Outramps Crew Group

Outramps Crew Group – Southern Cape

An updated version of the Outramps CREW Group Compatibility form online and prepared for the Outramps by Faan du Preez. It is a lighthearted look at the idiosyncrasy of this diverse CREW Group and doesn’t take into account the serious nature of the work we do.


It had rained heavily earlier in the week and the coastal plain south of the Outeniqua Mountains was sodden. But Friday dawned crisp and clear. Armed with permission, we drove to the Ruigtevlei plantations and Spioenkop to hunt for Dioscorea burchellii (Burchells Elephants Foot) – Vulnerable. As we turned in just past Serenity, the gravel road deteriorated sharply. Large puddles, deep ruts and a general feeling of “slip sliding away” (with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel) made for an interesting and tense descent towards the start of the path to the fire tower. Several times we made noisy contact with the middle-mannetjie and it was a relief to be able to park off the road next to a timber lorry, which was stuck in the mud. I consoled myself with the thought, “the sun is shining and there’s a light breeze blowing, which should mean that the road will be drier on the return journey”.

Athanasia linifolia
Athanasia linifolia
The first crowd-stopper was Athanasia linifolia in full bloom. It was stunning and we took the opportunity to collect seeds for the Millenium Seed Bank, all the time keeping our eyes open for the Dioscorea. Once again there were plenty of creepers, but none fitted the bill. As we reached the highest point, we got a very warm welcome from the guy manning the tower and were treated to spectacular 180deg views across the coastal plain and to the mountains. Leucospermum cuneiforme (Warty Pincushion) was in full flower and once we had identified the seeds, we started another MSB collection.

Leucospermum Cuneiforme
Leucospermum Cuneiforme
The next collection we made was Lobelia tomentosa. The new seeds of the Lobelia start out white and transparent, turn bright orange, then glossy brown and finally turn black, when they are ready for harvesting. Previously, we have never paid any attention to seeds, so we are in for a very exciting new learning experience. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no sign of our target plant. I think our next move is to ask Johan Baard to show us the Dioscorea burchellii that he found near Plett. Once we’ve seen both the habitat and the plant, it should be easier to find again. The return journey up the road was a piece of old tacky in comparison to our rather dicey descent.

Many thanks to Mr Heine Muller for allowing us to access the plantation area for the purposes of our CREW work.

I promised you a report on a 3 day expedition to the Garcia Pass area, which took place last weekend. Here is Nicky’s story.

TWO DAYS TOO EARLY – (Nicky van Berkel)

(A trip westward to see what we could find in Garcia’s Pass and surrounds)
All week we kept a close eye on various weather forecasts. The weather didn’t look all that promising, but it looked like we would have some time to hunt plants, so we stuck to our plans and on Friday, Gail, Russell and I travelled westwards towards Garcia’s Pass.

Leucospermum erubescens (Rare)
Leucospermum Erubescens (Rare)
As we approached Riversdale we decided to head straight for the Pass to see what we could find before the bad weather arrived. We drove over the Pass and turned east along the dirt road, stopping whenever we saw something interesting to fossick on the road verge. It drizzled on and off. Before heading back to Riversdale we decided to see what was further north along the R323. We were surprised to find a large building with signs advertising tempting fare. Hoping for a cup of tea, we made our way through the gates…No tea (or coffee) was available, only an array of olive products and other farm stall fare. Russell treated us to a packet of Nik Naks and a toffee, which set us off reminiscing about how we spent our pocket money in our childhood. We made a few more stops on the Pass on the way back to Riversdale. Getting out of the car at the last stop was difficult as the wind was howling and even though we only walked a few metres, we were soaked by icy rain by the time we got back to the car. We headed back to our very comfortable self-catering accommodation in Riversdale, very grateful for a hot shower and tea. We spent the evening with our heads in books trying to identify the plants we had seen.

Leucospermum mundii (Rare)
Leucospermum mundii (Rare)
Saturday was spent in much the same way, the weather continued to threaten so we explored the road verges north of the Pass, ending the day with toasted sandwiches at the Nibbling Squirrel.

As clear skies greeted us on Sunday morning, the day of our departure, we decided to do a short walk along Kristalkloof before heading home… Finally, as the clouds lifted, we had the chance to see the beauty of these fynbos-covered mountains, painted in shades of yellow and pink. The fynbos was so beautiful! Gail and Russell had some difficulty dragging me back to the car…I could have stayed there for a long, long time!

Even though the weather was not in our favour, Russell managed to collect about 35 specimens for the herbarium and I took nearly 2000 photos, some of which will appear on i-spot sometime in the future, so LOTS of work ahead of us.
The weather cleared on Sunday but we had to head back east. It looks like it will be clear for the rest of this week…our trip was just two days too early (or the good weather arrived two days too late)! I hope we manage a return trip soon!
Some of the red-listed plants we saw (identifications yet to be confirmed):

Erica grata (Rare); Acmadenia latifolia (VU); Berzelia ecklonii (Rare); Serruria fasciflora (NT); Berzelia burchellii (Vulnerable).

Nicky van Berkel (Outramps)

Last week on Wednesday, I attended the Branch Convention of the Botanical Society of South Africa at the request of Zaitoon Rabaney (CEO of Bot. Soc of SA). It was held at Ebb and Flow in Wilderness prior to the AGM in the afternoon. It was very interesting hearing what all the other branches were doing and hearing members of Council talking about ways forward for the Society. I gave a presentation on our CREW work in the Southern Cape and it was very well received. The AGM in the afternoon went smoothly and the mood was positive. I was very surprised to receive an award on behalf of the Outramps CREW Group. We are very grateful for this mark of appreciation. So thank you Zaitoon and Bot.soc.

We were planning to do a trip to Sleeping Beauty this week. However, permission from Cape Nature wasn’t forthcoming. They are busy upgrading the trail and the Huts. We will have to leave that for another day. Our next big Overnighter will be to Potberg, where we will be joined by Overberg CREW. We are hoping to do a species list and continue with our iSpot postings for the De Hoop area. We were also hoping to visit Haarwegskloof, but that may be one step too far on this particular trip.
On Friday, we plan to visit an area that was burnt in the Misgund area. We noticed it when we went hunting for Helichrysum outeniquense (Presumed Extinct), which we found on a farm a little further east. It is sensible to visit this Langkloof site before the weather becomes too excruciatingly hot.

All id’s subject to confirmation by Doc AL and Jan Vlok, Dr Ted Oliver and iSpot
For a complete list of projects on iSpot – www.ispotnature.org/projects/crew-species

Abbreviations used
MCSA – Mountain Club of South Africa
MSB – Millenium Seed Bank
HAT – High Altitude Team
LOT – Lowland Team
SIM – Somewhere in the Middle Team
WAGS – Wednesday Adventure Group
VB – Vlok Boekie “Plants of the Klein Karoo” and our Plant Bible
ITRTOL – Another thread “In The Rich Tapestry Of Life”
ITFOT – In the fullness of time
WOESS – Fair Weather Hiker
FMC and JW – too vulgar to translate, but the equivalent is “Strike me Dead” An expression of surprise and delight on finding a new “Rare”
Kambro – same as above
Fossick – A meter per minute, scratching around looking for rares
SIDB – Skrop in die Bos – Another name for a field trip, this one coined by Prix
BAFFING – Running round like a blue-arsed fly
SYT – Sweet Young Thing – Anyone under the age of 40
TOMB – Get a move on
Mayhem – Needless or willful damage or violence
SESKRYNG – “Sit en staan kry niks gedaan” ,with thanks to Brian
SOS – Skelms on Scramblers
FW – Idiot
BOB – Another name for the Buchu Bus when she’s misbehaving.
CRAFT – A symptom of Old Age