Cel­e­brate, sup­port bio­di­ver­sity

Grocott's Mail - - OUTSIDE -

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

Fab­u­lous spekboom

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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