Gerrit van Ede led a small group on an orchid exploration between Christmas and New Year—the first day of the new lockdown.
By James van den Heever
For a moment, it seemed as though the immediate amended Level 3 lockdown announced on 28 December 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa would scupper the planned orchid-hunting excursion on the 29th. The detailed press briefing was only due to take place at 10h00, by which time we would hope to be on the reserve and besides, several of the participants, including the leader, were only leaving Gauteng early in the morning.
Luckily, the Reserve Manager, Shirley Sibiya, got the nod from the high-ups in the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency to go ahead, and a group of 11 set off from Milly’s on a perfect morning.
We hiked from the office to the waterfall and then beyond, cutting round eventually to join the “tourist road” near the married quarters—a not inconsiderable three-and-a-half-hour jaunt in the burning high-altitude sun of Verloren Valei. The veld was looking very good with wildflowers everywhere although it did seem as though there were perhaps fewer orchids than in previous years—perhaps because of lower rainfall last year.
After a much-needed lunch break back under the ouhout trees at the office, we set off for the orchid hotspot on the wetlands adjacent to the provincial road, where we were able to locate many fine specimens.
As always, it was a privilege to be out on foot in this beautiful reserve in the company of an enthusiastic expert who was willing to impart so much information—along with other knowledgeable people. In addition, it was a great pleasure to welcome three new members to the Friends organisation—Dawn Needham, Tony Dustan and Phillip Niewoudt.
Thanks to everyone who came along and made it such an enjoyable day—and to Gerrit especially, of course.
Phillip Niewoudt kindly shared his hit list for the day:
- Corycium dracomontanum
- Corycium nigrescens (Note: still checking out if it was C. nigrescens)
- Disa chrysostachya
- Disa cooperi
- Disa saxicola
- Disa stachyoides
- Disa versicolor
- Disperis renibractea
- Eulophia hians form aestivalis
- Eulophia ovalis var ovalis
- Habenaria thysonii
- Holothrix scopularia
- Neobolusia tysonii
- Satyrium longicauda var longicauda
- Schizochilus zeyheri
If anybody has any additions, please let me know.