October 18, 2020

Family Thomisidae comparison

UmPhafa 2016:
*Specimen with very light orange markings on left/right of thorax and leg joints, eye furrow not raised
Soada Forest 2018:
*Specimen with darker orange markings,

Posted on October 18, 2020 20:06 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 07, 2020

Coleoptera Pollination Syndrome

Cup/ bowl shaped flowers, with shallow - moderate indents and no deep floral chambers for trapping
Nectar guides as concentric radius around floral organs (centre) or linearly radial
Anthers just below fold apex of petals, beetles collect reward from top down (otherwise out of reach if above)

Posted on October 07, 2020 13:56 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 2 observations | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 25, 2020

Zaluzianskya capensis: Morphological and habitual similarities and differences from specimens in 2 widely separated localities

Z. capensis (Loc: Nondela, Northern Drakensberg, KZN)
*Hairy/ pubescent stems and leaf margins
*Elongated, lanceolate leaves, with smooth margins
*Inflorescence an indeterminate corymb, bracts sparsely hairy, mostly clasping

Z. capensis (Loc: Cape Peninsula, Western Cape)
*Hairy/ pubescent stems and leaf margins, shorter hairs scattered on leaf under and upperside
*Leaves shorter, feintly oblong, margins with well defined, lobe-like teeth
*Inflorescence an indeterminate corymb, bracts densely hairy and recurved at tips

The increased amount of hairs on Z. capensis in the Cape Peninsula is most probably a response to heat stress. Narrower river and drainage zones result in less shady, moist habitats which this species thrives in, hence hairier plants in Cape Peninsula to diffuse sunlight
Differences in bract shape is possibly a response to increased numbers of nectarivorous insects in the Cape as a function of a more diverse availability of macro-nutrients and thus greater competition between flowering plants. More recurved bracts exclude all but the intended pollinator (Hawk Moth)
Differences in leaf and margin shape are probably a response to differences in seasonal ambient air temp and moisture levels.

Posted on August 25, 2020 14:10 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 24, 2020

Order Thysanoptera: Interaction with flower of the Asteraceae Family

Multiple Thrips (Order Thysanoptera) seen engulfed in liquid collecting at the inner base of the petals in Dimorphotheca caulescens
Communal pollination/ feeding by this Order of Insects from Asters is well documented on iNat, but as of yet this is the 1st record of such a mass gathering/ communal feeding resulting in large scale mortality
1.) Is this indeed a mass mortality of Thrips on this flower, or some other event (e.g. mass ovipositing in unique micro-niche [liquid collection])
1.) Is such an event among Thrips during communal feeding, such as in this instance, a common occurence?
2) Are such events restricted to just this species, Genus, or Family of flower? Equally, are they restricted to just this one geographical area (Koppie), or does it have a broader range of occurence?

Further reading:

Posted on July 24, 2020 17:48 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment

June 14, 2020

Summer to Winter flowering progression of Psammophytes: Sandstone Fynbos

Empodium plicatum
Root type unknown, possibly a corm as with most plants in Family Hypoxidaceae
Grows in sandy soils, in flatlands where vegetation is fairly sparse
First flower - April 16 2020

Oxalis polyphylla
Shorter roots than other Oxalis, lacks long taproot with secondary thickening. Contains adventitious/ lateral roots
Grows in sandy soil, often near base of rocks
Oxalis commutata
Long taproot with secondary cortex thickening
Grows only in highly sandy deposits at base of rocks and next to paths
First flower - April 22 2020
Oxalis punctata
Root type unknown, possibly adventitious like O. polyphylla
Grows on boulders, in shallow sand/ silt hollows

Albuca fragrans
Root type unknown, possibly a taproot
Grows on shallow rocky flats, at higher altitudes
First flower - April 22 2020

Lachenalia punctata
Root type unknown, possibly a taproot
Grows in highly sandy deposits at base of rocks and next to paths
First flower - April 23 2020

Euphorbia tuberosa
Root type unknown but likely tuberous as per species name
Grows in varying altitudes, in sandy to silty sand soils in undulating terrain with sparse vegetation, usually present near rocky areas
First flower - May 3 2020

Senecio, Cullumia


Posted on June 14, 2020 19:49 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 7 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 23, 2020

Life stage and flowering of Stachys aethiopica

1st observation:
Peak of basalt, Karoo-dolerite buttress, KZN
Specimen features
*Plant in flower
*Small, tufted herb, very short, with a basal coverage of only 5 -10 cm's (Primary growth completed?)
*No sign of secondary growth (elongation)
*Plant growing in exposed, fire-prone area

2nd observation:
Rocky, undulating slopes, Cape Sandstone, Western Cape
Specimen features
*Plant in flower
*Plant > 30 cm in height, with well defined internodes. Leaves and flowers in well-defined whorls and plant has a scrambling habit, depending partially on other plants in the scrub for support.
*Plant has completed secondary growth
*Plant growing under rocky ledge, surrounded by scrub. Unexposed area but still fire prone


This species flowers both before and after the secondary growth phase has been completed. Variables to consider in this instance would be temp and climate differences (big difference in altitudes between 2 obs), as well as species response to habitat physiognomy (1st ob - open grassland; 2nd ob - Fynbos scrub). However, it is nevertheless interesting to note that completion of secondary growth is not always a pre-condition to flowering. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that in some plants, primary growth involves thickening and leaf development only at the base (growth of basal cover), whilst secondary growth entails an elongation of the internodes and defining of the plants flower and leaf arrangement.

Posted on May 23, 2020 11:37 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 12, 2020

Genus comparison: Plectranthus and Stachys (Lamiaceae)

Plectranthus (Spurflower)
*2 spur-like appendages, erect/ semi-erect, adjoined to the rim of the upper corolla tube hood
*Lack a leafy calyx at base of corolla tube

Stachys (Hedgenettles)
*Lack any appendages on the side of the upper corolla hood. Outer lower tepal lobes sometimes shrunk, superficially resemble spurs but aren't
*Very leafy calyx, immediately subtending at the base of the tube

Posted on May 12, 2020 22:45 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

A geographical comparison of Aloe maculata

1st observation:
Metamorphosed Cape Sandstone ledge - 1680 masl
Specimen features
*Twice to much-branched inflorescence
*Inflorescence >1 meter
*Leaves in basal rosette, becoming slightly caulescent. Withering at tips
*Growing in scattered colony of 50+ plants

2nd observation:
Cape Sandstone slopes, undulating - KZN province - 1565 masl
Specimen features
*Much-branched inflorescence
*Inflorescence >1.5 meters
*Leaves basal rosette, with variable white striations (under and upperside), withering at tips
*Growing in high density colony of >200 plants

3rd observation:
Cape Sandstone plateau - KZN province - 1340 masl
Specimen features
*Twice branched inflorescence
*Inflorescence > 1 meter
*Leaves in basal rosette, with variable white striations (under and upperside), withering at tips
*Growing in scattered colony of +- 40-50 plants

4th observation
Cape Sandstone ledge - Cape Peninsula, Western Cape Province - 210 masl
Specimen features
*Unbranched inflorescence
*Inflorescence <1 meter
*Leaves basal rosette, with variable white striations (under and upperside), withering at tips
*Growing singly or in very sparse colonies of +- 10 plants


There seems to be a positive correlation between an increase in altitude of the habitat and an increase in the number of Aloe's in the population/ colony
Furthermore, there seems to also be a positive correlation between an increase in altitude and the height and degree of inflorescence branching, among a few other characteristics such as leaf shape (lower altitude = broader based, oval shaped leaves)
Both these correlations could be the result of: A) A gradual change in the phyto-communal makeup of the habitats with an increase in altitude (shorter, less bushy, graminoid community more prominent with increasing altitude, offering less competition). B) Slight differences in the geology, soil depth and drainage of the habitat (1st observation - medium grained sandstone, uniform deposition. 2nd observation - fine grained, impermeable sandstone, more exposed and uneven. 3rd observation - Very consolidated sandstone, undulating and slightly metamorphosed by granite), or more subtle changes in temperature as a result of increasing/ decreasing altitude C) Changes in the number and reliability of pollinators, possibly as a result of point (a)

The last point is less likely, as one would expect a higher, more branched inflorescence offering nectar rewards in greater number as the habitat becomes more bushy and the above ground leaf/ canopy coverage increases. However, it is possible that Aloe communities in higher altitude area's take advantage of less competition from dense-growing, caulescent plants by producing more branches and more flowers with a more diluted reserve of nectar thereby encouraging greater genetic dispersal in these open habitats. This remains to be confirmed

Posted on May 12, 2020 20:30 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 28, 2020

Plants to use for making Alcoholic Beverages

The roots of some plants contain moulds and other micro-organisms which, when added to a water infusion or watery decoction, assist in the fermentation process in order to create alcohol

Examples of indigenous South African plants used for such purposes include:
Raphionacme hirsuta
Eulophia sp.

Posted on April 28, 2020 23:54 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 2 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Difference between Senecio and other slender Asters

"Osteospermum more often glandular, Senecio typically has these numerous, thin parallel bracts with sharp tips"

Both Senecio and Osteospermum have
*Keeled upper surface of sepals
*Sepals and pedicels with glandular hairs
*Bracts tips discoloured
*Bracts tips covering the lower base of the corolla and/or parallel on either side to the lower base of corolla

The key distinguishing feature between these 2 and other genii of slender, forbe-like Asters is:
*Bract length - Senecio= bracts >1.5x the length of petals; Osteospermum, Afroaster= bracts <1x the length of petals
*Bract/ gynoecium shape - Senecio= Bulbous shaped gynoecium, and conforming bracts
*bracts non-uniformly stratified, deeply torn, and thinly overlapping in Senecio. Bracts arranged in inner and outer (well-defined) cups in Afroaster

Posted on April 28, 2020 17:26 by anthonywalton anthonywalton | 0 comments | Leave a comment