Orchid field trip with Doug McMurtry

The renowned orchid expert shared his knowledge with a mostly young group.

Doug McMurtry speaks to the group before setting out into the field (Photograph: Cora Hoexter)

Doug McMurtry, one of South Africa’s leading orchid experts, kindly agreed to lead a field trip to Verloren Valei on 26 February 2022. Accompanied by fellow expert, Shane Burns, Doug drove up from Nelspruit to meet a group of mostly young and enthusiastic people eager to get out into the field.

Before that, Doug sketched a brief history of how the botanical riches of South Africa were explored, and urged the next generation to continue the work of understanding and protecting what is by any reckoning one of the most diverse floral kingdoms in the world.

The group then drove to the waterfall area where participants spread over the veld looking for plants and buttonholing Doug and Shane for help in identification. Although it was late in the season, there were still many specimens to be observed and, after all the rains, the veld was lush and green. The Lunsklip was running well as compared with the much lower volumes (to the eye) of water in December.

Threatening clouds and intermittent rain could not spoil an enjoyable outing (Photograph: Cora Hoexter)

The wet summer of 2021-22 lived up to its name, with clouds beginning to build up from the south towards midday. We removed to the main wetlands on the provincial road and, bundled up in waterproofs, continued our search. By around 1400 people were starting to think about lunch and, for some, the trip back to Gauteng.

We are very grateful to Doug and Shane for giving up their time to share their knowledge with us. It’s trips like this that build up a group of Verloren Valei supporters.

Orchid list (courtesy of Doug McMurtry, Carel Fourie, Tystan Nadasen and Marthinus Vosloo)

Brownleea parviflora

Corycium nigrescens

Disa cooperi

Disa saxicola

Disa brevicornis

Disa nervosa

Disa versicolor

Disperis cardiophora

Disperis cooperi

Disperis tysonii

Disperis stenoplectron

Disperis waeli

Habenaria epipactidea

Habenaria clavata

Neobolusia tysonii

Pterygodium nigrescens / dracomontanum

Satyrium cristatum

Satyrium hallackii subsp occellatum

Satyrium longicauda

Satyrium ocellatum

Satyrium parviflorum

Schizochilus cecilli subsp culveri

Schizochilus zeyheri

Other flora (courtesy of Trystan Nadasen):

Brunsvigia rudulosa

Crassula alba 

Crassula vaginata 

Gladiolus papilo

Gladiolus calcaratus

Hesperantha baurii

Nerine angustifolia

Brownleea parviflora  (Carel Fourie)
Disa saxicola  (Carel Fourie)
Disperis stenoplectron (Carel Fourie)
Disperis tysonii  (Carel Fourie)
Disperis waelii (Carel Fourie)
Satyrium parviflorum  (Carel Fourie)
Schizochilus cecilli culveri (Carel Fourie)

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