29 March 2017

Do we owe our existence to the Protea Atlas Project?

Almost twenty years ago, Esme Morris noticed a healthy Cape Flats Silkypuff (Diastella proteoides) shrub growing on the edge of Meadowridge Common. Recognizing it as a rare and threatened species*, she did a bit of research on the plant and alerted Tony Rebelo who was co-ordinating the impressive Protea Atlas Project that ran from 1991-2006 under the auspices of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
This is the entry that appeared on the Protea Atlas website:
"Mrs Esme Morris discovered some plants of Diastella proteoides while on a walk in the Meadowridge Common. Not only did she correctly identify the plant, but she also dug out an article from the Constantiaberg Bulletin of October 1988, written by Grahame Wilson of the Constantia Captrust. It appears that in 1988 some plants of the Flats Silkypuff were protected by a few strands of barbed wire on the common off Faraday Drive and Schoolside. Today only three plants survive on the common, one of which has had a load of tar dumped on it.
"It is not easy to preserve our flora, especially when the plants are sprawling mats with flowers no bigger than a fingernail. It is only through getting the local people interested that we can conserve the indigenous flora on our commons. Perhaps we need a 'Friends of the Meadowridge Common!'" 

Luyanda Mjuleni and Esmé Morris on the Common, January 2017
"Flowers no bigger than a fingernail". The Cape Flats Silkypuff  (Diastella proteoides) on Meadowridge Common.
* Diastella proteoides is redlisted as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED in the 2017 Redlist of South African Plants. Click here to go the entry in the Redlist.