IBSA Symposium Part 2

Mary Sue Ittner msittner@mcn.org
Sat, 23 Sep 2006 23:26:17 PDT
I've finally gotten some pictures added to the wiki so will continue my 
narrative about the IBSA Symposium held in South Africa in August. I've 
added links with anchors to direct you to right spot on the wiki page 
unless it is a short page or the species uncertain. The third and fourth 
days were field days. We road in two large buses to areas to explore, 
bringing along our lunches so we could stop in a beautiful spot to eat 
during the day. I love botanizing and this was a much better year to find 
flowers than the last Symposium. Also we were lucky with the weather. The 
first day we went to Tulbagh and walked around a farm. South Africa has a 
very large number of geophytes and because they had so much rain before we 
arrived every day of our trip that we were out looking we saw a lot. Some 
things we saw more than once and others were specific to an area and maybe 
we would just see them one day in a couple of locations or even just in one 
spot. We were quite excited to see some of the rare plants and also to see 
all the variations of each species you often see in the wild. My list of 
different geophytic species seen the first field day was 40. It is 
challenging trying to identify everything you see. There is no way there is 
room in the South African Field Guides to list all of the species in the 
different areas. And most of us wanted to see as much as we could so we 
were on the move looking for plants. Photos don't often show the details 
you need to make a positive identification. The revised Stellenbosch to 
Hermanus (Guide #5) at least mentions some of the species not pictured and 
how to tell them apart. Most of the other field guides are limited just to 
the pictures at hand and what you are looking at may not be in your book. 
There were only a few IBSA members who people turned to for plant 
identification help. As long as you were just content seeing what you could 
see without caring what it was you were fine.

The first thing we saw was a Wachendorfia, I think W. paniculata. It was a 
good year for Wachendorfias. We saw a lot of them in the different areas we 
visited. Some of the treasures we saw the first day were Gladiolus alatus 
(seen repeatedly on our trip), Lachenalias (I think L. orchioides and 
perhaps L. unicolor), Moraea villosa and M. papilionacea and the first of 
many Moraea (Homeria subgroup) we were to see. We found it hard to get 
anyone to help us with the Homeria subgroup of Moraea. I was told since 
some of them are supposed to be harmful to stock and farming is important, 
they are not held in great regard. And some of them are very weedy too 
which is another mark against them, but some of the ones we saw were really 
beautiful too. I'm guessing it was M. ochroleuca we saw this day, a nice 
bright orange with a yellow center.

Another genus I found trouble identifying we saw often on our trip was 
Babiana. It seems that you start out telling them apart by looking at the 
bracts. There is great variability in color and markings in each species. I 
think the ones we saw this first day were Babiana stricta, a species much 
used in hybridizing.

Although a lot of the Oxalis were finished blooming as many bloom in fall 
or early winter this day we saw what looked like Oxalis purpurea and 
growing in some rocks, Oxalis versicolor.
And there was a pretty pink form of Pelargonium triste.

Spiloxene capensis was seen a lot of days. The ones in Tulbagh were white 
with a green center outlined in black. There was still standing water on 
this farm and there we found Spiloxene aquatica, blooming in mass.
Close by there were a number of different Droseras. I wish we could give 
some of them honorary wiki status, but I'm not sure the South African 
species are geophytic like so many of the Australian ones. D. cistiflora is 
such a striking plant. The ones in bloom we saw this day were a beautiful 
violet purple. After crossing the water we came across two species of 
Romulea. One of them appeared to be a large and very pretty form of Romulea 
rosea which comes in all sizes including some not very interesting and small.
More exciting for me was seeing an apricot Romulea that was identified as 
R. setifolia since I had not seen it before and I do love Romuleas

I was fascinated watching the monkey beetles rolling around in some white 
Hesperantha flowers. They were almost as big as the flowers. Since they fly 
you don't realize they are beetles until you look more closely. I took 
quite a lot of pictures trying to capture some in the flowers before they 
moved on.
http://pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/…  (listed 
under sp. since I wasn't sure what species it was)

Later in the day we stopped for what was the highlight for me, a field of 
Babiana villosa and Geissorhiza inflexa. There was just a mass of red 
everywhere. Obviously these two must have the same pollinator as from a 
distance it would be impossible to tell which was which.
There were also some white flowers intermixed, maybe a Trachyandra. 
Trachyandra wasn't included in the Color Encyclopedia making me wonder if 
it is considered a bulb. Does anyone know what kind of root structure it 
has? In the habitat picture of Babiana villosa you can see the white and 
red. In this same area Ornithogalum dubium was in bloom. My picture has it 
next to a Lachenalia unifolia.
Speaking of the same pollinator, my husband saw Sparaxis grandiflora ssp. 
grandiflora. I didn't see it, nor did I see the Ferraria crispa he saw, but 
I saw some things he didn't see. I have been growing this subspecies  of 
Sparaxis grandiflora from Mark Mazer and it is what I call purple or 
violet. These were plum red, keeping to the red theme of Babiana villosa 
and Geissorhiza inflexa and maybe sharing the same pollinator as well.
Looking at the pictures of the subspecies when I added new ones to the 
wiki, it seems to me that the shape of the flowers is a subtle instead of a 
striking difference.

The second day we drove the other direction, south to Villiersdorp where we 
once again visited a farm. Later in the day we drove to a nursery in 
Caledon that sells a lot of native plants. My list of geophytes seen in the 
wild this day was 25. Villiersdorp is in the area covered by the 
Stellenbosch guide  and it specifically listed species found in this area 
and there were quite a few we saw that didn't think fit any of the choices. 
Some of these I'm going to call sp. on the wiki pages and others I may be 
bold enough to make a guess. I invite people to confirm my hunches or give 
me the proper name if I'm wrong about what they were. I think someone needs 
to expand the species found in this region. Early on we saw Geissorhiza 
ornithogaloides. In this area we also saw Gladiolus liliaceus and Gladiolus 
alatus, including a white one that is only found in this region.
We also saw a white and a yellow Bulbinella, I think they may have been B. 
nutans and B. triquetra, but I could be wrong.
There was a lovely pink Onixotis punctata and a gorgeous orchid that I came 
away without a name for. So if any of you were there and got that name 
please let me know. We also saw a number of very pretty low growing 
representatives of Babiana ambigua.
And there were two distinct Wurmbeas we saw.

They had a hard time getting us to leave this spot to walk around the farm. 
On a hill we found Moraea fergusioniae making Bob Werra very happy. I was 
surprised to find some with coiled leaves and some with out.
There were huge Massonia leaves here, some Androcymbium in seed already, 
some nice coiled Gethyllis leaves, Babiana patula, Gladiolus venustus, and 
Tulbaghia capensis.

Two plants that I didn't think quite fit the possibilities were a Ferraria 
(look under sp.)
and a Lapeirousia (look under sp.)

The native plant nursery had bulbs, proteas, ericas, a lot of interesting 

On Friday we went to the Worchester Desert Botanical Garden again. We went 
there on the last Symposium and I made a wiki page then. I may add to it 
later or some of the others of you can add to it if you like.
Again we had a tour of the collections closed to the public: bulb and 
succulents and a walk through part of the garden. There were a lot of nice 
Amaryllid leaves in the garden. They have given up on their Oxalis 
collection since the blooming plants seeded into so many of the pots that 
they are now a mess with multiple species in each pot.

Late morning we said our goodbyes. Some people were spending a few more 
days on their own before going home and some of the South African IBSA 
members had already returned to their homes. Others would ultimately go to 
the Clivia meeting after a few days of traveling. Thirty seven of us had 
signed on to go to Middelpos to spend several more days looking for plants 
and three nights together. Little did we know what a great treat we had 
ahead of us. We knew we were on the hunt for the 5 big red Romuleas (some 
of which are not red, but still get included since they have such big 
flowers) and for Daubenya aurea.

Although I found the talks interesting, the best part of the Symposium for 
me was getting to visit with people who share my passion for bulbs and 
looking for plants in the wild. I was so grateful to those people who 
organized the Symposium, all those people who came and shared the 
experience, and to Mother Nature for providing us with the beautiful 
flowers and the dry days for exploring.

Mary Sue

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