Darling Wildflower Society Committee Outing

On 14 September 2021 the Darling Wildflower Society committee donned their walking shoes to enjoy a committee outing to the recently proclaimed Niuwepost Conservation Area located on Burgherspost Farm outside of Daring. The group was guided by the very knowledgeable Jacques van der Merwe who once worked and still lives on Burgherspost farm. Jacques, assisted by the Darling Wildflower Society chairman and wildflower story-teller of note Charles Duckitt had the committee enticed for almost two hours!

Thanks to the unique composition of granite renosterveld, renosterveld vlei (wetland) and Atlantis sand fynbos the reserve has a multitude of wildflowers of which many are endemic to the region and occur nowhere else in the world! The pan attracts a variety of birds including flamingos as well as several frog species, while the surrounding areas provide habitat for small mammals, reptiles and rodents.

Open to the public during spring (August/September) the reserve is located off the R315. From the R315 take the Darling Cellars road and continue approx. 5km towards Cloof Wine Estate. The reserve and parking area is on your right – lookout for the signboard.

Guided wildflower walks can be arranged with the Darling Wildflower Society but here is a sneak peak of the wildflowers you may find. Visit the Darling Wildflower Society social media platforms for more things #darlingwildflowers.

Happy Spring 2021

Spring has officially arrived and the Darling hills are painted in vibrant colours. Carpets of white rain daisies and bright orange gousblom with splashes of yellow Arctotheca (Cape Weed) and Ursinia (Parchute daisy) as far as the eye can see.

Darling and the West Coast is located within the Cape Floristic Region and is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Many of the species found in the area occur no where else in the world. The Darling Wildflower Society is committed to promoting the conservation of the endemic and indigenous wildflowers of Darling and surrounds among landowners and remains actively involved with the maintenance of the two municipal wildflower reserves in Darling.

To celebrate spring 2021 here are some of the more recent wildflowers observed along the nature walk in the sandveld and renosterveld vegetation at Groote Post Vineyard.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more things wildflower.

Darling Kids Holiday Program – Youth Day 2021

The Darling Wildflower Society Kids Holiday Program was established as an youth environmental education project of the Darling Wildflower Society in 2018. Children aged nine to thirteen from the Darling Outreach Foundation took part in a number of excursions during 2018 and 2019 including a visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Kids Holiday Program was put on hold during 2020 and after almost a year of dormancy the Darling Wildflower Society and children are equally enthusiastic about the reinstatement of the program. During 2021 children between the ages of nine and thirteen from the Darling Outreach Foundation will take part in a number of environmental education and outdoor based activities as well as visiting the various parks and reserves in the area. Going forward the Darling Wildflower Society will be working closely with CapeNature and others such as the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve in order to creating lasting partnerships which will not only ensure the longevity of the project but also ensure that the project adds real value to the children.

The project is funded by the Darling Wildflower Society and any donations are very welcome. Contributions do not have to monetary and can be food for packed lunches, transport of children and facilitators to venues or materials such as stationary and educational children’s books. For more information how to contribute to the project please contact us at info@darlingwildflowers.co.za

On Youth Day 2021 a group of ten children from the Darling Outreach Foundation visited the West Coast Fossil Park at Langebaanweg. This was the first time any of the children visited the West Coast Fossil Park which is less than an hour from Darling. The children were welcomed by their guide Darryl of the West Coast Fossil Park before taking a guided tour of the fossil dig-site and museum followed by a packed lunch and quick scramble on the jungle-gym before heading back home to Darling.

More photographs on our Facebook Page.

Country Storage Sponsorship

The Darling Wild Flower Society would like to extend a HUGE thank you to Country Storage for sponsoring two secure containers at their facility located at 36 Caledon Street, Darling.

The building at the Darling Sports grounds which was used to store the equipment and materials for the wild flower show was burgled on separate occasions during February 2021.  Among the items that were stolen are hessian bags, shade cloths, baskets and steel pots, tables and stands. The break-ins where reported to the local SAPS and the case is ongoing.

Country Storage was established in 2017 and is the first registered self-storage facility in the area. Country Storage offers neat, clean and secure parking and storage at country prices.  Visit the Country Storage website or Facebook Page by clicking on the links provided below the photograph. 

Swartland Municipality Proposed Protected & Conservation Areas Management Plan

Notice to register for the Public Participation Process for the Development of a Management Plan for the Swartland Municipality Protected and Conservation Areas in Darling, Malmesbury and Yzerfontein.

Members of the public are invited to take part in the consultation process for the development of a management plan for the development and management of protected and public conservation areas by registering as an Interested and/or Affected Party (I&AP).

The identified areas include the Darling Groenkloof and Renosterveld Reserves, Klipkoppie and Driehoekpad Conservation Areas in Malmesbury and 26 public open spaces in Yzerfontein.

I&APs are invited to register and provide any preliminary comments, enquiries or concerns in writing no later than 22 January 2020 at Swartland Municipality. Contact details are:
Post – Private Bag X52, Malmesbury, 7299, Fax – 022 487 9440
E-mail – swartlandmun@swartland.org.za

Provide the project name, your name, address and contact details as well as preferred method of communication. Also indicate an personal, business, financial or other interest in the project.

Should you have any questions contact Swartland Municipality at 022 487 9400

Invasive Alien Plants

What are Invasive Alien Plant Species?
Simply put…an alien species is a non-native plant or animal that is introduced to a region outside its natural area of distribution and threatens the indigenous biological diversity. The management and control of Invasive Alien Species is governed by the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).

NEMBA categorizes alien invasive species in South as follows:
Category 1a & b – Must be removed and destroyed immediately
Category 2 – May be grown with a permit subject to strict conditions
Category 3 – May not be planted

Invasive Alien Plant Species of the region


Acacia saligna

Port Jackson is native to Australia and was introduced to South Africa in the 1880’s to stabilize coastal sands along roads. With no natural enemies, a long-living seed bank and due to a lack of or insufficient management the species spread fast and aggressively throughout South Africa. The trees are resistant to fire and felling – coppicing (splitting) and re-growing rapidly afterwards and fire actually stimulates germination of the seeds giving them an advantage over other plants. Dense thickets of Port Jackson establish and drastically reduces the biodiversity in a area.

Listed under NEMBA as a Category 1A invasive alien species Port Jackson must be removed by the owner of the property on which it occurs.

In 1987, after rigorous testing, the rust fungus Uromycladium tepperianum which is extremely damaging to these trees in Australia was introduced in South Africa. The fungus prevents reduces the plants nutrients which impacts on its growth and seed production. In 2001 the weevil, Melanterius compactus was released and is being manually redistributed through the plant’s range to reduce the amount of seed produced.

Acacia cyclops

Rooikrans is an Acacia species native to Australia was introduced to the Cape Flats in South Africa around 1857 together with Port Jackson in an attempt to stabilise sand along roads.   The species has spread throughout the Western and Eastern Cape. Some Acacia species including Rooikrans excretes substances into the soil that results in unfavorable soil conditions for indigenous vegetation.

Rooikrants / Coastal Wattle is listed as Category 1B under NEMA and must be removed by the owner of the property on which the species occurs.

Echium plantagineum aka Patterson’s Curse

Echium is responsible for the large fields of bright purple that can be seen from the roads during spring and summer in the winter rainfall region.

Patterson’s Curse which was introduced to South Africa as a ornamental species has become a significant threat not only to the natural diversity but also to cultivated crops and pasture species of the area by out-competing them for space, water and sunlight. A dense population of echium can produce a seed bank of up to 30,000 seeds per square meter.

Classified as a Category 1B invasive alien species and must be removed by the land owner.

Eichhornia crassipes

The water hyacinth is a beautiful water lily is one of the most invasive aquatic weeds in South Africa.  Native to the Amazon the species was introduced to the Western Cape in the early 1900’s.

It is listed under Category 1 and must be removed and eradicated by the landowner on whose property it occurs.

Eucalyptus species

Blue gum or Eucalyptus is native to Australia of which there are several occurring in South Africa. Six species of blue gum / Eucalyptus are listed as Invasive Alien Species in terms of NEMBA namely:
Eucalyptus camaldulensis – river red gum
Eucalyptus cladocalyx – sugar gum
Eucalyptus conferruminata – spider gum
Eucalyptus diversicolor – karri
Eucalyptus grandis – saligna or rose gum
Eucalyptus tereticornis – forest red gum

According to the law, any of these listed gums growing in riparian or Protected Areas or within a listed ecosystem or ecosystem identified for conservation is listed as Category 1b, meaning they must be removed.

Thousands of honeybee colonies are used every year to pollinate important crops across South Africa.  Our deciduous fruit industry, for example, relies on bees to pollinate blossom every spring. After the blossom season is over, honeybees move into gardens, onto farms and along roadsides in search of pollen (protein) and nectar (carbohydrates) from flowering plants.    NEM:BA Invasive Species Regulations which came into effect on 1 October, 2014 acknowledges the importance of gum trees to honeybee foraging. In particular, the regulations make provisions for landowners wishing to demarcate their gum trees as ‘bee-foraging zones’.

Pollination

Briefly pollination can be defined as the transfer of pollen from anther of a male plant to the stigma, ovule or flower of a female plant of the same species. This pollen then fertilizes the plant. Only fertilized plants can make fruit and/or seeds, and without them, the plants cannot reproduce.

Flowering plants are either monoecious or dioecious. Monoecious plants are plants which either carry both male and female flowers on a single plant or have flowers that carry both male and female reproductive parts (bisexual / hermaphrodite) while dioecious plants are plants in which the male and female flowers occur on separate specimens.   Some species of monoecious plants are able to self-pollinate e.g. tomatoes and beans however in most instances pollination is due to zoophily whereby pollen is transferred by animals e.g. insects, rodents and birds.

The distribution of pollen by the wind is known as Anemophily and the flowers of plants pollinated by wind are often less showy. Hydrophily is a rather rare type of pollination during which pollen is transferred between plants by means of water. It occurs mainly in aquatic plants. Zoophily is possibly the most well known type of pollination which takes place by means of animals.   Many flowering plants are pollinated by birds (ornithophily) as well as bees and butterflies (entomophily) however there are many other animal species responsible for pollination.  Bats, mice, lizards, mongooses, and baboons are only a few zoophilic pollinators.

There are numerous reasons why pollination is important for all life on earth. Approx. 78% of flowering and fruit bearing plant species depend on pollination to reproduce and develop fruits and seeds. Pollination ensure a healthy ecosystem that comprises of a variety of plant species which in turn serve as food and shelter for numerous animal species.

Pollination is also essential for the production of many food crops and without it we will not have many of our favourite fruit and veggies including avocados, berries, coconuts, bananas, melons, nuts, beans, watermelon, onions, tomatoes, pumpkin as well as tea plants, coffee, chocolate and tequila!!

Pollination can be either diurnal (during the day), crepuscular (dusk or dawn) or nocturnal (between dusk and dawn).  Many of the flowers pollinated between dusk and dawn have white petals and/or are sweet smelling in order to entice and guide the pollinators towards them.   Nocturnal pollinators include porcupines, beetles, moths and of course bats. Many of these night time critters are more active at dawn or dusk rather than in the dead of the night.  Bats however, are mainly active at night and play a critical role in plant diversity. Pollination done by bats is called chiropterophily. Many fruits are dependent on bats for pollination, such as mangoes, bananas, and guavas and they play an important role in controlling insects.  

Rodents also play an important role in the pollination of a number of fynbos species especially the protea family.  Striped mouse, Cape spiny mouse and Vleirat play an important role in the pollination of several flowering plants including low growing leucospermum e.g. Leucospermum hypophyllacarpodendron and various proteas e.g. the sugarbush.  Pollen is transferred from plant to plant when it sticks to their fur and whiskers when the feed on the sweet nectar.