign of flowers. Two bulbs I
collected flowered the following year in my garden - short and
small, pale orange blooms of a watsonia I had never seen before.
Peter Goldblatt , author of the definitive work on watsonias, who
visited us last year, is of the opinion that it is an undescribed
species which required some investigation.
In a brief survey such as this
there are so many flowers that go unmentioned. Just to name a few
more - many varied species of Hypoxis, the spectacular parasitic
Harveya that turn jet black as they wither, spreading Crotalarias
with their little yellow flowers, Diaschias, many Pelargoniums,
yellow and pink Helichrysums, and not forgetting the lovely
deciduous grass aloe, Aloe ecklonis, the small neat Scilla
nervosa, Albucas, Ornithogalums, Ledebourias and so many more.
SURVEY OF THE MONTANE GRASSLAND OF THE EASTERN
SECTION OF THE AMATOLA RANGE.
Prepared for Karen Kirkman,
SA Forest Company Ltd
Prepared by Cameron and Rhoda
McMaster, PO Box 26, Napier 7270,
We were commissioned by
Safcol in the year 2000 to make an intensive study of the montane
grassland of the Amatola mountains above the town of Stutterheim.
We are dedicated naturalists who reside just under the mountain and
because of our interest in indigenous flora and fauna we have been
involved in an intimate life-long relationship with the Amatola
Mountains and Forests.
While the mountain grassland of the Eastern Amatolas is one of the
very few almost pristine areas where the original flora and
bio-diversity still exists, it is currently under severe threat. In
this study, which involved a survey of the flowering plants, the
current status of the area was assessed, the threats to its
preservation were identified and the various land-use options and
management strategies were examined. As a repository of many
beautiful, rare and potentially useful plants, most of which have
been destroyed elsewhere, these mountains are part of the heritage
of the people of the Eastern Cape.
This implies that we
have a sacred duty to preserve in trust our natural heritage for the
benefit of future generations. This is especially true of sensitive
areas, such as mountain grassland, which are not suitable for
These mountains are also of
utmost importance as a source of quality water. The value of their
potential as a water source for the communities below is far more
important than any other land-use option. This is complemented by
their value for eco-tourism, a potential that can only be realised
if the region is properly conserved.
The Amatola montane grassland is one of the few areas in our
province that is State land and which, until recently, enjoyed State
protection. Our report suggests that it is necessary to consider
ways in which its preservation and conservation can be assured.
This will necessitate an investigation into the various options that
are possible in order to protect the area as a Nature Reserve.
Recommendations and suggestions for the management of the montane
grassland are set out under the various sections to which they
pertain and are listed together in Section 9 at the end of the