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A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Post 1


Today I was visited by Ernst van Jaarsveld! You probably don't know who he is - but you should! So let me inform you: Ernst is one of South Africa's most renowned botanists and horticulturalists and the author of several books. He's discovered, described and named several plant species, and also has plant species named after him. He is especially into succulents - of which South Africa has an incredible variety. And that's what brought him to me! A few days ago I was called by Joe Grosel, the chairman of our local bird club (but Joe is also into nature in general, so knows lots of things - and lots of people). Joe knows that I'm into plants and know a thing or two. So Joe was contacted by folks who know Ernst and then Joe contacted me, about a plant Ernst was looking for - a Kleinia venteri, an extremely small, inconspicuous and unassuming plant. But anyways, Joe was hoping I know about these plants - and fortunately I did! Fanie Venter discovered this species, Ernst described and published it, naming it after Fanie. The original colony of these plants, which Ernst knew about, was destroyed by housing developments, so when he recently went back to try and find them, they were gone. But luckily I know of other, still-existing colonies. So I told Joe, I was phoned by another guy Anton, and finally by Ernst, and I said I could help him.

So. He arrived here this afternoon with Sean Gildenhuys, another succulent expert. I immediately showed them the plants I have growing here in my own collection - I grew them from cuttings taken from wild plants. Then we headed to the first location - walking distance from my house. The veld looked completely unpromising - people walk there and the municipality often comes in with big vehicles to mow the grass, of course squashing tiny plants beneath their wheels. But lo and behold, I found some plants! Once we had the first ones we soon found more. And they were flowering and also bearing fruit! Actually the 'fruit' are tiny dry capsules with a tuft of white fluff, but still, there they were! Ernst and Sean took lots of photos and also of the other plants which miraculously survive in that veld.

With this success we headed for the second locality. This is a patch of veld in the middle of my suburb Ster Park. Again when we arrived things looked extremely unpromising - the veld had been scraped by some kind of scraping vehicle, almost bulldozed! I was hoping something survived ... we only saw a few species in the scraped bits, including a very pretty little Othonna. But deeper in we found fairly healthy veld ... Ernst said that in the patches he had seen them in long ago, they were in patches underneath Acacia caffra (common hook thorn) trees. And there were a few hook thorns. And - Ernst found them there! We again soon found quite a few, and also flowering.

In both localities, Ernst took a few plants for his collection. From my own experience they are very easy to grow from cuttings, so I'm sure they'll flourish.

With these successes, we headed to the hills where they wanted me to show them the Euphorbia clivicolas, another extremely rare species only occurring around Polokwane. We were bashing through some dense bush and again found lots of other interesting things - Ernst took some cuttings of a huge succulent cactus-like wild grape - and then, again, we found our clivicolas! Only a few, and small ones, but there they were!

We came back as it started getting dark, and they had a quick look at my own garden and the strange things I have growing here, and some of my collected plants. Sadly, there was little time, but Sean could inform me of the ID's of some of the mystery plants I have here and was wondering about.

But we chatted a lot and got on very well and I hope they'll return again. At any rate I'm sure I'll see Sean again ... he works at Gariep Plants, a specialty nursery in Pretoria, not far from where my sister lives. Gariep has an amazing diversity of indigenous and tropical African succulent species ... I've already discussed with my sister that we'll go there when again I visit them.

Anyways I'm very honoured by the visit, and will stay in contact with Ernst. He's working on a new book, about the plants that make a habit of growing on cliffs - cremnophytes! And I've already seen several such myself, especially on my recent trip to the Blouberg. So I'm looking forward to this book!

All in all I'm very chuffed about this. Dmitri - I'm sure you'll read this - how about another special feature for Colours of Wildlife, about this little plant, with photos?

A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni

You took the words right out of my mouth, Willem! smiley - biggrin I was just thinking about how we needed the pics in the Post...

What an exciting visit! Collaboration: the secret of science. smiley - winkeye

A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Post 3

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

smiley - cool That really sounds exciting!

A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Post 4


That's great Willem! You must indeed be very chuffed about this visit.

I enjoyed your account, and looking forward to the Post entry!!

ccsmiley - cake

A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Post 5


Wow, that is really cool ! smiley - biggrin
Looking forward to the Post Special.

A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

Post 6


Glad you folks found it interesting! Article coming up ...

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A Visit by Ernst van Jaarsveld

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