Other than the Boland granite fynbos there are special habitats such as the riverine and tributaries of the Sir Lowry’s Pass river and its seeps and fynbos wetlands. A herbarium was started in October 2005 due to an initiative to record plants and species of two sites on the farm that are of botanical value. For this a botanical survey was conducted by G.J. Campbell-Young resulting in a list of species (see Appendix) providing a good head-start for continues recording and collecting and extension of the herbarium (see Appendix for a sample of the herbarium). The two sites are described below:
This is an area of over about 12 ha in extent of natural vegetation situated in the heart of the Wedderwill Estate. An area is sign-posted for hiking and horse riding for recreational purposes for the residents living on Wedderwill. The area is blessed with two little streams running all year round down two steep valleys and joining up to feed a dam further down at the southern end of the area. This area was mainly cultivated with pine trees for the paper industry prior to a big fire in 1997. The fire that destroyed the pines was used to initiate the idea of keeping the area clear of re-growth many of which were pines, but also other alien invasive vegetation, including Gum Trees, Hakkia, Port Jackson and Blue Wattle.
The condition of the fynbos vegetation almost 10 years later is, according to G.J. Campbell-Young, in an excellent state. It is relatively mature and would benefit from a bum when it has reached the about 10 years of age. The vegetation is dominated by mature members of the Protea family, including Leucadendron rubrum, Leucadendron cf. tinctum and Leucospermum conocarpodendron, slangbos Stoebe vulgaris, taaibos Rhus angustifolia and several Restio species. The vegetation is species-rich. Many more species, especially bulbous species, is noticeable earlier in the season. The peak flowering time for fynbos is late winter to early spring (mid-August to mid-September). Many species flower in October, but the best time to survey for species richness is during peak flowering time.
There are a few young individuals of invasive alien tree species at the site, including pine and Port Jackson, which are due to be cleared in May every year when farming activities allow it to spent time with the workers in the area. There are weeds and weedy grass species at the side of the site bordering the dirt road (parallel to the main brick road on top) that recede as the cover of natural vegetation becomes denser.
The lower part of the Glades has suffered some impact from building activity around the stream. A survey has been done on the damage and a rehabilitation plan was set up and is now (June 2006) in progress of being implemented. The steep eroded riverbed is slightly levelled out after valuable plants have been removed. Kikuyu grass is being killed and other unwanted plants eradicated. A hessian cloth is imbedded into the river bed as to prevent further erosion and at round bends stones are positioned to stabilize the small embankment. The hessian reaching 5m out in each direction of the stream is poked with holes for the re-implanting of the plants found in the area or bought for the purpose of imbedding into the disturbed vicinity. It is estimated that in a years time most of the Hessian would have degraded away and the stream would have brought down some seeds to re-germinate the entire bed.
An area of round about 2 ha in size of natural vegetation is situated around the precinct called “The Ridge” and lies on the western boundary of the estate joining Myrtle Grove. The corners of the area have the following coordinates:
1. S 34* 06 041’ E 018* 55.020 2. S 34* 06 106’ E 018* 55.052
3. S 34* 06 149’ E 018* 54.914 4. S 34* 06 040’ E 018* 54.848
5. S 34* 06 034’ E 018* 54.863 6. S 34* 06 127’ E 018* 54.918
7. S 34* 06 101’ E 018* 55.001 8. S 34* 06 105’ E 018* 54.992
This area is sign-posted for hiking and horse riding along the western and northern boundary of the site. The fynbos vegetation in this area is also in an excellent condition with very few weeds/aliens randomly dispersed over the area. Part of this section (about ½ ha) of land was still infested with Hakkia, Port Jackson, Pine and Gum tree varieties. This was cleared in the winter of 2006 and has shown good progress since then although some pine trees have been left standing for erosion avoidance.
There are more species per unit area at this site than in “The Glades”. This indicates higher species diversity for this area. The reason for this according to G.J. Campbell-Young is probably because a large part of this area seems to have experienced a fire more recently than “The Glades”, so more species are appearing as is typical of fynbos after a rejuvenating fire. If “The Glades” were to experience a fire, it would also show an increased species diversity. The species compositions are similar at both sites, but there are also significant differences (see checklists below), hence it would be sensible to monitor both sites separately.
Species: Plants are grouped into breeding populations called species, and each is given a two-part name in Latin: eg the small brown afrikander is Gladiolus maculatus . This is its full scientific name. Another glad which is similar in appearance to this but not identical could be anyone of a number of other relatives, close to but not usually breeding with it. These will share the first half of its name, Gladiolus, but will bear one of many other distinct second names such as debilis, the small painted lady, etc. Every plant has a Latin name constructed like these, consisting of two parts, the generic and the specific names. The first word designates the genus and the second the species. Together they refer to a unique kind of plant, also referred to as a species.
Genus: The name ‘Gladiolus’ is a genus name, this particular genus containing an assemblage of some 250 kinds of plant having a number of characters in common, especially in those of the flower, indicating a shared ancestor some million years ago. So species, (written and pronounced species, whether singular or plural), each with its own double name, are grouped into genera (genus, singular).
Families: Genera can likewise be placed in larger assemblages called families. All the members of a family are believed to be descended from a common but even more remote ancestor and share many important characters in common. The family of the glads is the family named after a typical genus, the irises: the Iridaceae or iris-like plants. The family name is a feminine plurallation word always ending in -ae and nearly always-aceae. Most of our Iridaceae share the following common characters: they are mostly soft perennials often dying down seasonally each year. Their leaves, sword-shaped or narrower, are usually arranged in two rows.
Herbarium: This was set up with the help of the “Stellenbosch to Hermanus – South African Wild Flower Guide 5”. In some instances the genus and the species could be identified but the direct description of the species was not available in the guide. In this case the next closest species of the same genus was used to give characteristics of the plant where often is also referred to similar species giving their short descriptions and deviations. The herbarium at this stage consists of three folders and some 82 collected plant species of the 165 recorded species. This herbarium can be viewed at in the tasting rooms of our cellar.
SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) is currently experiencing a staff shortage and as a result, there is no identification service available for several plant families, including Proteaceae and Restionaceae. Eleven specimens collected from The Glades and The Ridge have been submitted to SANBI for identification. A further eight specimens have been submitted to Mrs Dorrat Haaksma, a private contractor, for identification. Some of the species are named e.g. Lobelia sp. This means that the species is a member of the genus Lobelia, but the actual species is unknown. Often when no flowers or fruit are present, it is virtually impossible to identify a species. These species can be identified when they next flower. The abbreviation ‘cf.’ means ‘confer’, or ‘compare with’, so that species is closest to the second name given, but exact identity was not verified due to lack of flowers/fruit. Many of the specimens collected will have new locality records for some of the known species and this information is very useful for SANBI.
If any Red Data List species (species that are rare or endangered to some degree) are found, they will be among the specimens that have been sent to SANBI. The likelihood of finding RDL species is fairly low, because the type of vegetation at the sites is not a critically endangered or endangered vegetation type, being in a mountainous region. However, the possibility of finding RDL species should never be ruled out, especially after a fire has stimulated possible dormant species to be rejuvenated.