In the gorge

2017-01-10 06:01
‘Streptocarpus grandis’ (foot in photo to give sense of size). Photo: supplied

‘Streptocarpus grandis’ (foot in photo to give sense of size). Photo: supplied

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THIS month we feature one of the most iconic plant species of Kloof Gorge, the Streptocarpus, which are currently in full flower in the gorge.
Streptocarpus is a large genus in the family Gesneriaceae, which also includes African Violets, and is native to southern Africa with over 150 species being recognised. The subgenus Streptocarpus is comprised of plants with typically strap-like leaves, which grow either from an irregular rosette with several leaves emerging directly from the ground, or as a single leaf, the only leaf the plant will ever produce. The later is what we find in Kloof Gorge and there are five species (ref. David Styles):

Streptocarpus molweniensis, which consists of two subspecies. The typical subspecies molweniensis is endemic to the Kloof area and can be found along the Longshadow and Forest trails. Streptocarpus molweniensis was first described in 1996 by the well-known botanist Olive Hilliard, then based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus.

Streptocarpus haygarthii is found in shady forest interiors including the Windsor Road Gulley and sections of the steep ascent out of the gorge known as The Wall.

Streptocarpus grandis is very similar in appearance to S. molweniensis and is found in damp forests. This species has exceptionally large leaves of up to 700mm long and 600m wide.

Streptocarpus polyanthus subsp. polyanthus is usually found on exposed cliff edges and rock outcrops, not in deep shade).

• Streptocarpus prolixus (also mainly cliff edges, on rocks, and in dry forest, but not usually in deep shade).

Security: Walking in the reserve is safe – normal precautions apply when walking in isolated areas. - Supplied.

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