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Krantzkloof Nature Reserve – Old Gallery #1

I live close to the 600 hectare Krantzkloof Nature Reserve just in land of Durban, South Africa. To have such a Nature Reserve within a Metropolitan like Durban is pretty unique as Krantzkloof has fine examples of coastal forest and grasslands with several rare and endangered plants .I have not been taking many landscapes recently but I have been exploring the reserve as part of my trail running training. More of that later.

By exploring more I have a whole lot of compositions and new shots in my head that I want to take in the upcoming raining season but in the mean time I thought I’d post a selection of some of my early landscapes. It is interesting for me to see how my editing has changed since these shots.


Chairmen of the African Violet Appreciation Society circa 2032

If I get a chance to reach an advanced age I’d like to be Chairmen of the African Violet Appreciation Society. It’s a cool name for an organization but more importantly I could bore everyone with wildly exaggerated stories of my Strep hunting days in Africa. In the mean time I’ll just post an entry on a free blog.

The Streptocarphus genus belongs to the Gesneriaceae ( African Violet )family. Often referred to as streps amongst its followers it is very closely related to the Satinapaula genus, which is more commonly referred to as African violet.

Streptocarpus is a large genus native to Southern Africa with over 150 species being recognized. There are two main divisions or sub genera within the genus. One is what I would call a more conventional-looking plant with stems, leaves and flowers from the leaf axial. The other subgenus grows with either leaves, which grow an irregular rosette with several leaves emerging directly from the ground, or my favorite as a single leaf, the only leaf the plant will ever produce. Many of the plants are monocarpic meaning they die after producing seed and are thus not popular in cultivation. However the more conventional plants are extremely popular hence the many clubs and societies that exist all over the world.

The single leaf variety are most fascinating plants, they have a tropical look to them and although the flowers are what I presume attracts the most attention for me the leaf is something special. The photo below of  the famous English botanist, taxonomist and plant hunter extraordinaire B.L Burtt shows him in the Nkandla Forest with a massive leaf of Streptocarpus grandis.

B.L “Bill” Burtt  collaborated with his second wife, the South African Professor Olive Hilliard of the University of Natal, to produce many papers but also three acclaimed books one of which was Streptocarpus: an African Plant Study (1971). It would be impossible for me now to do justice to their contribution to the study and understanding of the Streptocarpus genus but hopefully once I know more about them and the plant I can post a separate blog on their work.

As well as being very popular with gardeners and amateurs like myself the plants have fascinated scientists and botanists as they exhibit some unique morphological characteristics especially regarding their cotyledons and the single leaf varieties .

All the photos were taken at Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, Durban with the first shot being from one of the many wonderful falls in the reserve. The photo above  is Streptocarpus molweniensis which is only known from the Krantzkloof Nature reserve although there is a sub species in Eshowe, a small forest town about 115kms from Durban. It is named after the Molweni River that flows through the Krantzkloof Nature reserve. The majority of streps prefer dark and damp habitats but the last photo below is Streptocarpus polyanthus which I have seen on rocky outcrops and forest margins in more exposed situations. This plant has been in cultivation in Europe since the 1800s.

Disjunct Distribution and the Sun Bird Bush

The word disjunct was not acceptable to my spell check but I know its true because google and Wikipedia are happy with it . Wikipedia has an entry but I am going to rely more on the explanations from A.E van Wyk and G.F Smith’s book Regions of Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa. Reason number one is it is a superb book and two it makes it look like I did more research for this blog entry.

Disjunct distribution is where two or more populations of a taxon are exceptionally widely separated geographically.

A good example of a disjunct distribution is one right on my doorstep probably about 2 km’s from where I am typing this in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, Durban. In 2000 David Styles and Rod Edwards discovered a population of a plant known as Metarungia pubinervia ( Sun Bird Bush ) in the reserve. Prior to this discovery the species was known only to occur in Central Africa and more recently North Africa. A remarkable distribution.

Was the species much more widely distributed in the past but because of major climate changes or loss of habitat it now only survives in these separate sites? Or is the population in Krantzkloof the result of a founder population through exceptional long range dispersal?

David Style showed me one population and the landscape shot below  was taken very close to this. The plant has, thanks to the efforts of Geoff Nichols, become popular in gardens in and around Durban and rightly so.The common name , Sun Bird Bush, is an apt name as this bush is much loved by Sun Birds. This makes it a great addition to a Wild Garden.

How many more discoveries like the above are waiting out there? Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is well explored but even in this Nature Reserve, surrounded by development on all sides and situated centrally in the Durban Municipal area, new discoveries are being made. I have to believe that in the other less explored areas of Kwa Zulu Natal there are many new discoveries to be made.

Road Side Sanity

Mahatma Gandhi has been quoted as saying “ You can judge the progress of a society by how well they treat their animals” or words to that effect. Wise and noble words but rather outdated. I suspect if the spiritual leader was to re visit South Africa today he may comment something along the lines that you can judge the progress of a society by how well they drive.

Sundown above the Umkomaas

I travel a lot on our roads mainly between Durban, Ixopo and Eshowe. It’s a crazy place where the philosophy of non-aggression and consideration to others is foreign to the majority of drivers. But amongst the insanity I try and get to smell the plants and take some landscapes shots along the way. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane.


Much of the areas have been transformed but you do get the occasional patch of intact vegetation and it really lifts the spirits to drive through these areas. All the photos were taken within walking distance of the crazy Durban-Ixopo-Kokstad Road. The third shot below is of the dwarf coral tree ( Erythrina humeana ) and is close to Ixopo which was the small village that Alan Paton described a road running through in the opening chapter of  his novel Cry, the Beloved Country.

the beginning

In the introductory notes of Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps album the writer states that Neil’s album was  “built around Young’s conviction that an artist’s reach must always exceed his grasp:that the alternative to creative growth was stagnation and irrelevancy……..”

14 years prior to the above Bob Dylan had released Highway 61 Revisited, an extraordinary album which had Bob revisiting his own roots and roads but in a way that even 36 years later still sounds like it is light years ahead of today’s popular music.

I have always felt that the word artist has limited many of us and that somehow only “artists” can be creative. With the advent of internet and social media the ability for anyone to be creative and explore and share  is there for all of us.

In this blog I will hope to explore life, revisit and re look at old passions and new interests, looking backwards and forwards and having some fun on the way……….