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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.

The Last Poker

Posted by Chris Whitehouse on 14 Feb 2012 at 11:01 AM

And so the trip ends. Today it was just a question of returning from Buffelskloof to the airport in time to catch my evening flight home.  There was no great rush to the day but one never likes to leave catching a flight to the last minute.  John and Sandie gave me a locality along the main road back to Johannesburg that they had been told about for the unusual Kniphofia typhoides. A poker with a tall thin spike of short black flowers that make it look like a bulrush (Typha), hence the name.  Finding the locality was easy, finding the plants was not - only Typha capensis appeared to be present.  However, driving on a bit more I found something that looked very hopeful from the road.

Closer inspection unfortunately revealed that the tall thin blackish spikes were actually old flower spikes.  Still they might have been old flower spikes of K. typhoides.  That was until I spotted a few flowers remaining on two old spikes.  The flowers were clearly not K. typhoides but appeared to belong to K. ensifolia subsp. ensifolia and thus the last poker I saw on my trip was the same as the first poker I had seen back in Colesberg. Either I had misinterpreted the locality, or the old flower spikes that had previously been spotted from the road had been misinterpreted as K. typhoides.

Plant of the day: On top of the Steenkampsberg there was this beautiful patch of Crocosmia paniculata. I had seen it the other day when we had been looking for K. rigidifolia but drove back to Johannesburg via the same route as the weather was better for photography.

Toilet of the day: I am not sure I have come across many views from the men's urinals like this one, where you can see zebra, ostrich, eland, buffalo and rhino, but at the Alzu Service Station on the N4 you can stand and do just that. (In case you were wondering, I took the photograph from outside the service station!)



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