Unique discovery in Greytown

2017-03-01 06:02
The ‘Watsonia palustris’ flower.

The ‘Watsonia palustris’ flower.

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AN exciting first for Greytown is the discovery by ex-Greytonian Vic Schutte of a new species of Watsonia.
In 2008, Schutte, a well-known plant and flower expert, was walking around Lake Merthley when he came across a mass display of pink flowers in a tiny wetland fed by a spring.

On closer inspection they turned out to be Watsonias, which struck Schutte as unusual as none of the known Watsonias flower in February or March and it is also unusual for this plant to grow in wetlands.

A week later the flowers were photographed, the GPS position determined and specimens were taken for identification by the herbarium at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.

The herbarium requested two more specimens over the course of time. In 2015, the Bews Herbarium found an identical specimen sent in by a Mr Gardener in 1929 that had been identified as Watsonia bella and the notes stated “found near Greytown”.
However, it became obvious that the plant found by Schutte was not Watsonia bella as this does not grow in wetlands. So this has been declared a new species and named Watsonia palustris (meaning of the lake).

Hopefully, this rare species that is unique to Greytown will continue to exist in the area, despite the influx of people and animals there, and specifically the wetlands.
During the dry season, green grazing is only available in the wetlands, which results in the destruction of the plants.

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