Newsletter February 2019
Steenbok Nature Reserve Management Committee MeetingAt the recent meeting of the Steenbok MANCOM the following were discussed:
- Formal environmental protection from SANParks still awaited but on track.
- After a rest of two months weeding/spraying of new growth in aliens west of tennis courts now in progress and balance of the alien/invasives program down to Kingfisher Creek is planned to commence later in February.
- The major upgrade in the flora and fauna sections of the Steenbok Nature Reserve website is now live. Have a look at www.steenboknaturereserve.org.za.
- A Steenbok newsletter will be issued more regularly and distributed by email to our membership.
- Management is conscious of the erratic service in cleaning litter bins and is taking steps to improve the service.
- Temporary problems with the irrigation system are being attended to and the drip system to the tree copses is being completely replaced.
- Displays on our notice boards are being brightened up and where necessary signage is being restored.
- We have come to realise that upkeep of memorial signage is best attended to by associated families and regret that it is impractical for management to continue to provide this service.
- Following Diana's recent appointment it is an opportune time to appeal for additional volunteers. Whatever your passion or skills we have an opening for you.
- To ensure that we are aware of developments in the wider Knysna area Diana and Letti attended the first Knysna Park Forum meeting early in February.
Continue to enjoy our amazing Reserve and let us have any suggestions you would like to put forward.
Contact details for:
Di 083 254 5092 email address: email@example.com
Roger 083 754 5390 email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Flowering now in Steenbok Nature Reserve
Agapanthus praecox. These beautiful blue flowers can be seen at the entrance, in the indigenous garden and all along the pathways. The Rhizome are traditionally worn as a necklace by Xhosa brides to promotes child birth.
Bitterbossie (Afr.) sighted in the recently cleared area west of the tennis courts. Chironia baccifera L. Family: Gentianaceae, Common names: Christmas berry (Eng.); aambeibossie, bitterbossie (Afr.).This is a fast-growing, rounded suffrutex (shrub with woody stems only at the base), which grows to an average height of 450 mm but can reach 1 m. The leaves are small, narrow and dark green. It has starry, bright pink flowers, followed by red berries. It flowers from November to January. Walk along the paths in the rehabilitated area in Steenbok Nature Reserve and you will spot this small pretty flower.
Crassula perfoliata (Red treasure) is truly living up to its name at the moment. It can be seen as you approach the Indigenous Gardens and is, as the photos show, as bright red as can be. This oblong and sickled-shaped leaved succulent is easily propagated from cuttings or seeds (which are tiny). The greyish-green leaves are positioned in opposite rows. The small flowers are arranged in a rounded to flat-topped inflorescence on the end of a stalk which can reach 100mm in height. They tend to grow solitarily just like the one in Steenbok.
Salvia chamelaeagnea (Bloublomsalie), this easy to grow, dense evergreen shrub is a member of the sage family and can reach a height of 2m. It can be found in the Indigenous Gardens at Steenbok close to the main paved path. The light violet-blue flowers are cleverly created. The pale lower lips are ideal insects to land on for nectar collection. The top lip of the flower forms a protective cap over the anthers and stigma. This plant is well adapted to survive fires as it resprouts from its woody rootstock. Like many of the sage family, S. Chamelaeagnea can be used to treat many illnesses such as coughs or diarrhea.
The alien/invasive plants eradication programFollowing the extensive and successful alien/invasive plants eradication program implemented between April and October last year, it was necessary to take a break to allow a review of how the flora was responding. Three months later, the indigenous flora was showing promising new growth, but simultaneously, and as expected, the alien/invasive plants were popping up and growing vigorously. This is especially so in the areas immediately south-west of the tennis courts and further west along Links Drive where the Reserve ends.
A follow-up maintenance program was then initiated with Ivy Garden Services in these two areas. This will continue for the rest of the year, and if necessary in years to follow. It involves the eradication of selected young alien/invasive plants, by 'weeding' and/or application of approved herbicides, as recommended by our consultant Rudi Minnie of Credo Environmental Services. Early in the new year completion of the major programme re-commenced. Initially alien/invasive eradication will be completed in the south west area and should be completed by mid-February. In mid March it is planned to extend the programme to King Fisher Creek and the approach thereto.
Early blooms in Steenbok Nature ReserveThe Brunsvigia Orientalis Emergence of these spectacular crimson Candelabra flowers is a common sight in Steenbok during February, March and April. The bud of this large bulb pushes up through the sand on its sturdy stem before a leaf can be seen, and produces up to 40 flowers in a head shaped like a rounded candelabra. As the flowers fade the ovaries enlarge and become papery and eventually the flower stem breaks away and the flowerhead is blown about, tumbling over the ground and scattering its seeds. These flowerheads blowing in the wind like tumbleweeds no doubt give rise to the Afrikaans name Perdespookbossie.
Berry trees in Steenbok Nature Reserve Harpephylium caffrum Common names: wild plum (Eng.); wildepruim (Afr.); umgwenya (Zulu, Xhosa). The tasty plum-like fruits first appear green and then turn red when they ripen in autumn; they contain a single seed and are enjoyed by people, mammals and birds.
This very striking and well known plant is found naturally from the Eastern Cape to tropical Africa and can be spotted in many places in Steenbok at the moment, especially in the Indigenous garden.Gloriosa superba (Flame lily), which from above looks like our stunning Seedpod, is a tuberous perennial with sprawling or climbing stems. It can reach 2m in height thanks to its tendrils found at the tip of the plant. The flowers are bi-coloured yellow and orange-red, deepening in colour when ageing. They flower from November to March and their petals do look like flames with their crisped margins. Even though G. superba has medicinal uses ALL parts of the plant are poisonous and wrong dosage can be lethal.
RainfallAt 35mm, the December rainfall was a bit disappointing. However, looking at 2018 as a whole, it’s been a good year - a smidgen ahead of the ten year average and way better than 2017. Our thanks to Peter Dieterich for his diligent collection of our rainfall figures.
Being January there is little that one can say about the rainfall figure other than it is a very muted start to the year. At 39 mm, it is close to the 10 year average for January, but much less than the splendid January of last year. Given that we only have a single month, the cumulative chart is not significant at this stage but it will be included in February’s figures.
Succession PlanAs part of implementation of our recently adopted Succession Plan Diana Stromberg has been appointed Deputy Manager of Steenbok Nature Reserve.
Roger Voysey reminisces on Diana's involvement with Steenbok.
"In the three years as a member of our management team Di has taken the lead in conceiving and managing the highly successful “Shared Recipes” and “Look Deep into Nature” publications and has guided the development of our amazing, informative FACEBOOK site with a wide and respected following. I first met Di in Steenbok Park (with her camera) over a year before her appointment to our MANCOM and even then she was photographing and identifying flora and fauna species. In the past four years her environmental knowledge, interest and fascination has grown and she has developed a lovely skill in describing flora and fauna in a professional and easy to read manner. She is thus the ideal person to lead us into the next phase of development of our new sophisticated web site. I might add that she is now respected as a leading photographer on the Garden Route.
During the recent holiday period Di deputised admirably. She spent much time in the Reserve looking, observing and chatting and as a result the irrigation system, notice boards, rubbish removal, stand by garden maintenance and other arrangements coped well with the increased number of holiday visitors.
We are confident that Di has the ability, understanding and passion to take on this new and important role."
This is the first of many steps being introduced. Another is our appeal for more volunteers.
Talk to Di 083 254 5092 or Roger 083 754 5390
JOIN the FRIENDS of STEENBOK NATURE RESERVE by:
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WhatsApp: Di 083 254 5092 / Roger 083 754 5390