Rare find on Lion’s Head

2015-09-08 06:00
The Cape Granite Flax, thought to be extinct, has recently been spotted on Lion’s Head.

The Cape Granite Flax, thought to be extinct, has recently been spotted on Lion’s Head.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A group of conservation volunteers has discovered a living plant so rare it was thought to be extinct.

The plant, last documented in the 1940s, was recently uncovered on Lion’s Head.

The Granite Cape Flax (Polycarena silenoides) was recently found by the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew) team.

With 39 species of Cape wildflowers classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and 22 of these extinct, finds like these are very special.

This population of Granite Cape Flax will now need to be more fully assessed and monitored, so that it’s endangered status can be revised, and more can be learnt about its life form and responses to fire and other threats, says Crew’s Gigi Laidler, who found the plant.

“I felt great excitement, mixed with trepidation at first that I might be mistaken. But I was elated when the expert confirmed that one more of our more elusive targets has been found and that we can now learn more about this species,” she says.

Over 2500 sites are sampled by the Crew team, with 850 species monitored that they are concerned about. They have discovered 19 new species and rediscovered another 23.

“If we don’t know where our threatened plants are found, we are not able to afford them any protection. So recording exact localities and population information about our threatened plants is very important – especially if we visit the same area repeatedly over time and these records can give information of trends – and this could provide background data for tracking impacts of climate change,” she says.

The information gathered by Crew is important for keeping the list of South Africa’s endangered plants up to date and for informing local authorities and conservation agencies about areas that should not be developed and that require special conservation measures, Laidler explains.

“The biggest threat to plants is loss of habitat. Some plants are very particular about their environmental requirements to thrive and be happy. Our demand on land for housing, agriculture, industry and recreation results in less and less natural habitats remaining. The other massive threat comes from invasive alien species that outcompete and overrun our natural habitats,” she says.

A number of volunteers give their time to Crew, to assist in identifying and monitoring endangered plant species.

Anyone who has a passion for plants, even if they are not that knowledgeable about them initially, can contact the Crew office to find where the closest Crew group of volunteers is that they can join. Visit www.sanbi.org for more information.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.


How to get rid of fleas

Before you call in the pricey exterminators, try this DIY approach that promises to get your flea problem under control.



12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.