Celebrate, support biodiversity
Help protect our wildflower heritage with CREW
South Africa’s wildflower diversity is legendary but, in many areas, threatened. CREW [Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers] is a citizen science programme that works nationally with volunteers to survey and monitor plants of conservation concern. In 2014, an Eastern Cape CREW centre was established in Grahamstown, under the leadership of Vathiswa Zikishe – the Eastern Cape coordinator, based at the RU Botany Department.
Vathiswa has just launched the Eastern Cape’s third field season, expanding the programme to include the Port Elizabeth and St Francis CREW areas (these groups have been active for some years – before the establishment of the CREW node in Grahamstown).
The 2017 field trip schedule will cover areas as far afield as the Tsitsikamma Mountains and Baviaanskloof Wilderness area in the west, to Igoda near East London.
Vathiswa encourages interaction between members across the province. She has planned a diversity of trips, ranging from easy to more adventurous; one can choose to participate based on one’s availability as well as fitness.
A highlight will be a workshop on crassulas, run by Dr Tracey Nowell on 21 October in Grahamstown.
Tracey will give an overview of this family of succulent plants – which includes the gardener’s favourite, the jade plant ( Crassula ovata) – and also focus on the genera found in the Eastern Cape. Best of all, there will be a practical session.
If you are interested in joining CREW or doing the workshop, contact Vathiswa on
or visit CREW’s Facebook page. tor of geotourism. If you would like to contribute to this local signage project, please contact Roy Lubke, who is coordinating the project and also working on improving the signage on the reserve flora and vegetation, together with Tony Dold and Tony Palmer. More info: ru.ac.za
One of the main plants in the Succulent Thicket of the Ecca Nature Reserve – and also of course in the National Addo Elephant Park – is spekboom, Portulacaria afra, also known as ‘elephant’s food’. It has recently attained fame as being very effective in removing carbon from the atmosphere, and is being planted in many areas of degraded Succulent Thicket in our region. Spekboom has all sorts of wonderful uses, including:
• Suck a leaf to treat heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke
• Rub crushed leaves on blisters and corns on the feet to provide relief
• Chew the leaves to treat a sore throat or mouth infections Use the juice as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn
• And last, but not least, buy the honey made from spekboom flowers – it is utterly delicious!
Find us Online: www.grocotts. co.za and type ‘environews’ in the search box.
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