Saturday, September 26, 2015

Proteaceae at Kirstenbosch

I'm back from my trip to South Africa, and while the purpose of our trip was to search for ferns, no visit to this region would be complete without expressing proper appreciation for the incredible members of Proteaceae that define much of the flora of the area. This flowering plant family occurs primarily in the southern hemisphere, with the greatest diversity in South Africa and also Australia. Here's an assortment of photos of these plants, all from Kirstenbosch...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hottentots region of South Africa

Today's field trip took us to the Hottentots region of South Africa, with many more exciting fern sightings. We saw lots of new taxa that we hadn't seen before, including an Elaphoglossum and a cool Asplenium. It was rather a grey day but that didn't dim our enthusiasm for fern finding...

Asplenium aethiopicum
Blechnum capense
Elaphoglossum acrostichoides
Elaphoglossum acrostichoides sori closeup
Hymenophyllum capense 
Hymenophyllum tunbrigense, a bit different looking than H. capense
Hymenophyllum tunbrigense sori
Rumohra adiantiformis
A damp little swale with a stream, where we found most of these ferns
And as at Table Mountain, a highlight of this trip was finding Schizaea - this time, a different species!

Schizaea pectinata
Schizaea pectinata

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cederberg region of South Africa

Today's trip took us to yet another new region of South Africa, this time the Cederberg region, which is northeast of the Cape Town area. We didn't find many ferns, but it was a beautiful day and a lovely place nonetheless.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Visit to Table Mountain, South Africa

Our next field trip here was to the famous Table Mountain in the center of Cape Town. Because of high winds, the cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain wasn't running, and so we walked up a path that leads to the base of the vertical cliffs, and then took the Contour Path around to the southern tip of Table Mountain. The plants were incredible, both the ferns and flowering plants!

View of Cape Town from the contour path, looking west
Ferraria crispa, an incredible member of the Iris family
Cheilanthes multifida
Cheilanthes multifida
Cheilanthes hastata
Blechnum punctulatum
Mohria caffrorum (left) and Cheilanthes multifida (right)
Pellaea pteroides
When we got to the southern point we walked briefly around it and found a couple more ferns - including a very exciting find, Schizaea tenella. Schizaeaceae is a neat family whose members I don't often encounter, so it was very cool to find it here.
Schizaea tenella
Todea barbarea
And finally, some views from the point and the walk back down...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ferns of Cederburg, South Africa

Greetings from South Africa! I'm in the middle of a three-week trip to the Cape Region of SA to work with my colleagues from the Finnish Museum of Natural History in Helsinki on fern collections for our shared research projects. We've had a fantastic time exploring the incredible Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and have started making forays out into the field. Today's trip was to the Cederburg region north west of Cape Town. Almost the entire fern flora here is completely to knew to all of us, so it has been great fun bringing plant material back to our B&B to go through with the key and figure out what things are. We're also taking samples for DNA analysis and making herbarium vouchers (with permission from all the land owners where we're collecting). If anyone is interested in a great book on the ferns of this region, I highly recommend Ferns of Southern Africa by Crouch, Klopper, and Burrows - it has become our Bible since we've been here!

The trail we took at Cederburg led from a picnic area upslope towards a waterfall high up a mountainside. The first fern we encountered was Cheilanthes hastata. Cheilanthes is a genus of fern in Pteridaceae whose members are often found in dry habitats - not surprising that they are at home in the Cape area.

We encountered C. hastata regularly on the walk up to the waterfall, and the other most common species at the lower elevations was this one, Mohria caffrorum

And here's a shot looking back across the valley when were about halfway up to the waterfall.

When we finally reached our destination, there were ferns galore to greet us. Here are photos of all the species we saw (I think!). Quite a diverse assemblage!

Gleichenia polypodioides
Gleichenia polypodioides
Hymenophyllum tunbrigense right beside the waterfall
More Hymenophyllum tunbrigense

Pellaea pteroides
Pellaea pteroides
Todea barbarea
Todea barbarea
Todea fiddlehead