13th April 2019
Having gained permission from the owner of Bosplaas in Wilderness Heights to visit, HAT Tony and Evie quickly set off uphill along the track to the mast. Our aim was to find out what the mountain Fynbos was getting up to after the Oct 2018 burns. The burns in this mountain area were very hot and fierce. Plenty of fuel load around and several of the adjoining farms along the Seven Passes Road were threatened with small outbreaks of fire at the time. Along the track and in between the rocky outcrops, a few unscathed fynbos plants remain. On higher levels (500m and higher) it seems all the vegetation was burnt.
It is pretty and green up there and among the numerous new green sprouting plants there is some good colour returning. The current brightest show is Erica cerinthoides – amazing evidence of plants “rising from the ashes”. We were too late for what must have been a spectacular display. There are literally thousands of Bobartia aphylla plants on the slopes, but excepting for an odd dot of yellow, all in seed!
We crossed a little stream heavily lined with fern growth. From there, it was upwards and into the Leucadendron thickets. The going was tough, as we ducked in between burnt, broad Leucadendron trunks. I suspect many of them were Leucadendron conicum (Near Threatened), as well as far too many Hakea sericea skeletons - not good for the Witfontein Nature Reserve. Luckily, Protea cynaroides is resprouting in good numbers.
With heavy clouds overhead, and not wanting to argue with yet another burnt trunk, we decided we had not chosen the best route, or the best weather. Geloofskop will have to be attempted on another occasion. Thus, we backtracked to the mast in a general circle and landed up in a rockier area, which is always good for Fynbos variety.
On the downhill track we took better note of the view to the east towards Woodville forest. Interesting to note that a large circle of partially burnt, tall Gum trees were set in the middle of a large circumference of indigenous forest (see photo). The indigenous forest is unscathed by fires, except for some trees along the perimeter. This is an amazing example of the power of our indigenous forests to resist burning.
Some of the plants seen; Phylica purpurea, Podalyria buxifolia and burchellii, Lanaria lanata, Corymbium glabrum, Tritoniopsis caffra, Pseudoselago bella, some unknown yellow pea flowers, Watsonia sp. in thick green foliage; and a very pretty Penaea cneorum coming into flower.