05 March 2018

Drought survivors

At the recent AGM, Fiona Watson, Botanical Officer of the Friends of Meadowridge Common Committee, gave a talk on the Meadowridge Common plants which have survived the drought that is gripping Cape Town. She presented a slideshow of her photographs of these plants, many of which are available from nurseries. Fiona recommended that gardeners in the area try to change from water-needy plants to these hardy indigenous plants that are suited to hot dry summers. A link to SANBI’s PlantZAfrica website with its wealth of information about our indigenous plants and how to grow them is provided where possible. Just click on the plant name for the link.
Carpobrotus edulis.

Ruschia geminiflora is Redlisted as Vulnerable.

Dimorphotheca pluvialis grows very well on the common in the spring, even though historically it didn't occur here until someone sprinkled some seeds.
Salvia africana-lutea
Salvia chamelaeagnea
Oxalis obtusa

Oxalis pes-caprae

Oxalis purpurea

Diastella proteoides is Redlisted as Critically Endangered

Lecuadendron salginum

Struthiola ciliata
Struthiola dodecandra

 Serruria glomerata is Redlisted as Vulnerable.
Pelargonium cucullatum

Further information can be obtained from your local nursery, and many of Cape Town's specialist indigenous nurseries like Good Hope Gardens Nursery, Dr Boomslang Indigenous Nursery and the Kirstenbosch Garden Centre tel: 021 797 1305).  Possibly the best source of local Cape Flats Sand Fynbos plants is from Caitlin von Witt who works with the City of Cape Town amongst other organizations involved with the rehabilitation of Cape Peninsula fynbos. Contact her to set up a visit to her nursery here. I highly recommend Caitlin’s Facebook page too. Specialists at Kirstenbosch are also willing to give you information about growing indigenous plants. Click here for contacts.

01 March 2018

Meadowridge Common AGM

The AGM of the Friends of Meadowridge Common was held on Monday 26 February 2018 in the Meadowridge Common Library.
The Chairman, Roger Graham welcomed members and guests and gave an overview of the year - including news of the new fence enclosing the sports fields and thus cutting off access to the Common and the dramatic decrease in the 80 year old pine trees eleven of which succumbed to the drought and fell down. This has necessitated the preventative felling of several others with the trucks and workers causing some damage to the Common's plants. The Friends have laid woodchip paths in the exposed, sandy areas and we hope that the drought will soon break. Fiona Watson, the Botanical Officer, is very concerned about the state of the Common as the number of plants has decreased dramatically in the last few years.
Other noteworthy happenings during the year included the incorporation of two new storyboards on the Common, one on the Garden Cities development scheme of which Meadowridge is one, and the other on William Purcell. The successful and enjoyable Spring Walk had been held on a September afternoon, a change from the usual morning walk, led by botanist Stuart Hall who is about to receive his PhD. Congratulations Stuart. The Friends also held a winter cake sale which gave a little boost to the finances.
Longstanding Committee member, Gordon Evans, has stepped down from the Committee and a round of applause followed the announcement that it was his 90th birthday.
Fiona Watson, the Botanical Officer, presented a very interesting slideshow on Survivors of the Drought, (see next post) and after the usual presentation and adoption of the finances of the Society by Neville Postings, Roger handed the floor to our guest speaker, Alex Lansdowne. (Click here for a summary of the talk).
Alex Lansdowne was born and raised in Cape Town and his relationship with plants started at an early age. He grew up in the southern suburbs, vegetable gardening with his grandfather - who grew enough fresh produce to feed the family every day. That evolved into an appreciation for wild plants with the encouragement of environmental educator Wendy Hitchcock (of Meadowridge) whilst in school. Alex studied Public Policy at the University of Cape Town. After a short career in politics and marketing he grew frustrated with working inside and started his business as a Restoration Horticulture Conservationist. He then spent 2 years part time with Geert Sprangers, restoration horticulturist at The City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management branch. 
Alex now consults independently to landowners on plant conservation projects, with a particular focus on restoration and habitat rehabilitation. He has a particular passion for threatened habitat restoration and species conservation plans. One of his flagship projects is working with the City of Cape Town and the Friends of Rondebosch Common on the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project & the introduction of the beautiful Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata).

The Rondebosch Common Restoration Project and the introduction of Moraea aristata to the Common.

After the business of the AGM, our guest speaker, Alex Lansdowne, Restoration Horticulture Conservationist, presented his talk on the restoration of the enigmatic Moraea aristata to Rondebosch Common - a great way to kick off the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project. Meadowridge Common hopes to put a similar project into action one day in the near future.
Alex Lansdowne, guest speaker for the evening.


The Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata)
Roger Graham, chairman of the Friends of Meadowridge Common, thanking the evening's guest speaker, Alex Lansdowne for his most interesting talk.

 There are many conservation stories of species only just holding on against extinction. Moraea aristata stands out. This critically endangered, enigmatic irid has persisted on the grounds of the SA Astronomical Observatory for decades. Rondebosch Common, a sister conservation area to Meadowridge Common, is the only natural habitat left within its range.
Together with the Friends of Rondebosch Common, Alex Lansdowne managed the introduction of the Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata) to Rondebosch Common which shares a similar veld type (Cape Flats Sand Fynbos) to Meadowridge Common.
The talk focused on the first year's work establishing a new population of Moraea aristata, and the ambitions of the
Rondebosch Common Restoration Project over the next three years when it will be seen if the introduction can be declared a success or not.

Thanks to Zoe Paulson for the link to her blog,
Notes from a Cape Botanist where you can read more about the project and also to Graham Duncan (who supplied the bulbs for the project) for his article on Moraea artistata in PlantZAfrica.

12 February 2018

AGM and talk on Moraea aristata

Photo: Moraea aristata in its habitat at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Photo: Geert Sprangers.
THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE FRIENDS OF MEADOWRIDGE COMMON
will be held in the Meadowridge Library on Monday 26th February 2018 at 7.30 pm
After the brief business part of the evening, ALEX LANSDOWNE, Restoration Horticulture Conservationist, will be giving a talk on the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project and the introduction of Moraea aristata to the Common.
We hope to see you. Refreshments will be served and secure parking provided.
For more information, please contact Roger Graham at 021 7159206.

There are many conservation stories of species only just holding on against extinction. Moraea aristata stands out. This critically endangered, enigmatic irid has persisted on the grounds of the SA Astronomical Observatory for decades. Rondebosch Common, a sister conservation area to Meadowridge Common, is the only natural habitat left within its range.
Together with the Friends of Rondebosch Common, Alex Lansdowne managed the introduction of the Peacock Moraea (Moraea aristata) to Rondebosch Common which shares a similar veld type (Cape Flats Sand Fynbos) to Meadowridge Common.

The talk will focus on establishing a new population of Moraea aristata, and the ambitions of the Rondebosch Common Restoration Project.

06 November 2017

Bark Spider

Bark Spiders (Caerostris) contruct a large orb web at dusk, after first establishing a long bridge line. At dawn the orb web is destroyed and the spider retreats to a tree or bush on the bridge line.
This is the female of the species Caerostris sexcuspidata which is very common and widespread.

 


18 October 2017

Talk cancelled

The Friends of Meadowridge Common are sorry to announce that the talk by Prof. Eugene Moll on SHEPHERDING BACK BIODIVERSITY that was scheduled for Monday 30 October at the Meadowridge Library Hall, has been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

09 October 2017

Spring Walk 2017

This year's spring walk on Meadowridge Common was held on Sunday 20 October in the early afternoon. Taking time off from his studies for his Ph.D.,Stuart Hall (centre) very kindly led the walk. Cape Town is in the grip of one of its worst droughts, but there were still many interesting flowers to see. The weather was overcast and even a bit drizzly,
but the sun came out from time to time to reveal flowers like this little sun-loving sporrie (Heliophila africana) - a member of the cabbage family or Brassicaceae -
and the abundant and floriferous Kusmalva (Pelargonium capitatum).
Yellow daisies (Ursinia anthemoides ) were flowering all over the Common,
and some interesting insect visitors put in an appearance as well. This is a Nomad (Sympetrum fonscolombii).
Stuart, pointing out one of the Common's specials - the Redlisted Lampranthus stenus - which doesn't flower at this time of the year, but it is still growing here despite all the trampling that occurs from humans and dogs.
A monkey beetle in the centre of the wild iris (Moraea fugax), several of which were in flower this afternoon. These flowers only last for one afternoon - and we all hoped the monkey beetle was pollinating the flower and not just eating it.  
Stuart demonstrating the tough and stringy the bark of Passerina corymbosa - a member of the Thymelaceae or Tie-me-laces family.
Cuttings from the original plant of Ruschia geminiflora yielded many more plants of this little succulent shrub that grows all over the Common and is flowering now.
The Common has two species of Struthiola - this one is S. ciliata and the other, a bigger shrub nearer the library building, is S. dodecandra. They are also members of the Thymelaceae family.
Albuca juncifolia or 'Sentry in a box".
Artist, Lyn Northam, photographing on of the Commons orchids - the sweet-smelling Satyrium odorum.
The other orchid that occurs here is Disa bracteata.
Rooikanol (Wachendorfia paniculata), a member of the bloodroot family, Haemodoraceae.
Another Common pelargonium - Pelargonium myrrhifolium.
The tiny, lacy flowers of Adenogramma glomerata carpet the sand between the daisies and grass.
Another of the Common's "specials" is the rare and endangered Cape Flats Silkypuff (Diastella proteoides). For more about this plant, click here.
And on most afternoons, the small flowers of Trachyandra revoluta open.
In the various wild storms that we have had this winter, seven of the Common's enormous pines blew down - and the evidence is still around. The City of Cape Town seems to be unable to muster the wherewithal to remove them.
Not flowering, but the presence of several seedlings of another of the Common's "specials", Erica subdivaricata, was an exciting find.
Treading carefully on the Common - as you never know what is underfoot.
Stuart with Fiona Watson who has painstakingly photographed and identified the plants that occur on Meadowridge Common - which amount to almost 140 species, not counting the aliens.

And its not only the flowers that are interesting. This is a nest of Community Nest Spiders that occur on the Common. Read more about them, and other spiders, here.
In the rehabilitation area of the Common several plants of Serruria glomerata are thriving. These are all grown from cuttings taken from other plants of this Cape Flats Sand Fynbos protea growing elsewhere on the Cape Peninsula. According to William Purcell's list of plants on the farm Bergvliet, they would have once grown here.
And finally, at the carpark, a bush of the Tortoise Bush (Muraltia spinosa also known as Nylandtia spinosa) with its spectacular fruit. These are edible and rich in Vitamin C - but taste very astringent.