Rare Bulbs Found at Cloof

Aliens Give Way to Endangered Indigenous Species

Over the past few weeks many of the top botanists of the Fynbos region have set their sights on Cloof’s Burgherspost Nature Reserve. This was not only because of the spectacular show of daisies and rare bulbs that we usually have, but also the new populations of critically endangered species recently discovered in the reserve. A species is classified as critically endangered when strong evidence points towards the species declining to such a degree that the likelihood of it going extinct in the wild is very high.

The bulbs pictured below owe their re-discovery and subsequent proliferation entirely to our alien-clearing programme. If the Port Jacksons had remained, it’s likely that these species would have been lost to the Cape Floral Kingdom forever.
Babiana leipoldtii ‘Leipoldt se bobbejaantjie’ is known in only seven locations around Darling and nowhere else in the world. All seven sites have highly fragmented, tiny populations are under threat from encroachment by alien trees (Port Jacksons) and grasses (Cynodon dactylon ‘kweek‘). These little specialist bulbs grow in seasonally wet marshlands in low densities and flower for a brief period from early to mid-August. Last year only three individuals were counted on the reserve, but the early warm weather and intensive alien clearing program saw nearly 150 bulbs flowering in a tiny 2 ha area.
Babiana pygmaea ‘geelbobbejaantjie’ is even more rare than B. leipoldtii, previously known in only two locations, and on the brink of extinction. The locations are kept secret from the public, fearing illegal collecting of the very few remaining individuals by specialist collectors. Three individual plants where discovered in an area recently cleared of Port Jacksons and upon further investigation another site with at least 50 adult plants was discovered only a few metres away.
To come and see these amazing flowers for yourself (depending upon when you visit, there may be others), book a wildflower game drive at Cloof or e-mail your details and dates to nature@cloof.co.za. The drive lasts for about 2 hours and costs R150 per person (minimum two people and no drives on Sundays).