Out orchid hunting on the contour path between Voelklip and Vogelgat in late October, a group of Bot Soc members climbed up to a pool just above the path.
Whilst photographing the dainty ferns and other unusual sedge-like plants on the pool edge, Liz Hutton drew our attention to the unusual looking white flowers of an erica plant growing amongst the low vegetation on the adjacent bank.
After taking a GPS reading we picked a piece to take back for identification.
Imagine our surprise when Lee Burman suggested it might be Erica genistifolia, an erica never previously recorded in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Photos and a description were sent to Ted Oliver, an expert in the family Ericaceae, who confirmed the identification.
The name of this little plant has now been added to the Fernkloof plant list of 1 250 species!
The erica is described as a low, bushy shrublet up to 30cm tall, growing on moist south facing rock ledges. The corolla is 4 to 5mm long, with lobes that are unusual in that they are broadish at the base, gradually becoming thinner until they end in a peculiar dark brown tip.
Only one plant was seen and a follow-up excursion to the gully is planned.
Ref: Ericas of South Africa; Schumann, Kirsten & Oliver
Article Sandy Jenkin Images Sandy Jenkin and Ronnie Hazell