Very little of today was planned, least of all today’s 8 stops and our final destination, Addo, a place I had never heard of before today. As it had been a fairly blank day on the itinerary, we should have been heading to Jeffrey’s Bay, my memory banks for this stop were blank. Now, almost two months later, I struggled to remember where it was that we spent the night. I Googled Somerset East Accommodation and as soon as I spotted the Angler and Antelope Guesthouse, the memories came flooding back., of the lodgings at least, and all good ones, especially of the huge collections of single malt whiskeys that Cliff formed an opinion on.
Nothing to do with the whiskey the night before, but my memories of today’s stops are very limited. I do recall that we took a track that looked a fairly main road and had been given a ‘proper’ road number that suggested a good surface allowing an average speed of 50-70 km per hour. Not sure if the detoriation happened recently but in many places, we struggled to reach 10 km.p.hr. So going through today’s images selection will be as much a voyage of (re-) discovery for me as it is for you.
We had taken the N10 south out of Somerset East and again these major roads are no good for making ad hoc stops, so turned west on a narrow track and took stock of where we were some 7 km farther along (S2769) prompted by another dense stand of Aloe ferox. I thought to have found another, smaller Aloe, in flower with nice yellow flowers. Time for another plant lesson from David. ‘Feel the leaves.’ he suggested. My late Mum used to tell me always to do as I was told, and so I was surprised to discover the soft texture of the succulent leaves. ‘Typical Bulbine.’ Always keen to know more, I asked which one? I’m still waiting for the answer on that one. Hmmmm, a Bulbine that looks like an Aloe…….. Google reveals that Bulbine alooides grows in the area, I switched to image mode and hey presto, I have another name on my list! That was easier than I imagined. If I got it right that is!
I took a look at Bulbine on Wikipedia and learned that the genus has some 160 species! Also at S2769 was a Bulbine that superficially reminded me of a daffodil and among the species list on Wikipedia was an entry for Bulbine narcissifolia.
We had already earmarked a spot almost at the junction with the N10 as our next stop, S2770. The plant that had attracted our attention was this one:
Back along the N10, driving south, we took the first east, signposted to Sheldon Station, but we never got that far, screaching to a halt for a field jam-packed with clumps of Euphorbia (S2771). Was somebody farming these here for commercial purposes? Why?
The next turning off the N10, west again took us to S2773, the farthest stop East of our trip. It was amazing! After fields full of Euphorbia clumps at S2771, here was another but all clumps were covered with yellow flowers. The smell of pollen and nectar filled the air, like standing next to a field of the ‘yellow peril’ (rape seed) in the UK in Spring. Again, it felt like an invisible hand got hold of my throat as a allergy reaction in protest. Millions of bees were buzzing around. I wonder if these plants were here for the honey industry.
An impressive scene with impressive scent to go with it …
… from thousands of impressive plants like this one.
We tore ourselves away, probably just as well, as we were in danger of being overwhelmed by the scent. I see that Google Earth’s image from this area was taken in March – apparently without the flowering Euphorbia – I’m sure the satellite camera would have picked them up.
Another stretch of N10 and another turn west had gotten us on the R335 for a stop at S2774. Not sure if the spots on the Crassula are part of the plant’s natural genetic design or were created by its natural pests as puncture marks.
I’m sure that we had a name for this Haworthia, at S2775 but allas, it’s gone from my memory bank – I should have written it down at the time. If my fellow travellers are reading this, please help me out!
We made very poor progress as the road had been madly torn up, probably by a recent flood – we understand that there had been heavy rains here a few weeks ago – a bit like the UK then! S2776 was amazing as suddenly we seemed to be in a subtropical rainforest as the road wound down quite fast – this turned out to be the Zuurbergpas, near the Addo Elephant National Park. Cliff and I were reminded of the subtropical rain forest near Salta in Argentina, but there are no Bromeliads in Africa – unless they are escapees from horticulture.
There were (probably) at least two species each of Crassula, Bulbine, Aloe and Euphorbia and dozens (?) of Geranium sp. Now armed with the names of some local landmarks, searches for plants found in the area were a bit more focussed, until I discovered there was another Zuurberg above Ceres, hundreds of km. away and an alternative spelling for both: Suurberg. Back to the drawing board. And some intriguing names come up for plants from the area that I don’t recall seeing, such as cycads, there are at least three species mentioned from the area with the Suurberg Cycad (Encephalartos longifolius) as the main candidate – how did we miss them? Or did we? I’ll have to come back to this stop for another close look at the images.
These tree Euphorbia are the overwhelming memory (yes, it’s coming back) from this stretch, even without an ID.