Flower walks in Nature’s Valley

Kellyn Whitehead
25 November 2014

At the beginning of April this year the Nature’s Valley Trusts research team began a flower survey project. The study areas includes four sites, three within the Natures Valley area and one site just outside the Valley. The first site surveys the flowering plants along the R102 Fynbos above Natures Valley and comprises of the Kalander Kloof and Salt River hiking trails. Site two is the Fynbos Reserve, a small patch of protected Fynbos found in the residential area (site three) of Natures Valley. The final site falls within the Covie, a rural community found just a few kilometres outside of the Valley.

Flower walks 1

A number of unusual plants can be found as well from root parasites to carnivorous plants.


Flower walks 2

These three lovely flowers represent the citrus and mustard families.

Twice monthly we walk site one, once a month site two and three, and when we are in the area we survey site four. The plant surveys include walking the sites and doing a thorough check for any plants that are in flower. We then document these plants in flower by taking pictures of the flowers (both from afar and close up), take measurements of height, width and length of the plant, flowers and leaves and finally writing down a description of what we see when taking a close look at the plant (i.e. flower colour, flower and leaf texture etc.). We are also creating a plant herbarium for the area and as we identify the plants so we make an information sheet for them along with pictures.

datasheet small

A table showing all the families we have discovered in the study area.

Please click here for full size image.



Table of families small

An example of the data sheet used to record flowering months.

Please click here for full size image.



Flower walks 3

Such diversity found within our area.

Once back from the field we then begin to enter all the information that we have collected. We have created a spreadsheet for each of the four sites where we document the plants species and the month(s) in which it was found flowering. A number of methods are used to try and identify the plants. Field guides such as Wild Flowers of South Africa (John Manning), Field guide to Fynbos (John Manning) and Outeniqua, Tsitsikamma & Eastern Little Karoo (Audrey Moriarty) are used. Some of the locals in the Valley are very knowledgeable about the plants flowering in the area and kindly offer a hand in the identification process. Finally iSpot, which is a citizen science website (www.ispot.org.za), is used to both help with confirmations of identities as well as to help identify those plants which we do not know.

Flower walks 4

Beautiful orchids.

Flower walks 5

Some of the many Erica’s found in the Nature’s Valley area.

By developing a data base for the flowering periods for our Fynbos we will be able to see if climate change will have an effect on the timing of flowering which could then also impact the bird and insect life which depend on these plants. To date we have documented and identified over 100 plant species belonging to approximately 28 families. As we continue with our monthly surveys so the list is growing longer, which is exciting as we are learning more about the beautiful Fynbos surrounding our area. Once we have documented the majority of the plants within the Fynbos we hope to put together a field guide for just the Natures Valley area, hopefully to be finished by the end of next year!

Flower walks 6

Many flowers in the area are purple in colour to attract butterflies and other insects.

Flower walks 7

A few of the beautiful iris’ found within the fynbos and forest.

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