April hikes to St James Mule Track, Gifkommetjie, Blackhill and Noordhoek Fire Lookout
by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa
Hiking among wildflowers
in the mountains
around Cape Town
We begin on the Mule Track above St James and Kalk Bay. Crassula saxifraga is a delicate little one sheltering in some shade. Cassine peragua barbara our coastal subspecies with berries. Roella ciliata in and out
|On the Mule Track above St James in April|
Looking from Trappieskop to Simon's Town across the sea, with our house in the valley behind that green ridge.
|From St James to Simon's Town|
Gifkommetjie at Cape Point. First stop at Witsenia maura. Grows with wet feet. Strange plant is a woody iris. Common name bokmakieriestert as it shares its unusual colours with the bird's tail. The yellow is deep pile velvet; the dark below the green band is shiny and iridescent in the sun. 4 by 2 yellow points Gnidia imbricata (flowers at the tips). One long petal says Selago luxurians. Typical daisy? But this one has NO ray florets. Senecio triqueter.
|Witsenia near Gifkommetjie in April|
My group walked on the ridge, the faster ones looped around and returned via the beach.
|Gifkommetjie ridge down to the beach|
Furry white stars with red tipped green hearts for Phylica ericoides. A nother pink erica. Erica glabella has red bracts. The soft Muraltia satureioides (more common M. heisteria has teeth!) Delicate white flower on a wire is Prismatocarpus sessilis.
|Pink and white on Gifkommetjie in April|
On that ridge, each rock seemed to have a different lichen community. I can only name the distinctive last one - hair lichen with flat blades and cups - Teloschistes.
|Lichen on Gifkommetjie rocks|
Blackhill (AKA as Jonkersdam - which doesn't exist). All 4 April hikes are within Table Mountain National Park. Easy walking when on the jeep tracks, which are either remnants of former farms, or used for firefighting access.
|Blackhill jeep track looking towards Chapman's Peak|
Erica mammosa is usually red or blonde, but this one has pink tips. Osteospermum moniliferum species name means wearing a necklace, as seen here (a daisy with berries - who expects that?) Pink stars for Stoebe fusca (which has leaves flattened against the stem). Good news! Biocontrol on invasive Australian wattles. Port Jackson gall rust.
|Blackhill flowers in April|
To the Noordhoek Fire Lookout in Silvermine. Neatly folded bark spider. The world drops away over that edge down to a hidden waterfall, which we could hear. Shiny Granny Smith apple green, typical protea flower colour, not. Protea coronata. An exuberant Oxalis polyphylla.
|April flowers at Noordhoek Fire Lookout|
Since I reported that invasive pine in December 2020. I was delighted to see it felled! View across to Kommetjie, with Chapman's Peak straight ahead.
|Felled pine at Noordhoek Fire Lookout|
Our target today Erica physodes. Flowers are sticky to deter nectar thieves from boring a hole thru the flower tube and skipping pollination duty. Backlit to show the fur Erica cerinthoides is usually blooming then I forget to blog it. Again 8 yellow points with leafy tips Struthiola ciliata. 4 broad yellow points Gnidia tomentosa (flowers at tips).
|Erica physodes at Noordhoek in April|
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