Geissorhiza Research Update

Evan Eifler
Mon, 11 Sep 2017 07:25:38 PDT
Hello again everyone,

I just wanted to post an initial update for my fieldwork in South Africa. *To
see photos, please visit the lab note of my crowd funding campaign: <>*

Although I have only been in the country for a few days and most of that
time has been spent organizing and getting settled,* I have already found
two species of Geissorhiza within the city limits of Cape Town*. One, G.
imbricata subsp. imbricata, I found in Rondebosch Common. Rondebosch
Common, located in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, has had a variety of
human uses in the past including military camps and cricket pitches. At
first glance it may appear to be an abandoned weedy field in the middle of
the suburbs, but it is in fact one of the last remaining fragments of Cape
Flats Sand Fynbos, a critically endangered vegetation type found nowhere
else on earth. Despite invasion by some alien species, the commons
maintains a great wealth of plant diversity including G. imbricata subsp.
imbricata. G. imbricata is one of the most variable and least taxonomically
understood species of Geissorhiza and was once considered three separate
species but has since been assigned to two subspecies each in their own
area with a gradient of forms between them. As long as I can find other
examples of the other forms, I should be able to figure out if there is
some hybridization going on here (as seems to be the case). It sounds to me
like this group may be what's known as a "hybrid swarm."

The other species I was able to find thus far is G. juncea, a relatively
common species found in damp sandy habitats around the Cape Peninsula. I
found it on the south-facing slope of Lion's Head, just outside the central
business district of Cape Town which is also home to a great wealth of
geophytic species including the red Chasmanthe in the foreground.

*I'd like to thank those of you who have pledged a donation to my
crowdfunding campaign already and also invite anyone else who is interested
to visit my project page

And, if you'd like to see more photos of my fieldwork, consider following
my Instagram account @evaneifler


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