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Spring Flower Watch: Bosch Berg Nature Reserve, Kwazulu-Natal

NOV 11, 2020 | Written and photos by Isabel Johnson.

Bosch Berg Nature Reserve

 

 

Rolling grasslands dotted with patches of eastern mistbelt forest, wetlands and rocky outcrops characterise the Drakensberg foothills where Bosch Berg Nature Reserve is situated near the small village of Boston in Impendle in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal. The site was officially declared in 2015 through the KZN Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, a process facilitated by the Botanical Society.

In spring the grasslands are dominated by grasses such as Themeda triandra (rooigras), Tristachya leucothrix (hairy trident grass) and Harpochloa falx (caterpillar grass) in full flower. These moist grasslands have evolved over many thousands of years and should be mosaic burnt every two to three years to remove moribund vegetation and control the incursion of woody species.

 

Above: Harpochloa falx in flower with feathery stigmas and dangling anthers

 

The nature reserve is also home to a myriad of geophytic forbs (non-grass flowering plants) including many threatened and narrow endemics. These long-lived plants have robust underground bulbs, corms and lignotubers which enable them to survive the cold winters and fires. New records from a walk a few days ago are the graceful hairbell Dierama luteoalbidum (a Vulnerable KZN midlands endemic), and the long-tubed Gladiolus longicollis, which is pollinated by nocturnal hawkmoths.

 

Above: Dierama luteoalbidum a vulnerable KZN midlands endemic

 

Above: The long-tubed hawkmoth pollinated Gladiolus longicollis.

 

A threat to these grasslands is Curry’s Post Weed (Phymaspermum acerosum: Asteraceae) an indigenous woody perennial originally confined to forest margins which has become very invasive. Botsoc is currently assisting with a research project based at Bosch Berg Nature Reserve which is investigating ways to control this species.

Bosch Berg Nature Reserve is not open to the public but there are two secluded fishing cottages situated in on an adjacent area of the farm where one can watch otters swimming in the dams and hear the call of the tree hyrax in the close-by forest patches at night. Hikes through the nature reserve can be arranged.

 

Above: Hermannia woodii, Ledebouria ovatifolia, Cyrtanthus breviflorus, Hypoxis parvula var. albiflora and Oxalis smithiania

 

Further Reading

Pooley, E. (1998) A field guide to the wildflowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. The Flora Publications Trust, Durban, South Africa.

Johnson, I. (2020) ‘Stewardship and grasslands: An interview with Isabel Johnson’, Botanical Society of South Africa blog.

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