As you’ll have noticed, we often use one day to travel from A to B, with stops along the way and then one or two more days to take a look in the area. And so a day around Rosh Pinah had been planned. But, as we woke up we realised that there’s not much scope for plant stops around Rosh Pinah. It is a mining town that had grown at quite a pace in recent years. In the main, the people staying in the accommodation where we were staying was more aimed at long-term stays for individuals or families, self catering with a bar and restaurant for those who preferred to eat out, aimed at contractors working in the middle of nowhere in the mining industry and related businesses.
We had come in from the north and would leave tomorrow to the south, so the natural thing to do would be to explore to the east and / or the west – except that to the west is the Sperrgebiet, translated into English – the barred / blocked area. And the inadequate maps that we had with us did not suggest anything specifically to aim for.
First of all we wanted to see Pachypodium namaquanum that is known to grow in the area and again on the other side of the Oranje Rivier in South Africa. It is said to grow on the highest mountains, facing to the north. Around Rosh Pinah, the mountains were mainly to the west and it was impossible to get clear views to their northern sides with binoculars to try to spot a few of them. Any tracks in that direction seemed to lead to gates to mines. No go.
Lithops karasmontana subs. eberlanzii, C149 to be precise, used to be known under the name Lithops erniana var. witputzensis and has its Type Locality in the area ‘110 km SSE of Aus’. Yesterday we had passed by a track off to the east with signage for the Witputs Farm aka Witputz – we found a whole range of alternative spellings of names of Dutch and in Namibia, German origin. Obviously the language is still evolving and is evidence of as much diversity as is found for different reasons in the flora. And so a plan evolved to see where that track would take us in that direction. The time/date stamps of the images taken tell part of the story. We hit the turning at 9:18 and headed east until some 20 minutes later we spotted some nice stands of Hoodia along the side of the road – time for a leg stretch and exercising the shutter fingers.
S2650 was a good stop – I took 150 images during the three hours that we hiked in the hills to the south of the track. We did find a small population of Lithops and due to the assumed proximity to C149, Lithops karasmontana subs. eberlanzii is the name I’ll be using until somebody who knows better tells me otherwise and helps me to understand why.
Many of the succulent plants we were seeing here were plants that we had seen before so I’ll avoid duplicates here, or list the 15 taxa I recorded here, many of them just ‘sp.’
Another plant that we saw here and on many other locations is one given the quaint common name of ‘dog’s balls’, which we quickly translated to ‘dog’s bollocks’, thus neatly side-stepping the issue of which of the five species in the genus Larryleachia (formerly Trichocaulon and before that in Hoodia and originally the genus Stapelia) might be appropriate for the plant in front of our camera lenses. We tended to use the Latin name Larryleachia cactiformis that is so appropriate to any of these plants that superficially resemble globular or semi-columnar cacti. From a bit of reading on the internet and in Doreen Court’s The Succulent Flora of Southern Africa it seems that the five species differ mainly in flower detail, and as we saw none in flower ….. Some were larger than others, but that could just be a matter of age or environmental factors and some formed clumps while others were solitary, but it may well be that these are not reliable diagnostic features. Here is one photographed at S2650, showing the seedhorns that confirm that we missed its flowering.
As mentioned earlier, this stop was prompted by Hoodia’s seen at the side of the track. I’d better explain that again, we use this name out of ignorance for any smallish ceroid-like Stapeliad – again no flowers seen here. Here is what prompted the stop:
There are no images worth publishing from S2651, just blurred images of a family of deer (klip bokken?) crossing the road at speed) so I’ll finish today with another plant from S2650, again seen before and again in the future over quite a range:
The lovely velvety texture of the leaves ensured that it would get photographed again on many occasions.
Tomorrow we cross back into South Africa – lots more paper filling to look forward to?
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