There are many wondrous tales about the mermaid or water monster that lives at Princess Vlei, but not so many know about the giant octopus on its banks.
The ‘octopus’ plant, better known as a waxberry, or Morella cordifolia, is a sprawling member of the Dune Strandveld plant community. This one, planted four years ago by school learners on the eastern shore as part of the Forum’s restoration project, now has tentacles spreading over eight meters in all directions. In a natural setting, these waxberry plants would be controlled by herds of eland moving through.
The ‘Octopus’ plant was one of many wonderful plants featured on the Princess Vlei Forum Spring Walk on October 2. While the weather was more wintry than springy, twenty die-hard enthusiasts braved the weather to accompany restoration expert Alex Lansdowne and discover some botanical treasures at Princess Vlei.
Lansdowne explained the Princess Vlei is located on a gradient between the acid soil of the critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, and the alkaline soil of the endangered Dune Strandveld. This provides the potential for restoring unique endemic plants that are found almost nowhere else
These include the Serruria foeniculacea, or Rondevlei Spiderhead, a plant brought back from extinction by Howard Langley in the 70’s and cultivated at Rondevlei. Seedling and seeds planted at Princess Vlei are thriving, and the site has the potential to host the biggest community of this rare plant.
Also thriving are other protea species grown on site from specially prepared seed such as the Protea scolymocephala (aka Wit skollie, or sugar bush), and the leucadendron florid, and the beautiful Pelargonium Triste and Pelargonium betulinim.
After the walk, damp chilly walkers were warmed by coffee, muffins and rusk generously donated by Tony Klein at the Jolly Carp Saturday market.
In the words of local resident, Erica Williams: ‘The kids got to be out in the fresh air, with the sun on their skin. We learned about the names, which we'll try to remember, and were made so much aware of the plants that are important. We'll be able to point the plants and flowers out. We’re glad, we joined in with the walk, and want to make a difference to our vlei, as little as the kids are now, so that when they are grown, they will have all the beauty restored to our Princess vlei.
I found the network, unity and just people who want to do more and hopefully get more people involved. We are connected, just as the vlei's flow… how the one vlei, leads to the next. We need each other, we love our vlei. All , I can say is, Thank God, no mall was build on it’
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.