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CONSERVATION

Spring Flower Watch: Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve

AUG 19, 2020 | Written and photographed by Zoë Chapman Poulsen.

Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve

 

 

The second edition of our weekly Spring Flower Watch comes from Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve. Each week this spring we will be taking you on a virtual tour of some of the best places to see the spring flowers, both for those of you planning to hit the road now restrictions on interprovincial travel have been lifted, as well as for those of you who would still prefer to stay home.

 

Above: View from the summit of the Vanrhyn’s Pass across the Knersvlakte.

 

The small Northern Cape Town of Nieuwoudtville where the reserve is based is located on the Bokkeveld Escarpment, reached by the winding Vanrhyn’s Pass. The plateau has a diversity of different vegetation types including renosterveld, fynbos and succulent karoo and is world famous for its diversity of flowering bulbs that bring spectacular displays during spring.

Above: View across the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve during the peak of spring flowering season in August. Hantam National Botanical Garden is visible in the distance.

 

Encompassing over 100 Ha of Hantam-Roggeveld Dolerite Renosterveld, the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve is managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Hantam Municipality. Entrance to the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve is free for visitors. The reserve is home to more than 300 plant species, of which many are of conservation concern including several local endemics.

 

Above: Hesperantha vaginata in bloom at the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve.

 

Also known as the Harlequin Evening Flower, the distinctive bright yellow and brown blooms of Hesperantha vaginata are hard to miss. This stunning bulb is endemic to the Bokkeveld Plateau from the Nieuwoudtville area eastwards to Calvinia. The odourless flowers are pollinated by the monkey beetle Clania glenlyonensis, who use the flowers for mating as well as feeding on the pollen.

 

Above: Diascia cardiosepala

 

Look out for the delicate tiny purple flowers of Diascia cardiosepala, which grows predominantly on deep red dolerite derived clays. Flowering takes place from August to October. This species is also endemic to the Bokkeveld Escarpment.

 

Above: Aptosimium indivisum

 

In drier places, Aptosimium indivisum, also known as the Karoo Violet, can be seen. It is found throughout southern Africa on dry clay flats.

 

Above: Colchicum coloratum

 

A rather quirky-looking customer to look out for is Colchicum coloratum, appropriately named the ‘Red Cup and Saucer’ due to its unusual morphology. It grows on heavy red clays derived from dolerite eastwards to Botterkloof.

Look out for next week’s edition of Spring Flower Watch, where we will take you along to visit the Biedouw Valley in the Cederberg.

 

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