Nerine sarniensis

A large Botanical group visited Vogelgat yesterday on a quest to see the flowering Nerine sarniensis (Guersnsey lily).


Colour variations include red, rarely pink or white flowers with erect stamens.  Found growing on rocky south and north-west facing slopes in the SW Cape.

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Common names: Guernsey lily, red nerine, berglelie

Nerine sarniensis, commonly known as Guernsey lily or Jersey lily,[2] is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaryllidaceae. It is the type species of the Nerine genus. It is widely cultivated in the temperate world and is particularly associated with the island of Guernsey, as reflected in both its Latin and common names (sarniensis means “from Guernsey”),[3] though it does not originate there, nor is it a true lily (it is more closely related to Amaryllis and Sternbergia). It is native to the Northern and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa, There are 4 fynbos species of Nerine.


Derivation of name and historical aspects

This beautiful Nerine has a colourful history. The often-told but unlikely tale of how boxes of bulbs of South Africa’s most famous Nerine, consigned for Holland, were cast away from a sinking ship in 1659 and took root and flourished on the shores of Guernsey in the Channel Islands, has become something of a botanical legend. Whatever the truth is regarding the arrival of Nerine sarniensis on Guernsey, its bulbs have been cultivated there for more than three centuries, and continue to be grown there for their cut flowers.

The cleric and amaryllid expert, Rev. William Herbert, established the genus Nerine in 1820. It is unclear whether he named it for Nerine, the Greek mythological sea nymph and daughter of sea God Nereis and Doris, or for Nereide, the daughter of Nereus, son of Oceanus. The specific epithet sarniensis refers to the Island of Sarnia, the Roman name for Guernsey, where Nerine sarniensis was at one time thought to have occurred naturally.

Submitted by Gilly

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Dot’s Dash 2018

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Originally posted on roncorylus:
Nine Hurriers had the pleasure of walking Dot’s Dash this morning.  It was perfect walking weather apart from the rather stiff breeze, but there were plenty of places where we were in the lee of the…

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Identification please!

On this morning’s BotSoc walk to study the various Lobelia in flower, a pretty caterpillar was photographed by Derek Silberblatt. Can anybody say what it is?

He also submitted a picture of a nest in an Erica bush that he thinks may be that of a Grassbird.

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Cassine peragua, a fragrant Saffron tree

Trees are not frequent in fynbos areas. One has to search along the stream beds or in the kloofs. Our botanical walks for the past two weeks have focused on trees and getting to know them a little better.

We were all enchanted by this Cassine peragua growing below the path at the entrance to the little Boekenhoutbos forest. It is in full flower with a wonderful scent. The bees are loving it.

Its vernacular name, Bastard Saffron tree, comes from the colour of its trunk.  The bark is greyish brown becoming flaky and falls off in thin scales to expose the powdery saffron-yellow pigment in the outer layers of the bark.

Deirdre Richards

Cassine peragua

Cassine peragua

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Klipspringers in Fernkloof

The group of members were sitting at Belle’s bench for tea during this morning’s Botanical Society walk, when a Klipspringer was spotted standing on a rock, on Kanonkop, profiled against the blue sky. I managed to take 3 shots of the buck and when looking at the pictures on my return home it is clearly visible that there were actually 3 present at that location.

Note and photo by Derek Silberblatt

P1080494 - Copy

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Grasses – A talk by Jim Sweet

For many years the HBS has presented talks for our members and friends on the third Friday of every month in the Fernkloof Hall. As a botanical society we like to take these opportunities to persuade people that “Plants matter”.  Jim Sweet, our speaker on Friday 16th March, could not have addressed a topic closer to our core belief.    “Grasses: where would we be without them”.

Listening to Jim, we realised to what an extent the whole human race is underpinned by grasses in the form of cereals for our staple foods, and other grasses for a host of uses including construction (bamboo), thatching (Hyparrhenia), biofuel (sugar cane) medicinal (common couch grass), essential oils (lemon grass) and erosion control (vetiver grass). More obviously, grass supports a huge biomass and diversity of domestic stock and wildlife through natural grazing in the prairies, pampas, steppes and savannas of the world.

Grasses may be annuals, which complete their life cycle in a single season, or perennials which can last indefinitely. The former need to be prolific seeders but require only a shallow root system.  The latter also produce seed but rely mainly on regrowth and a well developed root system. Some perennial grasses spread by runners which can be above ground (stolons) or below ground (rhizomes). Kikuyu grass has both, making it a successful turf and grazing grass but difficult to eradicate!

One reason why grasses are so successful is that they are difficult to digest hence, to access this food source, herbivores have specialised digestive systems.  Scientists have recently identified the gene responsible for cell stiffness and have shown that grass can grow quite well without it. Jim concluded by suggesting that it might not be long before we too are eating grass!

Article by Deirdre Richards

bamboo scaffolding

Bamboo scaffolding

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Disa uniflora


A quick foray into Vogelgat Reserve this afternoon to see the Red Disa was everything we wanted.  Never before have I been able to photograph 10 blooms in close proximity to each other.  It really was magnificent!  Adding to the fun of the afternoon, we had a downpour – not typical Western Cape rain, but more like a monsoon with large drops raining down and absolutely drenching us.  Of course this started just as we reached the flowers, so we had to be quick with the camera to avoid any damage!

DSCF1147 Disa uniflora

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