Floral tribute to the vuvuzela

2010-07-10 00:00

The SA National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) has named a new plant species after the World Cup’s iconic trumpet, the vuvuzela.

Moraea vuvuzela, a member of the iris family, comes from the Cape Floral Region, and its name alludes to the flared shape of the yellow flowers of the bulb.

The bulb was named by Sanbi botanist Dr John Manning, with the intention of commemorating South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The species was brought to the attention of Dr Manning by Rawsonville resident and conservationist Anso le Roux, who encountered scattered flowering plants of an unknown moraea in unburnt veld near Rawsonville in August 2006.

It was only after a controlled burn in February 2009 that the species appeared in large numbers.

Manning says the naming of the plant is aimed at paying homage to South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup, and also seeks to create awareness of the issue of endangered plant species in Worcester and the Cape Floral Region.

“We wanted to find a new national icon to highlight the fact that one in four of the Cape Floral Region’s fynbos plants are endangered. This plant is symbolic of a far greater problem.

“Over the past 10 years, more than 300 new species have been discovered in the Cape Floral Region,” explained Manning.

“The barrel is not running dry, but we need to do everything we can to ensure the conservation of these new species, many of which are endangered.”

Moraea vuvuzela is one of those species threatened by extinction, and the decision to name it after the vuvuzela forms part of a conservation initiative spearheaded by Patrons for Biodiversity (Biopat), sponsored by the German Technical Development Co-operation Agency.

The project will see Biopat provide support for an organisation known as Crew (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers), with the aim of saving species under threat of extinction.

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