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I'm Principal Scientist for Botany at the RHS and work on the correct naming of plants and manage the RHS Herbarium. I am part of an expedition to South Africa this January to study Kniphofia and their natural hybrids.

Pokers in the mist

Posted by Chris Whitehouse on 07 Feb 2012 at 10:43 AM

If I thought the cloud was low yesterday, it was nothing compared with today.  Not even the wetlands in front of the cottage were visible.  My plan to do a hike on the way to my next stop were abandoned and I just hoped that as I headed north the weather would improve.  I planned my route to see if I could find K. albomontana on the way.  It was first found near a place called White Mountain, hence its name.  Amazingly, there were some plants just by the roadside, for if they had been any further away I would have completely missed them.

Having arrived at Cathedral Peak earlier than planned, I was not allowed to check-in until 2pm.  So I set off on a short hike to visit the enticingly named Rainbow Gorge.  The clouds had lifted a bit, and although not enough to see the high peaks, above the level of the gorge.  It was not prime poker country but it did lead to some beautiful forest, with lots of waterfalls, ferns and lianas.  The patches of forest in the Drakensberg are only found in those areas that receive enough water and also avoid any fires.  It was interesting to see several well known houseplants, such as Asparagus densiflorus 'Sprengeri', Begonia sutherlandii, and Streptocarpus gardenii, and yet in almost exactly the same habitat, Eucomis bicolor, a species that is perfectly hardy outside in the UK.

Plant of the day: Galtonia candicans - an unmistakeable plant in the garden, with its tall candelabra of pure white flowers, here it was growing amongst the brambles beside a stream well-trodden by cows.

Traffic jam of the day: there are plenty of cows on the roads that are reluctant to move out of the way, but as I entered Cathedral Peak, there was this troop of baboons that had little concern that they might be in the way.


Botany said:

Safely back home, it is now time to assess the expedition and write up the reports. A first assessment

on 19 Feb 2012 at 09:08 AM

Botany said:

This page is to act as a summary of my expedition to find Kniphofia , red hot pokers, with links through

on 24 Feb 2012 at 03:29 PM