Know, grow, protect and enjoy South Africa's indigenous plants
Location: KWA-ZULU NATAL COAST, South Africa
KZN Coastal Branch
The Natal Coastal Branch was established under “Smithy” van Wyk Smith in 1986. In 1997 the Durban & Coastal Branch (later ‘KZN Coastal Branch’) was re-launched by Wally Menne and a group of keen botanists and volunteers. A highly successful Indigenous Plant Fair has been held nearly every year for over 20 years.
About the branch
The Plant Fair is a highlight of the local gardening calendar and comes about through the enthusiastic support of volunteers and a small hard-working committee. In addition to the Plant Fair, the branch has a full programme of regular outings, talks, indigenous garden tours and nursery visits. These are all open to the general public, and most are fund-raisers for the branch.
About the Area
The KZN Coastal Branch covers an area with extremely varied vegetation. The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany (MPA) Hotspot is an internationally recognised centre of floristic diversity and endemism on the eastern seaboard of southern Africa. The coastal area is large, and includes the intriguing Maputaland sand forests in the north, through the enormous wetlands of iSimangaliso Wetland Park – SA’s first World Heritage Site. There are riverine, coastal and dune forests and bush, floriferous grasslands, mangrove swamps and estuaries, Natal Sandstone krantzes, and the Pondoland Centre of Endemism in the south. There is so much to ‘know, grow, protect and enjoy’!
The Botanical Education Trust is a project of our Branch. Spearheaded by Charles Botha, with the help of eminent Trustees, it operates independently of the Branch, and has strict operating guidelines. It was launched in 2007. The Trust has grown to have investments of over R3-million, and the interest is used to fund annual grants towards conservation and research projects across the country. Many of these interesting projects have been showcased in articles in Veld & Flora. Further donations would be greatly appreciated.
The area is very well served by plant publications and has been home to several well-known plant experts and writers. Marloth Medal winners from our region have included Tony Abbott, Elsa Pooley, Geoff Nichols and Neil Crouch, while Hugh Nicholson and Tony Abbott have won BotSoc’s national Flora Conservation Medal. The Branch partners with the Flora & Fauna Publications Trust and sells its informative books at BotSoc events. The Branch has published its own book: Bring Butterflies Back to your Garden, by Charles & Julia Botha, which is an indispensable guide to gardening with indigenous plants in order to attract butterflies.
The journal, PlantLife, was started by Tony Abbott in 1989. Every plant enthusiast should have a full set – back issues can be ordered from the Branch Office. In 2005, David Styles took over as editor and the Branch came on board to provide editorial and administrative support. The journal metamorphosed in 2018 into a free electronic blog, PlantLifeSA run by Graham Grieve.
The Branch has also published popular, informative Indigenous Gardening Handbooks in conjunction with our Plant Fairs. These are timeless resources and are still much in demand and available from the Branch Office and at events.
Although we don’t yet have a SANBI Botanical Garden in our area, there are the beautiful Durban Botanic Gardens, the oldest surviving botanical gardens in Africa. They were established in 1849 to test various tree species for agricultural purposes. They were initially situated on the banks of the mNgeni River, but owing to poor soil and the hazards of hippo and crocs were moved to the present site on the Berea in 1851. The Branch partners with the Gardens in several ways. We have adopted the Indigenous Forest section which displays some exciting sand forest species. The Gardens have kindly allowed the Branch the free use of an office as well as a discounted rate for the use of the hall for talks, and other benefits.
Ultimately our vision is to establish a Biodiversity Park next to the ancient Hawaan Forest. Strides have been made recently in this direction.
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Monday to Friday 08h30 to 16h00. Closed on weekends and public holidays.
T +27 (0) 21 797 2090
Or contact us by sending a Whatsapp message to +27 65 922 6163 during our office hours.