CREW cares for ‘lost’, vulnerable plants

2015-04-30 13:59
PHOTO: julie braby

The white Nerine – classified as ‘vulnerable’.

PHOTO: julie braby The white Nerine – classified as ‘vulnerable’.

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FIELD detectives, in the true sense, members of Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (Crew) survey and collect data on threatened plant species which is then fed into the National Red Listing to assess the number of endangered plants in South Africa.

South Africa is the first mega-diverse country to publish a comprehensive Red List for over 20 000 plants, 60% of which cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. Due to various negative impacts 2 553 of these plant species are currently threatened with extinction.

Funded b y the Department of Environmental Affairs Crew works with volunteers – in Umvoti it has been operating since 2008 when Sue Swan was involved – now Lynda Drogemoller (Greytown) and Felix Middleton (Hermannsburg) are active Umvoti Crew members. The group has a list of threatened plants known to occur, and previously collected in Umvoti.

During the field season - October­ to March - a programme is drawn up to list the plants for which to search.

One of these, Nerine pancratioides­ (pictured right), is classified as “vulnerable”. It is found in moist ground and at a ravine on a hill near Greytown.

This plant has been threatened by ongoing habitat loss to afforestation, urban expansion, overgrazing, and invasive alien plants. It flowers from March to April.

Anyone coming across this plant, or any others, should under no circumstances pick, remove or damage it – just take a photograph and if possible GPS the location and alert Crew’s Survana Parbhoo on 082 354 5649.

There are 26 Crew groups operating in the country. The volunteers work with landowners, municipalities and conservation authorities to promote conservation of sites.

Specimens collected by volunteers assist botanists to describe and classify plants.

Crew started in 2003 and since then volunteers have discovered several plant species new to science, as well as many rediscoveries of plants not seen for decades.

Anyone interested in nature, the environment, conservation and who would like to be involved in Umvoti Crew’s should contact Parbhoo at the number shown above or email s.parbhoo

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