Monthly Archives: January 2014

31 January, 2014: Moving Forward

 

 

Guinea fowl Clarens

Table of Contents:

  • Time to make a brand new start;
  • Guo Nian – Happy New Year;
  • GREATER CLARENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE  (GCCoC);
  • Phase Two:  Lesotho Highlands Water Project;
  • The Clarens Village Conservancy:  The big Clean Up;
  • Plant of the week:  Gladiolus dalenii;
  • The Twitcher;
  • The Clarens Golf Estate News;
  • Other Community News;
  • This weekend – Weather;
  • This weekend – Other Events;
  • Coming Events –  The Clarens Craft Beer Festival;
  • Regional Festivals – Bieliemieliefees;
  • Regional Festivals –  Rosendal Festival;
  • More Coming Events –  Supper Theatre in Clarens;
  • Information Overload;
  • Classifieds;
  • Not on the mailing list?

 


 

Time to make a brand new start

Today, the 31 January, 2014, marks the first day of the Chinese New Year, and this year it’s the year of the Horse. Over 1.36 billion people in China and millions around the world will celebrate today.

Traditionally, this is the time to sweep out the old and make space for all things new.  Mother Nature certainly seems to be taking New Year seriously.   There are signs of new life everywhere and yesterday we spotted the tiniest little guinea fowl chicks going out for a stroll on the golf course. Mommy hen is however still very shy and she ducked off into the long grass along with the chicks as soon as she saw me. So sorry – no photo of the chicks….yet.


Guo Nian – Happy New Year.

Those born in the year of the horse are believed to be energetic, bright and intelligent, have excellent communication skills, and enjoy entertaining.   They are associated with success, although not always good at handling their finances. And it seems that they will have to pay particular attention to their finances this year as it is predicted that their fortunes may fluctuate.  For those not born on a horse year, the year ahead will bring health and prosperity. It is also said to be an excellent time to travel. And while on holiday, you are urged to mingle with the locals, savour the food and discover new things.


GREATER CLARENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE  (GCCoC)

Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce

Following the election of three Directors to represent Upper Clarens in the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce (GCCoC), an inaugural meeting was held on Thursday to consider the processes and protocols of the Chamber.  The three Directors, Natalie Meyer, Malcolm Hickman and Carl Swerts, established ground rules in terms of the draft Constitution and agreed to meet the Clarens Unit Manager and the Dihlabeng Municipality next week to introduce themselves.

The Board now awaits the nomination of two representatives from the newly-established Clarens Business Development Cooperative in Kgubetswana, in order to convene the first full GCCoC Board meeting.  The Board will then ratify the Constitution, establish a non-profit company and initiate a prioritised order of business.  The three Upper Clarens representatives were elected at a meeting of Clarens business on 27 January 2014, attended by 47 organisations.

While attempts have been made before in Clarens to establish representative business structures, the level of support for this initiative is unprecedented.  It follows considerable business concern over the issuing of business licences for traders on the Square and the collection of 63 signatures on a petition of complaint to the Dihlabeng Municipality.  The business community can therefore look forward to serious representation on its behalf in the future and the co-option of additional expertise from its ranks, as well as regular reports-back.


Phase Two:  Lesotho Highlands Water Project

 

Lesotho Highlands Water ProjectThis year sees the start of Phase Two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.  More than a decade after the completion of Phase One, the green light is back on and it’s all systems go.

Clarens and the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority, having played a key role in Phase One of the Project, have no part in Phase Two.  The entire process of Phase Two will be confined to Lesotho.  The objective of this phase is to radically increase the flow of water through the transfer tunnel by constructing a new dam in the Lesotho water catchment.  As we all know, this current of water flows right under our valley and emerges from the tunnel just north of Clarens, where it joins the AshRiver.  At the completion of Phase Two there will be a considerable increase in the volume of water emerging at the Ash River Outfall, but the structures completed in Phase One are designed to cater for this increase.

LHWP Phase One
Nearly three decades have passed since the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Treaty was signed.  On that day in 1986 agreement was reached that a significant amount of water would be diverted to the north via an underground tunnel into South Africa to supplement the inadequate supplies in the Vaal catchment. Three dams, the Katse, Meula and Mohale, were constructed during Phase One, together with connecting tunnels leading out of Lesotho under the Caledon River and into the Ash River, part of the Vaal catchment system.    Read more


The Clarens Village Conservancy:  The big Clean Up

Clarens Village Nature Reserve Spruit WalkThe CVC rangers together with Lothar Vogl  have started the New Year off with a big clean up. They’ve already  carted away a mountain of rubbish from the view site at  the entrance to Clarens on the Bethlehem Road,   (Nauupoort Nek)   and there are plans to cut the grass, refurbish the sign and generally make the village proud – and a lot more welcoming!  Sadly, the work of keeping the village litter-free is on-going, as the illegal dumping of rubbish  in and around the village continues to be a problem.  And, as if the rangers don’t already have enough to do, they also have to contend with idiots who deface, tamper with, and even remove the newly painted signs on the trails.   Oh well, I’m sure they’ll come up with an idiot-proof solution, but it must get very disheartening at times, especially when so much effort is put into maintaining and improving the trails.

Regular users of the Spruit Trail will have noticed the new bridges and are probably already using them.   Lothar (who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the Clarens Village Nature Reserve)  has however informed me that this project is still incomplete, and there is still much work to be done:   Read more   

 


Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Plant of the week:  Gladiolus dalenii

 


Clarens Village Nature Reserve Gladiolus dalenii Damien Coulson head ranger Clarens Village Nature ReserveDamien Coulson

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a rather useful and aesthetically pleasing wild-flower recently spotted along isolated segments of the Spruit trail & Mallen Walk.

Gladiolus dalenii (African Gladiolus in English; Papegaai-gladiolus and khahla-e-kholo in Sesotho), is an indigenous species that rises to between 1m and 1.5 m tall. The Genus name Gladiolus (of which 14 species occur in the DMR) can be translated as “small sword” and refers to the appearance of its leaves. This easily-identifiable plant is found growing in grasslands and sometimes among scrub at altitudes of up to 2500 m A.S.L., and occurs from the Eastern Cape to Central Africa and even Western Arabia.

The leaves of G. dalenii are arranged in a loose fan formation, erect, approx. 20 mm wide, up to 320 mm long and grey-green in colour. The inflorescence may have support up to 7 flowers born on red-brown to green bracts. The flowers appear hooded and the colour is variable (although a red-fleshy orange colour is common). The flowers are considered “large” at 60 mm long by 30-40 mm wide, flowering from late Dec to early Feb.  Read more

 


The Twitcher

The Twitcher has taken unofficial leave this week.   (Some might say he’s shirking his duties!)  Never mind, this is probably a good time to catch up on previous articles.     I must say that the rest of us at Clarens News are looking forward to the establishment of a bird interest group here in Clarens (See article in last week’s news.)   Then, perhaps, we might find someone to write about birds for a change.  Should you wish to be part of a bird interest group please contact editor@clarensnews.com.

 

 


The Clarens Golf Estate News

 

Lots of  action on the web for The Clarens Golf Estate.  You can now access a video tour of the golf course.  Click here to view.

The other exciting news is that The Clarens Golf Estate has been added to Golfscape:  an internet based network which allows golfers to access hundreds of destinations in 39 countries across the globe.    Click here to have a look.

Congratulations to the team at the Golf Estate for pulling this off.

 


Other Community News

Clarens Family Pharmacy:  Trading Hours from 19th January to NOTICE CHANGES in TRADING  3 February 2014

SUNDAY 19/01/2014  : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED
SUNDAY 26/01/2014 : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED
MONDAY 27/01/2014 : WILL CLOSE AT 15:00
WEDNESDAY 29/01/2014 : WILL CLOSE AT 15:00
SUNDAY 2/02/2014 : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED

Bird Interest Group:  
Interested in being part of a Bird Interest Group?  Read Mary Walker’s article “It’s for the Birds” in this issue. Clarens News invites interested persons to contact us (editor@clarensnews.com) with their input and ideas.

Community Notice Board
Please note that we now have a Community Notice Board on the website:


This weekend – Weather

This weekend – Other Events

Farmers Market: Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This is the place to buy fresh local produce, home baked goodies, and lots lots more.


Coming Events –  The Clarens Craft Beer Festival

Thumbs-up for Clarens:   The Jan 19 Sunday Times Travel section gives a round up of “this year’s best festivals”. The Clarens Craft Beer Festival is listed under “Food and Drink”…. It’s the only Craft Beer festival listed and the only Free State festival listed. Well done Clarens!

Clarens Craft Beer Festival
Of course we’re all gearing up for the Clarens Beerfest.  We’re informed that the tickets are selling like hot cakes (or is that cold beers.)  Be sure not to miss out by buying your tickets on-line from the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage.   
Accommodation in Clarens over that weekend has pretty much been booked, but there is still accommodation available nearby and a list is available on the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage. Should you have problems opening the page  –  click here 


Regional Festivals – Bieliemieliefees

 

Bieliemieliefees Reitz      13 – 16 February 2014.  Reitz

FEES MET GEES

For  more info:
 https://www.facebook.com/bieliemielie

 


Regional Festivals –  Rosendal Festival

Rosendal Festival

Click here for more information


More Coming Events –  Supper Theatre in Clarens

Clarens Supper Theatre On The Square

For further details Click here

Have a look at the Clarens News website Events page.

There’s always something to look forward to.  It may still be a couple of months away but you need to diarize the book launch on 21 March 2014:  Soweto Burning by local resident Don Emby.

Sorry – no information on forthcoming cricket events in Clarens………but watch this space: it could be happening soon.  (Read the Twitcher in last week’s issue  to find out more.)


Information Overload

We’ve been monitoring activity on the Clarens News mailing list.  (Yes – Big Brother really is here.)

We now have nearly 2000 readers who regularly read the newsletter, and a high proportion of these click through to the website.   Trouble is that the weeks fly by too quickly and many of you only get round to opening the news every second week.  Well, given that our own inbox is always full,  we sympathise and have come to the conclusion that it’s all about information overload, and have decided that from now on we will only be posting out the newsletter every second week.   You can however stay up-to-the-minute by monitoring our facebook page, where important events will be posted should they come up in the intervening weeks.


Classifieds

 

Do you have a house you want to rent out?  Need a job? Want to try a totally different gastronomic experience.  Remember to check out the classifeds section.
Advertising on the classifieds section of Clarens News is free.  All you need to do is to email  your advert to:
editor@clarensnews.com

Not on the mailing list?

Click here to sign up 

24th January, 2014

I have really tried hard to write about birds this week.  I really have.  But when a rumour of global proportions does the rounds, what can a boy do, especially when it’s about cricket?

It appears (as the actress said to the Bishop) that a local farmer and businessman has the healthiest of obsessions with red balls and white caps.  In short, he has the most laudable of ambitions: namely, to bring civilisation to Clarens by building a world class cricket pitch on his farm, thus liberating it from the lowly role of feeding the people and boosting the economy.  Well, he is a farmer, so maybe that’s not strictly true.

The point is that this farm, in the shadow of a mushroom rock, could soon be heaving to mammoth fours and sixes at the behest of tall, chisel-featured cricketers of every make and persuasion.  Yes, it may indeed be true.  Imagine, if you will, dear reader, the visiting Australian cricket team taking to the field and bowling cabbages back and forth – all to the rapturous applause of both Australian residents of our own dear village.  And imagine the opposition, the Clarens and Country Districts All Stars, gearing up in the nets, in the shadow of one of the village’s premier wedding venues?

Picture Bruce Weyers, trim in skin-tight Teflon strides and size 59 pads, leaping gymnastically to his left and right, demonstrating the fine art of wicket-keeping.  Conceive, if you will, of the Sector Police Forum Chair lying crumpled on the turf after receiving a vicious bouncer from Les ‘body-line’ Thake.  Picture Ollie  ‘the kilted catcher’ Esplin at silly mid-on and Greg ‘the prowler’ Mousley at silly mid-off, taking profane direction from team Captain and star of the third-worst batting line up in the world, Brad ‘one off the wrist’ Goldblatt.  Imagine!

And imagine the start of play, following the toss with an elderly Kruger Rand.  Crowd tense, cameras rolling, television viewers around the world aghast at the cattle grazing contentedly at third-man.  An expectant hush as a three-metre Australian ultra-fast bowler sends down an ultrasonic bouncer, missing the scalp-hair of Clarens All Stars opener Chris ‘expresso’ Pefanis by millimetres.  Minutes pass and the All Stars are 3 (extras) for 9 and wilting badly in the summer sun.  All appears lost, but wait: Last man standing (well, sort of) is Ray ‘the postman’ Meyers who fends the spinning ball away with alacrity.  The unnamed four-metre Oz spinner rushes down the track and glares down at our Ray with intimidating Antipodean fury and snarls, “Mate, why are you so fat?”

Ray glares back, sparky as ever, and replies, “Because every time I bonk your wife, she gives me a biscuit”.

The match is drawn, due to the visitors being incapacitated by laughter.  That aside, gear up, dear readers, with floppy white hats and cases of the bubbly stuff, because this halcyon vision may soon be a reality.  Just imagine!!

 

24th January 2014: The Chamber of Commerce

Clarens summer Hay bales

Table of Contents:

  • Making hay while the sun shines;
  • GREATER CLARENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
  • Kgubetswana Comes to the Party!;
  • GREATER CLARENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
  • Meeting;
  • Trading Licences on the Square:  Dihlabeng Responds;
  • Self – drive: Clarens to the Vulture Restaurant: Golden Gate National Park;
  • Plant of the week:  Disa chrysostachya;
  • It’s for the Birds;
  • The Twitcher;
  • Other Community News;
  • This weekend – Weather;
  • Coming Events –  The Clarens Craft Beer Festival;
  • Regional Festivals – Bieliemieliefees;
  • Regional Festivals –  Rosendal Festival;
  • More Coming Events;
  • Classifieds;
  • Not on the mailing list?

 

 


Making hay while the sun shines

Summer is in full swing, and the last few days of heat have seen Clarenites wilting.  Shoo …. it’s hot – but who would want to live anywhere else, especially with reports of record snow falls throughout the northern hemisphere. So – as the saying goes – make hay while the sun shines and enjoy these beautiful days.   The farmers are certainly making the best of this hay-making opportunity, as can be seen from the photo taken from the road between Clarens and Bethlehem earlier this week.
This week’s headline – Chamber of Commerce – highlights an important development in Greater Clarens – and the invitation for all business owners to take part needs to be taken seriously.  If you run a business in Clarens – no matter how big or small – you need to attend the meeting on Monday. This is your chance  to make your voice heard.


GREATER CLARENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Kgubetswana Comes to the Party!

 A meeting will be held at 10h00 on Monday 27 January 2014 to initiate the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce, at the Dutch Reformed Church Hall on Main Street.

All business interests in the greater Clarens area will be able to discuss the concept and elect three directors to the first board of directors to represent their interests in the business growth of the village.  Three of five directors will be elected on Monday morning and Kgubetswana will elect two more to make up a board of five directors, including the chair.

In this regard, business interests in Kgubetswana met last night to establish their own business organisation, named the Clarens Business Development Cooperative.  This signal event is an important one for the whole community and confirms the interest of Kgubetswana in development, training and mentoring.  This body will then nominate two directors to the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce, confirming the establishment of a single, representative entity to guide the future development of Greater Clarens.

Recent events, particularly the contentious issue of trading licences on the Clarens Square, confirm the need for such a body to negotiate issue of concern to business and ensure the survival of the village in these harsh economic times.  On a positive note, the establishment of an integrated representative body opens the way to a brighter future for all the residents of Clarens.

All business interests in Clarens and its surrounding farming area are invited to the meeting on Monday and nomination forms for the election of directors are available from The Clarens News .  Representatives of the Clarens Business Development Cooperative will also attend the meeting and provide an insight into their ground-breaking initiative.


GREATER CLARENS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Meeting

Date:  27 January 2014

Meeting Time: 10h00

Venue:  Dutch Reformed Church Hall, Main Street

All business interests in Clarens and its surrounding farming area are invited to the meeting on Monday and nomination forms for the election of directors are available from The Clarens News .  Representatives of the Clarens Business Development Cooperative will also attend the meeting and provide an insight into their ground-breaking initiative.


Trading Licences on the Square:  Dihlabeng Responds

Readers will recall that on January 7 of this year, 63 rate-paying businesses signed a Memorandum of Complaint in respect of the granting of trading licences to vendors on the Clarens Square.  This Memorandum was forwarded, courtesy of the Clarens Unit Manager, Peter Reed, to the Municipal Manager in Bethlehem.

We have pleasure in reporting today that two representatives of the Local Economic Development Forum (Thembalethu Dladla, Manager Tourism and Business Development, and Lebohang Mofokeng, Officer Emerging Business) asked for a meeting with the facilitators of the Memorandum of Complaint, Peter Badcock-Walters and Natalie Meyer.  This was duly held in Peter Reed’s office last week and those attending were kindly introduced by Mandy Prior.  The meeting was positive and to the point: The Dihlabeng representatives went to great lengths to assure Clarens that they were seriously concerned and recognised the unique value of Clarens to the Municipality and the Province.  They were also somewhat in awe of the collection of 63 signatures in less than 24 hours!  The Clarens facilitators indicated that the memorandum summarised the concerns of rate-paying business and that straight answers were required to the questions put to Dihlabeng.

The following points were discussed and agreed:   Read more


Self – drive: Clarens to the Vulture Restaurant: Golden Gate National Park

Self drive - Clarens to Vulture Restaurant

Genevieve Blignaut

If beauty and the vastness of nature is what you seek, the Vulture Restaurant, located in the Oribi Loop in the Golden Gate National Park, is just the thing for you.  The drive of 58 km’s will spoil you with tremendously beautiful views of the Rooiberg and landscapes stretching as far as the Drakensberg. Leave Clarens on the R712  towards the Golden Gate National Park.  Continue straight and allow your eyes to follow the hypnotic lines of farmfields whilst the mountains overhead carry the whispers of ancient voices straight to your heart.  If you fancy some horse riding, why not stop at Bokpoort on the way, or if you have a rumbly tummy picnic at Sunnyside Guest Farm or lunch at The Gourmet Shed are both easily accessible from the drive.  Alternatively stop at one of the many other  treasures along your way:  Café Moulin, Sugar & Cinnamon, The Busstop, Kiara Lodge and the Koffiepot, all filled to the brim with delicious yummies and ready to welcome you with great hospitality.   Read more


Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Plant of the week:  Disa chrysostachya

Clarens Village Nature Reserve Disa chrysostachya Damien Coulson

 

 

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a member of the Orchid family recently spotted in relatively low abundance at just 2 localities in the CNR.
Disa chrysostachya (the Torch Orchid in English; and mametsana in Sesotho), is a perennial that rises to between 250 & 650 mm tall. It usually occurs in damp grasslands, marshy areas or below cliff seep lines at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.L., and occurs from the Eastern Cape to Limpopo.
D. chrysostachya has on average 3 – 5 densely overlapped leaves arising from the base of a thick fleshy stem. The inflorescence is tall and cylindrical and slender. The flowers are small, bright orange/yellow with a reddish tinge. A spur is present on each flower and hangs straight down. The flowers are 5 – 11 mm long, flowering from late December to mid Jan. This plant hasn’t been observed growing in great abundance, which would rather obviously make any sightings all the more dear. It’s growth form is also rather unusual and makes for an interesting observation.   Read more


It’s for the Birds

Mary Walker  Clarens NewsThis Saturday, if you happen to be out driving on one of the dirt roads in the countryside and you find yourself behind an annoyingly slow car, your patience and restraint will not go unappreciated.  The CAR Project is having its summer day out and in various parts of the country slow cars will be driving along routes away from the main roads.  No, this is not a vintage car rally!  In fact, for much of the time these cars will be parked at the side of the road and the occupants will be out of the cars and standing on the veld grass verges, staring off into the distance; with binoculars glued to their eyes, and paper and pencil handy.

These are CAR Project volunteers, made up of many hundreds of persons around the country.  And a carload of ladies from Clarens will be among their count this Saturday.

The Coordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts (CAR) Project dedicates two days each year, one in late July and one in late January, to a mass bird count, where specific bird species are counted in a certain type of terrain subject to specified criteria.  Sounds too much like work?  No, of course not!  It’s a fun outing in your own car, with your own padkos, and with something challenging and satisfying to do along the way.  And at the end of it you are contributing to a national ornithological database.   Read more


The Twitcher

I have really tried hard to write about birds this week.  I really have.  But when a rumour of global proportions does the rounds, what can a boy do, especially when it’s about cricket?

It appears (as the actress said to the Bishop) that a local farmer and businessman has the healthiest of obsessions with red balls and white caps.  In short, he has the most laudable of ambitions: namely, to bring civilisation to Clarens by building a world class cricket pitch on his farm, thus liberating it from the lowly role of feeding the people and boosting the economy.  Well, he is a farmer, so maybe that’s not strictly true.

The point is that this farm, in the shadow of a mushroom rock, could soon be heaving to mammoth fours and sixes at the behest of tall, chisel-featured cricketers of every make and persuasion.  Yes, it may indeed be true.  Imagine, if you will, dear reader, the visiting Australian cricket team taking to the field and bowling cabbages back and forth – all to the rapturous applause of both Australian residents of our own dear village.  And imagine the opposition, the Clarens and Country Districts All Stars, gearing up in the nets, in the shadow of one of the village’s premier wedding venues?

Picture Bruce Weyers, trim in skin-tight Teflon strides and size 59 pads, leaping gymnastically to his left and right, demonstrating the fine art of wicket-keeping.  Conceive, if you will, of the Sector Police Forum Chair lying crumpled on the turf after receiving a vicious bouncer from Les ‘body-line’ Thake.  Picture Ollie  ‘the kilted catcher’ Esplin at silly mid-on and Greg ‘the prowler’ Mousley at silly mid-off, taking profane direction from team Captain and star of the third-worst batting line up in the world, Brad ‘one off the wrist’ Goldblatt.  Imagine!   Read more


Other Community News

Clarens Family Pharmacy:  Trading Hours from 19th January to NOTICE CHANGES in TRADING  3 February 2014

SUNDAY 19/01/2014  : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED
SUNDAY 26/01/2014 : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED
MONDAY 27/01/2014 : WILL CLOSE AT 15:00
WEDNESDAY 29/01/2014 : WILL CLOSE AT 15:00
SUNDAY 2/02/2014 : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED

Bird Interest Group:  
Interested in being part of a Bird Interest Group?  Read Mary Walker’s article “It’s for the Birds” in this issue. Clarens News invites interested persons to contact us (editor@clarensnews.com) with their input and ideas.

Community Notice Board
Please note that we now have a Community Notice Board on the website:  To view Click here


This weekend – Weather

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This weekend – Other Events

Farmers Market: Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This is the place to buy fresh local produce, home baked goodies, and lots lots more.

 


Coming Events –  The Clarens Craft Beer Festival

Thumbs-up for Clarens:   The Jan 19 Sunday Times Travel section gives a round up of “this year’s best festivals”. The Clarens Craft Beer Festival is listed under “Food and Drink”…. It’s the only Craft Beer festival listed and the only Free State festival listed. Well done Clarens!

Have a look at the Clarens News website Events.

Clarens Craft Beer Festival
Of course we’re all gearing up for the Clarens Beerfest.  We’re informed that the tickets are selling like hot cakes (or is that cold beers.)  Be sure not to miss out by buying your tickets on-line from the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage.   
Accommodation in Clarens over that weekend has pretty much been booked, but there is still accommodation available nearby and a list is available on the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage. Should you have problems opening the page  –  click here 


Regional Festivals – Bieliemieliefees

      13 – 16 February 2014.  Reitz

FEES MET GEES

For  more info:
 https://www.facebook.com/bieliemielie


Regional Festivals –  Rosendal Festival

Click here for more information


More Coming Events

Have a look at the Clarens News website Coming Events page.

There’s always something to look forward to.  It may still be a couple of months away but you need to diarize the book launch on 21 March 2014:  Soweto Burning by local resident Don Emby. Sorry – no information on forthcoming cricket events in Clarens………but watch this space: it could be happening soon.  (Read the Twitcher in this issue to find out more.)


Classifieds

Do you have a house you want to rent out?  Need a job? Want to try a totally different gastronomic experience.  Remember to check out the classifeds section.
Advertising on the classifieds section of Clarens News is free.  All you need to do is to email  your advert to:
editor@clarensnews.com


Not on the mailing list?

Click here to sign up 

17th January 2014

Imagine the Clarens Sector Police Forum.  Imagine them engaged in earnest discussion of matters politic, community policing and social responsibility.  Stern, upright men of letters; steely-eyed, gazing into the future with determination and honest vigour.  Imagine them ordering a round of Coke to parch their strained throats, hoarse from the stresses of their unselfish task.  Wednesday evening in the quiet village of Clarens.

Imagine this halcyon scene outside a place of social interaction.  Well, actually, the Grouse and Claret.  Imagine that – coincidentally – an irresponsible driver, somewhat detached from reality, was to circle the Clarens Square on two wheels, at rather high speed, before executing an intriguing manoeuvre in which he rotates his borrowed VW Golf on the proverbial ‘tickey’ and spins around the corner into Van Zyl Street.  All the while, and this is a completely non-judgemental statement, with his car radio straining the range of human hearing.

Imagine, if you can calculate the odds against this, that this young man loses control of his borrowed and uninsured vehicle, and accelerates across the lane and into a parked car approximately one-metre from the assembled ranks of the Clarens Sector Police Forum, now arrested (if you will pardon the expression) in mid-swig.  Imagine, if you can, the moment of complete silence that follows as several brains attempt to re-assemble the chain of events that has, quite fortuitously, unfolded before them.

Fast forward as the SPF kick back their benches and leap into action to save the unfortunate driver (?) from a potentially flaming wreck, only to review their selfless action and switch to arrest-mode as what turns out to be ‘the culprit’ endeavours to reverse away/flee the scene/take a swing at the SPF/have a drink.  The resulting pursuit in a borrowed 5-ton truck of uncertain vintage rivals the Keystone Cops for authenticity but comes up empty.  Only half-an-hour passes before the Police roar onto the scene and begin processing the evidence.  Imagine that one of the stunned assembly considers the thought that the car hit in this incident looks remarkably like his.  Indeed, it is his, a fact confirmed by the long arm of the law in its patient enquiries at the scene.  Thank God for insurance; but – alas, alack – the offending driver doesn’t have any.

Moral of the story?  If you are a lawyer, you might want to avoid attempting the defence of a demonstrably dangerous and negligent driver when the witness list includes the entire Clarens Sector Police Forum, sober and wide-eyed with outrage.  And the owner of the recipient vehicle in this unintended automotive mating.

Oh, and did I mention the horse?  The appearance of an anonymous rider galloping a horse repeatedly around the Square added immeasurably to the wild improbability of the scene.  All we were missing was a young woman with blue hair skateboarding back and forth in front of the Brewery to qualify Clarens for the hologram of the century award.  But of course that’s simply impossible, since such creatures don’t exist.  Do they?

Finally, birds, which is what the editor pays me to write about.  I think there were one or two at the scene, possibly a Swallow or even a White-Faced Vulture, but I confess I was too shaken to take notes.  Not due to shock or moral outrage; but the fact that the aforementioned lunatic missed my car by millimetres, on his way into what will henceforth be known as Lucky Mark’s car.

I do love the quiet of post-Christmas Clarens.

17th January 2014: Summer time, and the living is easy..

 

Clarens to Fouriesburg Pierneef landscape

Table of Contents:

  • Summer Time, and the living is easy….;
  • IMPORTANT COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT;
  • Self – drive:  Clarens to Fouriesburg;
  • CVC Report-Back December 2013;
  • Clarens Skies –  The Emu;
  • Plant of the week:  Scabiosa columbaria;
  • Letters to the editor;
  • The Twitcher;
  • Other Community News;
  • This weekend – Weather;
  • This weekend – Music;
  • Coming Events;
  • Classifieds;
  • Not on the mailing list?

 


 

Summer Time, and the living is easy….

We couldn’t say it any better.  Beautiful days, long evenings, and a chance to recover from the holiday season.  Everywhere you look there’s a photo opportunity, and we had a tough time deciding which photos to feature in this week’s news.  The evening light under a stormy sky throws up the most amazing colours  –  reminiscent of a Pierneef palette.  No wonder so many artists come to live in Clarens.


 

IMPORTANT COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENT

The Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce:
THE WAY FORWARD

Readers of The Clarens News and Eish! will be aware of efforts to initiate a Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce over recent months.  You will also be aware that a Constitution has been drafted and that many meetings have been held with business interests in Clarens and Kgubetswana to ensure the creation of an inclusive and representative body.  The Clarens News would like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone involved in the process to date and notes that the current facilitators, Peter Badcock-Walters and Chris Pefanis, have decided to call a meeting of Greater Clarens businesses on Monday 27 January 2014, to adopt the draft Constitution and elect three members of the first board of the Chamber.

We note however that there are several issues of importance that must be recognised ahead of this meeting.  First, whilst businesses in Upper Clarens have already met in various forums to discuss this matter, those in Kgubetswana have yet to resolve the standing of their business association and its representation.  Equally, recent events in Clarens (such as the issuing of trading licences on the Square by the Dihlabeng Municipality) demand active management by a representative body competent to speak for the town’s business community.  For this reason, the facilitators have deemed it necessary to elect three of five board members immediately, in order to assume negotiations with the Municipality and other parties, but will reserve two seats for the Kgubetswana business community.  Representatives of the Kgubetswana business community will be invited to attend this meeting and agree to the election of two such representatives in due course.

Second, the draft Constitution of the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce will be circulated with immediate effect to every business owner in Clarens, Kgubetswana and the wider geographic area surrounding Clarens.  This will include farmers, guest houses, restaurants and tourist operators in the area, to ensure the inclusion of everyone with an interest in the growth and development of this unique part of the Eastern Free State.  Circulation of this draft Constitution will be by means of a link to this copy of The Clarens News as well as Eish!, Clarens News Facebook page and/or printed copies delivered to those without electronic connections.  Businesses are asked to read this document and prepare to comment on it and/or support its adoption on 27 January.  If you regard yourself as a business owner and have not received a copy of this Constitution by Wednesday 23 January, please urgently contact either Peter Badcock-Walters (peterbw@eastcoast.co.za) or Chris Pefanis (comms@clarenssa.co.za).  Alternatively, if you are aware of a business that has not been included in this mailing, please feel free to print out this information, the draft Constitution and the nomination form referred to below, and pass these along.

Third, a nomination form will be circulated to all the businesses described above and situated in this area by 23 January.  This form will allow you to nominate up to three members of the first board of the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce, including an interim chairperson, to represent Upper Clarens.  Your nominees must be business persons resident in the Greater Clarens area and must be willing to serve as board members of the Chamber.  We note that neither Peter Badcock-Walters nor Chris Pefanis will be standing for office, as their role is simply to facilitate the creation of this Chamber.  Voting for these three seats will take place at the meeting of 27 January following discussion of these points.

Finally, the meeting will take place at the DRC Hall on the corner of Main Street and Van Reenen Street at 10h00 on Monday 27 January, 2014.  As a business owner, you are respectfully urged to attend and participate in the election of the first board of the Greater Clarens Chamber of Commerce.  Your business future in Clarens may depend on your participation and involvement.

The Editor


Self – drive routes from Clarens :  Clarens to Fouriesburg

Self drive route Clarens to Fouriesburg rainbow over Maluti Mountains

Many would agree that the drive between Clarens and Fouriesburg is one of the prettiest in the entire Free State.  A straight drive on the excellent tarmac road takes under half an hour, but it is wise to set aside more time for this beautiful route in order to fully enjoy the impressive sweep of vistas the area affords.  The route runs through the heart of the Brandwater Basin, with the Rooiberg Range to the north, the Maluti Mountains to the south and the Witteberg Range in the far west.  It is a feast of distant mauve peaks, lush green valleys, golden sandstone precipices and, for much of the year, big blue skies.

Leave Clarens on the R711 south, which is clearly signposted as the road to Fouriesburg.  Soon after you leave the town, you will pass a pretty valley on the left, with a small tree-lined river meandering through it.  This is the Little Caledon River, which has its source far to the east in the watershed of the Golden Gate Highlands.  The sandstone cliffs that frame the valleys in the early part of this drive flaunt typical examples of rock overhangs sculptured by many thousands of years’ weathering.   For map and further details click here  


 

Clarens Village Conservancy Report-Back December 2013

To read all the latest news on what’s the Clarens Village Conservancy have been up to Click here
We at Clarens News are particularly excited to learn that there will soon be markers for a new trail (currently unnamed).  Your faithful editor will walk it as soon as possible – and report back. This is after all,  a great time of the year for hiking with so many wild flowers in full bloom after the recent good rains.


 

Clarens Skies –  The Emu


Genevieve Blignaut
Forming the head of one of our most popular constellations in the Southern Hemisphere, “The Emu”, lies the Coalsack. This nebula appears as a dust cloud near the Southern Cross, blocking out the sky almost completely.Nebula’s are formed by the dust and gasses from long-dead stars, but also signals rebirth as new stars are born from these same gasses. The dust particles gravitate with immense power towards each other, in order to create the required pressure for the birth of a star to commence. Nebula’s are extraordinary life-creating life forces and each react in a different manner to the light bodies that surround them. Some nebula’s, like the Coalsack, appear as dark patches against the sky, (absorbtion/dark nebula), others absorb heat from nearby stars and glow as effect (emission nebula) still others only reflect the light of the bodies that surround them (reflection nebula).   Read more


Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Plant of the week:  Scabiosa columbaria

 

Damien Coulson

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a not-so-familiar wild flower that is currently in full bloom…and has something to do with all the Meadow White butterflies Pontia helice helice we’ve been seeing lately.

Scabiosa columbaria (the Wild Scabious in English; Bitterbos in Afrikaans and tlhako-ea-pitsi in Sesotho), is a perennial that obtains an average height of 750 mm. It is usually found growing in grasslands and on basalt rock at altitudes of up to 3200 m A.S.L. This interesting wild flower is widespread all the way from the Western Cape through to Europe and Asia where it is believed to have originated from.

The leaves are arranged in a rosette formation arising from the base and are 40 – 180 long X 40 mm wide. The margins may be entire or deeply lobed. The flower heads are white – off-white/cream, 10 – 25 mm in diameter on a solid yet branched stem of 120 – 300 mm long. The flowers are actually white-pink, when viewed more closely and hermaphroditic. The calyx is easily recognisable with 5 purple-red lobes. S. columbaria flowers from end Oct – early Feb. After flowering, the seeds develop in interesting rounded bristle-heads, which gradually fall apart as the seeds ripen and are ready to be redistributed by the wind.

While photographing the small white flowers of S. columbaria, the author observed several small invertebrates, from beetles to wasps to bees to butterflies perching on the inflorescence. In fact several thousand of the Meadow White butterfly were observed in one location obtaining nectar exclusively from this flower despite many other flower spp.being present in relative abundance in the CNR.   Read more


 

Letters to the editor

On the 6 of January 2014 we were having lunch at the German restaurant on main street where my daughter choked on an olive.
I would like to send a big thank you to everyone that was involved, The Paballos Nursing, the man sitting behind us and the man on the street that helped with the Heimlich, the lady in the grocery shop, the waiter in the restaurant, the restaurant owner and all the people involved.
When we return to Clarens we will pass by to say hi to everyone and let you all meet our daughter Valentina.
I can promise to you all that we will teach our daughter to be kind and helpful as you all were to us that day.
Thank you again
Fausto and Anna Vietri
083 284 2563


The Twitcher

 

Imagine the Clarens Sector Police Forum.  Imagine them engaged in earnest discussion of matters politic, community policing and social responsibility.  Stern, upright men of letters; steely-eyed, gazing into the future with determination and honest vigour.  Imagine them ordering a round of Coke to parch their strained throats, hoarse from the stresses of their unselfish task.  Wednesday evening in the quiet village of Clarens.

Imagine this halcyon scene outside a place of social interaction.  Well, actually, the Grouse and Claret.  Imagine that – coincidentally – an irresponsible driver, somewhat detached from reality, was to circle the Clarens Square on two wheels, at rather high speed, before executing an intriguing manoeuvre in which he rotates his borrowed VW Golf on the proverbial ‘tickey’ and spins around the corner into Van Zyl Street.  All the while, and this is a completely non-judgemental statement, with his car radio straining the range of human hearing.

Imagine, if you can calculate the odds against this, that this young man loses control of his borrowed and uninsured vehicle, and accelerates across the lane and into a parked car approximately one-metre from the assembled ranks of the Clarens Sector Police Forum, now arrested (if you will pardon the expression) in mid-swig.  Imagine, if you can, the moment of complete silence that follows as several brains attempt to re-assemble the chain of events that has, quite fortuitously, unfolded before them.

Read more


 

Other Community News

Clarens Family Pharmacy:  Trading Hours from 19th January to NOTICE CHANGES in TRADING  3 February 2014

SUNDAY 19/01/2014  : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED

SUNDAY 26/01/2014 : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED

MONDAY 27/01/2014 : WILL CLOSE AT 15:00

WEDNESDAY 29/01/2014 : WILL CLOSE AT 15:00

SUNDAY 2/02/2014 : PHARMACY WILL BE CLOSED


 

This weekend – Weather


 

This weekend – Music

Friday 19th January 2014
Friends:  20h30:   Slipstream


 

Other Events

Farmers Market: Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This is the place to buy fresh local produce, home baked goodies, and lots lots more.


 

Coming Events

Have a look at the Clarens News website Coming Events page.


Of course we’re all gearing up for the Clarens Beerfest.  We’re informed that the tickets are selling like hot cakes (or is that cold beers.)  Be sure not to miss out by buying your tickets on-line from the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage.   
Accommodation in Clarens over that weekend has pretty much been booked, but there is still accommodation available nearby and a list is available on the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage. Should you have problems opening the page  –  click here 


Classifieds

Do you have a house you want to rent out?  Need a job? Want to try a totally different gastronomic experience.  Remember to check out the classifeds section.
Advertising on the classifieds section of Clarens News is free.  All you need to do is to email  your advert to:
editor@clarensnews.com


 

Not on the mailing list?

Click here to sign up 

10th January 2014

I promised you birds last week, and birds you shall get.  Well, a few anyway.  First, the baby Ostriches over the Nek are not so little any more.  Half the height of their parents, they are looking positively adolescent and quite chubby, in the irritating way that adolescents have.  Point is that the Ostrich population in the immediate neighbourhood seems to have doubled overnight and, save a raid by the valley’s surviving jackals, may be competing with us for space on the Square.  And if they have R50 for a year’s trading licence and the phone number of the Dihlabeng Economic Development Forum, their presence is a certainty.

More parochially, I literally tripped over a Piet my Vrou in the garden last weekend, having never laid eyes on one before.  Like every other resident of Clarens, their call rings in my ears year-round, but for some reason I haven’t actually seen the little buggers before.  So, glass of wine in hand as I perambulated about my little corner of God’s green acre, I swung past a gum tree to confront the little fellow leaping about in search of food or some other social adventure.  I was with guests who masquerade as Twitchers in a neighbouring country of limited economic significance (just saying), and they brightened visibly at the sight of what was for them also a first sighting.  I have to say, as first times go, it didn’t rival my sexual debut a century ago, but was still rather satisfactory.  The little fellow is quite stout and sports a striped chest like a public school tie.  Most importantly, he was not the slightest bit put out by our presence and bounced about for about five minutes, almost at our feet in fact, turning over bits of twig and gum.  So, in summary, I can confirm the presence of this lovely little not-so-brown-job in my garden, and now wear a smug smirk every time he (she?) pierces the afternoon with a distinctive cry.

Finally, Indian Mynahs.  And Red-Winged Starlings.  In my grapes.  I have just finished construction of a machine gun emplacement overlooking my fledgling vineyard and with tears streaking my ancient cheeks, watching as these unspeakable creatures split grape after grape in search of a drop of sweetness.  Needless to say the gun jammed at the critical moment and I was reduced to bayonet-charging them with limited success.  What to do?  The factories that make bird netting are closed for the summer, it appears, and another year of satisfying grape-trampling and bottling is rapidly slipping by.  So, notwithstanding my deep respect for the Indian Cricket Council’s abbreviated tour of South Africa, I may have to make a formal application to have the visas of all adult Indian Mynahs rescinded.  I know, I know.  It’s hard to make ends meet back on the Sub-Continent, but these fellows will have to learn not to interfere in our wine industry if they know what’s good for them.  In any event, they are lousy eating and I’ve just remembered that these are actually table-grapes.

So birds can be quite interesting, after all.  But not half as interesting as our Kaalvoet who has apparently tired of dunking water-skiers on the Vaal dam and is, as we speak, on her way to the South African base on Marion Island.  A series of hitch-hiking adventures took her to the Cape (not to be confused with the Mother City of Fouriesburg) and a XXXXXX-overcoat got her on board the Navy’s Good Ship Venus.  So we bid her farewell, at least for now, and hope her search for an equivalent partner (check Singles365 for 2.5 metre tall, sensuous silver-backs) and a long and happy life here in the mountains.

What we all want really.

The Twitcher

Aloe maculata (Common soap aloe, Bontalwyne)

 

 

Aloe maculata 1 Aloe maculata 2 Aloe maculata 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. This week we are looking at a succulent from a well known genus with a few cool medicinal uses.

Aloe maculata or the Common Soap Aloe (known as Bontalwyne in Afrikaans or lekhala in Sisotho) is a small aloe of up to 1 m in height. A. maculata is commonly found growing on north-facing rocky slopes in grasslands & open savannah, at altitudes of up to 2000 m A.S.L. This succulent is widespread throughout S.A. and has even been observed along the coast in the Western Cape’s Garden Route (Pers. Obs.). Its wide distribution range indicates that it can tolerate a variety of soil types and moisture regimes.

The leaves are green-red (redder when more water stressed), with pale white spots on the leaves surface. The leave tips are dry and the margins are often brown with small hard brown teeth.  The inflorescence is bright orange -pale orange/yellow, flat topped and appears to resemble a mop. The flowers are typically 45 mm in length and can be seen from June through to September. This plant adapted along with sugarbirds which have long slender beaks with which to access the nectar at the base of each flower. It is an ecologically important plant as it attracts sugarbirds to the area, and its presence in a landscape therefore has good implications for ornithologists. Uses for A. maculata include:

Medicinal

  • Used to treat colds
  • Soothes burn wounds, scratches, stings and insect bites
  • Natural mild “sun-block” , soap & facial rub to smooth skin

Cultural

  • Believed to protect against lightning as a lucky charm

Horticultural

Popular as a garden ornamental (hybridizes readily with a number of other aloes, both in the wild and in gardens).Weekly Plant of Interest

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. This week we are looking at a succulent from a well known genus with a few cool medicinal uses.

Aloe maculata or the Common Soap Aloe (known as Bontalwyne in Afrikaans or lekhala in Sisotho) is a small aloe of up to 1 m in height. A. maculata is commonly found growing on north-facing rocky slopes in grasslands & open savannah, at altitudes of up to 2000 m A.S.L. This succulent is widespread throughout S.A. and has even been observed along the coast in the Western Cape’s Garden Route (Pers. Obs.). Its wide distribution range indicates that it can tolerate a variety of soil types and moisture regimes.

The leaves are green-red (redder when more water stressed), with pale white spots on the leaves surface. The leave tips are dry and the margins are often brown with small hard brown teeth.  The inflorescence is bright orange -pale orange/yellow, flat topped and appears to resemble a mop. The flowers are typically 45 mm in length and can be seen from June through to September. This plant adapted along with sugarbirds which have long slender beaks with which to access the nectar at the base of each flower. It is an ecologically important plant as it attracts sugarbirds to the area, and its presence in a landscape therefore has good implications for ornithologists. Uses for A. maculata include:

Medicinal

  • Used to treat colds
  • Soothes burn wounds, scratches, stings and insect bites
  • Natural mild “sun-block” , soap & facial rub to smooth skin

Cultural

  • Believed to protect against lightning as a lucky charm

Horticultural

Popular as a garden ornamental (hybridizes readily with a number of other aloes, both in the wild and in gardens).

Eucomis autumnalis (Autumn pineapple, herfspynappelblom)

Eucomis autumnalis

 

Eucomis autumnalis : Autumn pineapple

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. Sightings of the often semi-cryptic species are less common – rare, making it a valuable find for keen botanists or avid photographers.

Eucomis autumnalis or Autumn Pineapple Lily (known as herfspynappleblom in Afrikaans or Umbola in Sisotho), is a small  bulbous perennial of up to 60 cm that may be found growing in clumps near damp grassy montane gullies, and on stream banks. The plant has been found growing at altitudes of up to 2800 m A.S.L., and has a widespread distribution from the Eastern Cape to KZN/Mpumalanga.  The word Eucomis hails from the Latin word meaning “beautiful hair” or “topknot” (looking at the images one understands why).

The leaves are usually a dark – grass green colour with some purple mottling at the base and measure 600 X 100 mm on average. The leave margins are often wavy with a purplish – red tinge. The flower tepals are white – green or mauve. When the flowers have been fertilised they gain a green tinge. The stamens bear an unpleasant odour. A characteristic inflorescence is visible above the tepals, with large terminal bracts. The following uses have been recorded for E. autumnalis:

  • Tradition medicines to treat colic
  • Garden ornamental ( natural form or cultivar) which has been honoured with the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Not many sightings of this plant have been reported from within the Clarens Village Nature Reserve and the CVC rangers have only observed E. autumnalis in 2 or 3 localities thus far.

Euphorbia clavaroides (Lions spoor, Melkpol, Fingerpol)

Euphoria clavaroides 2 Euphorvia clavaroides 3 Euphorbia clavoides 1

Euphroba clavaroides  (Lions spoor, Melkpol or Fingerpol) Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to the first of many “Weekly Plant of Interest” snippets.

This week we introduce for the first time Euphorbia clavaroides commonly known as Lions Spoor, Melkpol or Fingerpol – a cryptic succulent species that appears from a distance to resemble the smoothed sandstone rocks that is typical for the eastern Free-State area. This plant is only revealed from afar when it is in flower with many small yet spectacular bright yellow flowers. This plant although small, is important in the ecosystem and to humans due to its many uses. These include:

  • A source of nourishment for local baboon  populations and other animals
  • Dried sap has a historical use as an alternative to chewing gum by children
  • Used in the preparation of bird lime
  • Use in traditional medicines.

It is found only on steep rocky cliffs and rock faces at altitudes of up to 2750 m A.S.L. and has a widespread distribution, occurring from the Eastern Cape right through to the Limpopo Province. The plant was observed for the first time last week by the rangers on the sandstone cliffs above the Scilla Walk hiking Trail in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.  The unusual growth form of the plant is in part due to its location on cliff faces and is a biological protection mechanism used to prevent excessive amounts of evaporation and protection from the wind and other elements.

10th January 2014: Driving Around

Table of Contents:

  • Driving Around;
  • Self drive routes – Ash River route;
  • A great time of the year for hiking;
  • The butterflies are back;
  • Clarens Skies –  Phoenix;
  • Plant of the week:  Zantedeschia albomaculata;
  • The Twitcher;
  • Other Events;
  • Classifieds;
  • Not on the mailing list?

White_Water Raafting on the Ash River Clarens


Driving Around

The best way to explore the Ash river from Clarens is undoubtedly to go by River Raft. (Read about White Water rafting on the Clarens News website Adventure Page :  White Water Rafting.) Alternatively, you can access parts of the river by road.   Read Mary Walker’s description of the route we took this week.  Highly recommended to visitors looking for something less strenuous to do.


 

Self drive routes from Clarens – Ash River route

Self-drive from Clarens Ash river loop map

 

Self-drive from Clarens Ash River Outfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short distance from the village of Clarens is the Ash River Outfall.  The word ‘outfall’ refers to water being ejected from an underground tunnel into a weir before it flows into the Ash River.  Clarens was well known during the nineties for the part it played in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, and the Ash River Outfall bears testimony to the project’s ultimate success.  A self-drive tour of this area will provide you with a fascinating couple of hours of splendid vistas as well as access to the visual legacy of this acclaimed engineering project.  In addition, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of white water rafters bouncing down the rapids.  Leave Clarens on the main tarred road north towards Bethlehem, route R712 (on some maps R711).  On the left, just before the majestic Titanic Rock, you will see the Maluti Mountain Lodge, which was the favoured “watering hole” of tired construction engineers during the nineties.  As you rise out of the valley over the Naauwpoort Nek, the Free State farmlands stretch before you, framed on the right by an imposing flank of Mount Horeb running away to the north east.  Further on are some examples of free-standing sandstone rock formations, so typical of the Eastern Free State landscape.  Read more


 

 

A great time of the year for hiking

This is a great time of the year for hiking – especially early in the morning or in the late afternoon during the cooler hours of the day.   There are excellent hiking trails in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve, within easy access of the town.  Hiking in the nature reserve is free, and the trails are well marked. Some of the trails are easy enough to suit even young children, whilst there are also more challenging trails for those in search of adventure.   Maps of the trails are available from the Clarens Village Grocer, the Old Stone Bottle Store, Bibliophile, Mountain Odyssey and Maluti Tours.  You should also look out for the Clarens News Plant of the week column  (written by head ranger Damien Coulson) which looks at the various plants found in the reserve.   (You can access all these articles on our website) Should you wish to become a member of the Clarens Village Conservancy and support the excellent work done in the nature reserve.  Click here for your membership form.


Falko Bushke sent us an email from chilly Belgium.
Falko has uploaded some great information on hiking trails in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park on his website:  The Solitary Ecologist.

Falko has given Clarens News permission to upload information to the Clarens News website:  I‘ll be grateful if as many people as possible have access to this information.

You’ll find more information on these trails as well as the many other hiking trails available in the area on the Clarens News website hiking page.


The butterflies are back

It’s also that time of the year when we are inundated by butterflies.  Craig Walters wrote Butterflies Flutter by for Clarens News exactly a year ago, and since our present editorial staff cannot come up with anything better…..here it is again.

Belenois aurota, photo by Avril de Montille

Butterflies Flutter by… Single minded things these flutterers flapping fecklessly by. Single minded and of a singular mind and direction. White, brown veined and photo shy. I have tiptoed through tulips and lain among the daisies armed myself with lensed cameras and hunted these connected petals for 2 days now, and when finally one deigned to alight on a flower in front of me, with the focus finally in and the lighting almost acceptable, the battery died… I can tell you that they are of a species called Belenois aurota aurota or otherwise brown veined white butterflies and there are reports of this migration from as far afield as Nairobi in Kenya. Apparently it is not a true migration as they do not return to their place of origin, but instead gun it on a one way mission to the beach, and beyond. Although the entire species seemed programmed on a Journey To the East, some few have been reported to exhibit Durban’s inherent craziness, and these fly against the flow, Westward Ho. Apparently the wind has nothing to do with their direction, and some of them have been reported in Madagascar, impressive since they apparently start in the Kalahari area… There is another species in Asia, but they aren’t this quality, despite being a lot cheaper. I will upload the one or 2 pics if  I manage to capture somein the next couple of hours, but in the meantime these links have some beautiful pics, especially http://momsmeanderings.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/brown-veined-whites-belenois-aurota/ 

See also http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-30514/butterfly-migration-spectacle-cityhttp:/

http://impenjati.tripod.com/info.html


 

Clarens Skies –  Phoenix


Genevieve Blignaut

 

Constellation of the Week
Johann Bayer, a German lawyer and astronomer, depicted the modern constellation Phoenix, for the first time in 1603. The constellation was named after the mythical Greek creature, the Phoenix. These birds are said to have lived on aromatic herbs, the like of Frankincense, Myrrh and Cinnamon.

When the bird reached the critical age of 500 years, it set about to build a nest on the top of a palm tree using the mixture of aromatic herbs. Once the nest was built to the bird’s satisfaction, the Phoenix itself would set the nest alight. Shockingly the bird would die within the burning nest, but miraculously a young pheonix would appear from the ashes and continue to live its life cycle of 500 years.

 Read more


Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Plant of the week:  Zantedeschia albomaculata

 

DamienDamien Coulson

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a monocotyledonous species of the Araceae family that many of you may already be familiar with and could probably recognise growing in your own garden. Heck, many of you may have probably even planted it there intentionally!

Zantedeschia albomaculata  (the Arrow-leaved Arum in English; Witvlekvarkoor in Afrikaans and mothebe in Sesotho), is a deciduous plant that obtains an average height of 750 mm. It is usually found growing in moist or marshy soils or on moist rocky mountain slopes at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.L. Rather unusual is the fact that the so-called “petal” is actually a modified leaf called a spathe, in botanical terms. Minute male and female flowers are carried on one central column or spadix. 8 endemic species occur in S.A., of which 2 species have been recorded occurring in the Eastern Free State.  The word maculata means “spotted with white” or “white-spotted”.

The author has often observed small creatures stowed away in the relative safety of the spadix. These include but are not limited to the Arum-lily Frog and an assortment of bees, beetles and other such animals. This unusual little plant is widespread throughout S.A. all the way to Central Africa.   Read more


 

The Twitcher

I promised you birds last week, and birds you shall get.  Well, a few anyway.  First, the baby Ostriches over the Nek are not so little any more.  Half the height of their parents, they are looking positively adolescent and quite chubby, in the irritating way that adolescents have.  Point is that the Ostrich population in the immediate neighbourhood seems to have doubled overnight and, save a raid by the valley’s surviving jackals, may be competing with us for space on the Square.  And if they have R50 for a year’s trading licence and the phone number of the Dihlabeng Economic Development Forum, their presence is a certainty.
More parochially, I literally tripped over a Piet my Vrou in the garden last weekend, having never laid eyes on one before.  Like every other resident of Clarens, their call rings in my ears year-round, but for some reason I haven’t actually seen the little buggers before.  So, glass of wine in hand as I perambulated about my little corner of God’s green acre, I swung past a gum tree to confront the little fellow leaping about in search of food or some other social adventure.  I was with guests who masquerade as Twitchers in a neighbouring country of limited economic significance (just saying), and they brightened visibly at the sight of what was for them also a first sighting.  I have to say, as first times go, it didn’t rival my sexual debut a century ago, but was still rather satisfactory.  Read more


Other Events

Farmers Market: Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This is the place to buy fresh local produce, home baked goodies, and lots lots more.

Music lovers are in for a treat at the Bethlehem Kine on January 13, 2014:  wine, apperitifs and movie:  Behind the Candelabra : The Life of Liberace


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Zantedeschia albomaculata

Zantedeschia 1 Zantedeschia 2 Zantedeschia 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a monocotyledonous species of the Araceae family that many of you may already be familiar with and could probably recognise growing in your own garden. Heck, many of you may have probably even planted it there intentionally!

Zantedeschia albomaculata  (the Arrow-leaved Arum in English; Witvlekvarkoor in Afrikaans and mothebe in Sesotho), is a deciduous plant that obtains an average height of 750 mm. It is usually found growing in moist or marshy soils or on moist rocky mountain slopes at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.L. Rather unusual is the fact that the so-called “petal” is actually a modified leaf called a spathe, in botanical terms. Minute male and female flowers are carried on one central column or spadix. 8 endemic species occur in S.A., of which 2 species have been recorded occurring in the Eastern Free State.  The word maculata means “spotted with white” or “white-spotted”.

The author has often observed small creatures stowed away in the relative safety of the spadix. These include but are not limited to the Arum-lily Frog and an assortment of bees, beetles and other such animals. This unusual little plant is widespread throughout S.A. all the way to Central Africa.

The leaves of Z. albomaculata are roughly arrow shaped and usually occur with white spots, although some have been recorded without.  The spathe is usually an off-white – cream or even pale yellow colour, cyclindrical (approx. 170 mm long) and has a relatively narrow mouth when compared to some other spp. of the the Zantedeschia genus. The spadix is 40 mm long and a bright mustard yellow. A deep purple spot may be present on the inside base of the spathe.This pleasant looking plant flowers from  Nov – Dec. The fruit are green and cause the stem to bend towards the ground. Uses include:

Culture

A yellow-green dye is derived of the plant.

Commercial value

Due to high demand, Z. albomaculata has been harvested extensively in certain areas of the country in years gone by.

Kniphofia ritualis

IMG_70889153061455.jpg Knifofia

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a striking monocotyledonous plant of the Asphodelaceae(Red-hot poker) family that is just now coming into flower.

Kniphofia ritualis (leloele-la-Lesotho in Sesotho), a hardy perennial, ranges from around 0.8-1 m tall. The name Kniphofia is derived from the Surname of a Professor of medicine JH Kniphof. Ritualis refers to the fact that the plant is used by Sesotho girls in Lesotho during traditional initiation rituals.

K. ritualis is generally solitary, occurring on wet grassy slopes or in loose damp soil at altitudes of between 1800-3000 m A.S.L., and is endemic to the Eastern Mountain Region from the Free State to KZN.

The leaves of K. ritualis are 400-900 mm long by 12-24 mm wide, soft, v-shaped and the margins are finely toothed. Running ones finger against the grain may result in a papercut that although superficial is painful nonetheless. The inflorescence range from 90-140 mm in length by 40-50 mm wide. The buds are a bright orange and the flowers a bleached yellow – 25-35 mm long. This striking plant flowers from  late December through to March. Uses include:

Culture

Used in traditional rituals during rites of passage for Sesotho women.

Gardening

Makes a striking ornamental garden plant.

Medicinal use

It’s thought that the roots of the plant may possess pain relieving properties.

Other human use

The leaves of this plant have been used to plait rope.

Conservation Status

According to SANBI, K. ritualis is classified as of Least Concern.

Rosa rubiginosa

rosa 1 rosa 2 rosa 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a non-indigenous species of the Rosaceae family that many of you may already be familiar with, but is of great interest nonetheless.

Rosa rubiginosa (known as the Eglantine Rose or Sweet Briar in English, Wilderoos in Afrikaans & mamarosa in sisotho), is a deciduous shrub of around 2-3 m high. The name eglantine is from Middle English eglentyn, from Old French aiglantin or from aiglent meaning ‘sweetbrier’. Sweet refers to the subtle fragrance of the leaves which are reminiscent of the scent of apples, while briar or brier refers to the plant being a thorny bush. R. rubigonosa may be found growing in dense groves in disturbed areas and near rivers or streams, and even on moist south facing slopes in the Eastern Free State. Widespread from the WC – Kwa-Zulu Natal. The leaves of R. rubigonosa are pinnate and vary between 50-90 mm in length with 5-9 oval leaflets with serrated margins and bearing small hairs. The stems are green-reddish brown, approx 1 cm in diameter and have numerous small hooked thorns. The flowers are 18-30 mm in diameter, with 5 petals – white in the centre grading to pink with multiple yellow to burned-orange stamens. The flowers are usually produced in clusters of 2-7. Flowering occurs from Oct – Dec. The fruit – called “hip” (hence the common rose-hip association) are globose to oblong, deep red and 10-20 mm in diameter.

 

Uses include:

Cultivation

R. rubigonosa can be trimmed to make a stunning and effective hedge. Many also value the plant for its pleasant scent.

Food & Drink

The petals can be used to draw an infusion of sweet scented flower-water. The hips can be used to make, jam, jelly, syrup, rose hip soup, beverages, pies, bread, wine, and marmalade. They can also be eaten raw, like a berry, if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit. The young flexible green stems can be peeled-back to reveal a succulent section of the plant reminiscent of cucumber in taste and texture (edible –chew and swallow). The hips and stems have often been used by herdsmen and young boys of the Sesotho culture to appease their appetites, especially during summer.

Medicinal

The hips are a nutrient-rich source of nourishment. 100 grams of the hips may contain up to 710% the r.D.A. of vitamin C. Hips are also rich in vitamin A, (86%), Calcium (16%), B-6 (5%), D, E, iron (6%), magnesium (17%), K, Protein, sugar, fibre, essential fatty-acids and flavonoids . Rose-hip syrups were developed during World War 2 at a time when citrus was difficult to import and soldiers needed a dose of vitamin C to stave of colds and flu. Rose-hips also possess compounds found to be effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis – apparently due to both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

Conservation Status

According to SANBI, R. rubigonosa is a declared category 1 invader species in S.A. and has become naturalised in the EC, WC, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpum, North-West and Limpopo.

Papaver aculeatum

Poppy 1 Poppy 2 Poppy3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a small dicotyledonous plant from the Papaveraceae (poppy) family.

Papaver aculeatum (known as the Orange Poppy in English, Doringpapaver in Afrikaans or sehlohlo in sisotho), is a small herb of around 0.1 – 1.5 tall depending on the surrounding geology. It may be found in rocky places, among scrub, in dry riverbeds and on cliffs, often proliferating in areas of disturbance.  P. aculeatum grows at altitudes of 1600-2950 m A.S.L. and is generally widespread throughout S.A. Spp. Of the Papaver genus are all moderately frost tolerant. This small herb is interesting as it is the only poppy originating from the Southern hemisphere.

 This is not a herb that one would generally hand-pick without gloves as it is covered in stiff yellow spines and fine hairs and could result, if nothing else in itchy hands. The leaves are approx. 120-130 mm in length and are deeply lobed, with the toothed margins appearing almost tattered.  The flower, although simple in design is an attractive light-burnt orange, flowering from October through to March. The fruit are tiny (10-20 mm wide), ribbed and oval.

Human uses

P. aculeatum, distant relative of the Opium Poppy, are used as a pot herb by the sotho culture, having been grown from seed.

The Papaver genus is synonymous with several illicit activities but also has many beneficial medicinal uses. I find that a wealth of information on this interesting genus may be found online.

Coprinellus disseminatus

Fungi 1 Fungi 2 Fungi 3

 

DamienDamien Coulsen

 

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. Interestingly enough these little fellows don’t actually belong to the Plantae kingdom at all…

Coprinellus disseminatus (known as Fairies’ Bonnets in English or Bondelinkmus in Afrikaans) belong to their own unique kingdom – Fungi. Fungi can be classed into 2 major groups – micro (scopic) or macrofungi. Fungi are either saprobic (deriving nourishment from decaying organisms) or pathogenic (disease causing) and in essence facilitate the cycle of life to death to life again. Fungi have been associated with plants, wild animals and humans since time immemorial.

C. disseminatus may be found growing on woody material, such as fallen logs and the likes and even grows on ground in close proximity to decaying wood. The fruit bodies are clustered in groups and are attached to the substrate by a stipe. Unlike most coprenoid class fungi, these do not dissolve into a black-gooey ink-like mess when mature.These little mushrooms are widelly distributed throughout S.A. and “fruit” (refering to the development of the visible section of the fungus above-ground)  in summer. The cap (up to 20 mm) is roughly oval or hemispherical. The margin or rim is even with a grooved surface that is cream-white and eventually fading to grey-brown with a brownish central spot. The stipe or fungal stem, is both central and slender and always short. It is also cylindrical, white, hollow, ringless and fragile. The lamellae (underside of the cap) is white and fades to either grey or black with time. The flesh of the cap is very thin and almost odourless.

Human uses

C. disseminatus are actually edible, however they shrink so much during cooking that unless you have access to a large grove of them, they are virtually useless for that purpose.

Dianthus basuticus subsp. basuticus

Dianthus 1 Dianthus 2

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest” where we’ll be looking at a member of the carnation family.
Dianthus basuticus subsp. basuticus (known as the Lesotho Dianthus, Lesotho Carnation or Drakensberg Carnation in English, Lesothose grootblom-wilde angelier in Afrikaans or hlokoa-la-tsela in Sisotho), is a dicotyledonous herb which often forms small mats on rocky grass slopes, crevices of rock sheets and on cliffs. “Dios” refers to divine (scent) whilst “anthos” refers to the flower, most likely referring to the heavenly scent of some species in the genus. What makes it interesting is that there are only 4 species of Dianthus growing in the entire Eastern Free State. D. basuticus subsp. basuticus was photographed on the Kloof Mountain Trail (Distr. Eastern Mountain Region – Mpumalanga) which would make sightings of this species rare unless you are eager for a bit of a climb. This little herb grows at altitudes of between 1400 and 3050 m A.S.L.

 

The leaflets are basal (arising from the base of the plant) and resemble a dense tuft of grass. From a biological perspective this is interesting as it ensures that the plant remains well concealed for the part of the year when its not in flower. The leafes measure approximately 100 mm long by 15 mm in diameter.The flowers are always solitary on their flowering stems (110 – 450 mm long) but may occur in their myriads in one specific location. The flower is relatively small (30 mm diameter) and shades from white to pale to bright pink. What makes it attractive is the toothed or even long fringed margins which gives it a somehow almost feminine or elegant appearance. Flowering occurs from late November – March.

Human uses:
Traditionally used in the sisotho culture as a love charm (ahem single ladies and gentlemen). Also used in other traditional medicine’s and magic.

Live-stock
D. basuticus subsp. basuticus has reportedly been used to increase the fertility rate of bulls.

Conservation Status:
Although no status was found it is most likely classified as of Least Concern (LC).

Searsia divaricata – Fire thorn Karee, Common Currant-rhus

 

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Searsia divaricata Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Searsia divaricata Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Searsia divaricata

 

Searsia divaricata (known as the Rusty-leaved Currant or Mountain Kuni-bush in English, Berg-koeniebos in Afrikaans or kolitsana in Sisotho), is a shrub with multiple stems that grows up to 3 m tall.  The word divaricata is translated as spreading in English and refers to the spread of its branches. This shrub grows among rocky outcrops and cliff bases. This currant reaches the highest altitude of any currant at up to 2750 m A.S.L and occurs from the Eastern Cape through to Gauteng.

The leaflets are somewhat leathery, a dark olive green above, with grey-green to redish-brown hairs below. The margins are slightly rolled under and the leaf apex varies from flat to pointed.  Leaf sisez vary from 28 mm long by 13 mm wide to 51 mm long by 28 mm wide in adults.  The flowers are often red-brown and grow in small sprays (up to 30 mm long) on the leaf axis in January. . The midrib and the secondary veins are conspicuous and raised below. The fruit are very small (3 – 5 mm) and are reddish-brown, round and glossy when mature. Expect to find them from October – January.

Human uses

Traditionally the heartwood has been used for making “knopkierries” and has its uses in the sisotho culture as one of several plants that is believed to induce rain during traditional rain-making ceremonies.

Medicinal

The leaves are dried and crushed and then smoked as a means of alleviating symptoms of coughs and colds.

Conservation Status:

Classified as of Least Concern (LC) according to CITES database.

Geranium robustum

Geranium 1 Geranium 2 Geranium 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a plant from the Geraniaceae family that has just recently come into full bloom.

Geranium robustum (known as Cranesbill in English), is a medium sized shrub of up to 1 m tall. The Greek word Geranos is translated as “crane” in English, referring to the shape of the seed, which resembles a crane`s bill. This plant grows on moist shrubby mountain slopes and along stream at 1600-2590 m A.S.L., and grows from the Eastern Cape through to Mpumalanga.

 The leaves of G. robustum are around 50 mm in diameter and usually 5 lobed right down to the base. Each lobe is sub devided several times with venation of a peculiar appearance on the upper basal surface. The leaves have a silky texture and a silvery hairy upper surface whilst they are yet more silvery below. The leave stalks can be up to 100 mm long. The flowers’ elegance lies contrary-wise  in their simlicity as they consist of 5 light purple petals with purple venation which draws focus to the off-white centre colouration. Flowers are approximately 25 mm in diam. Flowering occurs from November  – March.

Uses:

Gardening

G. robustum makes a lovely natural looking cover and the trailing stems look very effective growing through shrubs, large perennials and over or even between garden fencing. Geraniums generally take some shade, particularly in the afternoon and are one of the most sun tolerant, only needing protection in the hottest of summers. G. robustum is one of the few Geraniums that can be propagated by cutting and rooting a terminal or lateral shoot from the parent plant in autumn. May spread relatively easily if not kept in check.

Conservation

Forms a beautiful matt-like ground cover and could therefore be used with the duel-function of stabilisation of eroding stream banks as well as increasing the aesthetic appeal of mentioned banks.

Conservation Status:

Although no definitive status could be sourced, this plant is capable of growing in harsh conditions amongst other shrubs, and is therefore likely to be of least concern.

Helichrysum callicomum

Helichrysum 1 Helichrysum 2

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a relatively conspicuous plant that many of you would have seen if you’ve recently found yourself walking our trails.

Helichrysum callicomum (known as motoantoanyane in sisotho – English common name not available), is a medium sized perennial tufted herb, growing up to 400 mm tall.Kalli is Greek for beautiful, kome is the Greek word for hair and likely refers to the numerous flowering branches and golden inflorescences resembling a beautiful hairdo. This plant grows on river flats, gravelly banks, and overgrazed areas at 1800-2400 m A.S.L., and grows from the Eastern Cape to Zimbabwe.

H.callicomum has thin, flexible and tufted woody stems. The stems range between a grey-white and the leaves are densely tufted. The leaves are 25 long by 6 mm wide, are blunt tipped, felted and a light grey. The inflorescense is is usually 60-80 mm in diameter and is roughly rounded. The individual flowerheads are 4 mm long by 1 mm wide and bracts are close to straw coloured. Flowering occurs from Feb – May.

Uses:

Used traditionally as a protective charm. Indicator of veld condition and recent disturbances as it tends to proliferate in overgrazed areas.

Conservation Status:

Least concern (CITES), as it proliferates in disturbed veld.

Gnidia capitata (Gifbos)

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Gnidia capitata Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Gnidia capitata Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Gnidia capitata

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at another plant of the Gnidia genus (family of Brandbos which was published in one of the very first PoI snippets).

Gnidia capitata (commonly known as Gifbos in Afrikaans and setele in sisotho), is a medium sized perennial shrublet of up to 300 mm tall. The genus name Gnidia is derived from Knidos – an ancient Greek city. This plant grows in rocky grasslands at up to up to 1800 m A.S.L., and is widespread throughout the eastern regions of S.A.

The leaves on G. capitata are blue-green to grey, sharply tipped, relatively narrow (30 mm long X 3-6 mm wide) and appear tufted. The plant is generally multi-stemmed. The infloresecens is surrounded by a somewhat wider collar of leaves and the flowers are small (aprox 6 mm diameter with calyx tube of around 15-25 mm long), glossy and five lobed. Fine silky hairs cover the flowers and the sepals are a mustard orange-yellowand silky hairs below. The petals are smaller and scale-shaped. The flowers are in full bloom from Oct- Dec.

Medicinal uses:

Traditionally G. capitata has been used in the treatment numerous ailments. Laboratory analyses indicates over 90 secondary compounds that have known medical value. Consumption has resulted in livestock casualties and is also fatal if ingested by humans.

Other uses:

Indicator of veld condition and recent disturbances as it tends to proliferate after fires.

Conservation Status:

Not threatened (CITES), however caution is advised as this plant is widely harvested for its medical values.

 

Damien1-100x100Article and photography by Damien Coulson (Head ranger Clarens Village Nature Reserve)

 

 

 

Click here for more articles on the plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Dichoma anomala (Fever bush, Aambeibos)

Dichoma 1 Dichoma 2

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a small perennial herb that grows in summer rainfall areas and tends to conceal itself between tufts of grass.
Dichoma anomala (commonly known as Fever Bush in English, Aambeibos in Afrikaans and hloenya in sisotho), is a small monocotyledonous plant with stems approximately 50-600 mm long. Dichoma means “two-tufted” (Di-two & coma – tuft of hairs) and refers to the hair-like appearance of the floral bracts. Anomala is Latin and means irregular or deviating from the normal. D. anomala is widespread, growing in stony poor-soiled grasslands and in the crevices of rock sheets up to 2075 m A.S.L.

D.anomala is a reclining herb, with long narrow leaves (90mm long by 2-10 mm wide) which are green above and velted white beneath. The most noteworthy part of the plant is its conspicuous flowerheads (30-50 mm diameter) of a bleached purple-pink hue with sharply pinted narrow bracts. The small branchlets tend to curve upwards. The flowers are in full bloom from Jan – May but are visable in their dried state through most of the year as an off-white colour.

Medicinal uses:

Traditionally the plant has been used in the treatment of a wide-variety of human and plant ailments, some more in-depth descriptions of its uses may be found online. Interestingly enough a compound (identified as dehydrobrachylaenolide) in this plant has recently gained interest in the pharmaceutical industry as it has been found to bear anti-plasmodial properties that act against the malaria microbe.

Other human uses:

Consumed in a beverage as a variation of herbal tea. Could potentially make for an interesting household ornament in its dried state. Can be planted in gardens under variable soil conditions.

Conservation Status:

Not threatened (CITES), however caution is advised as this plant is widely harvested for its medical values.

Albuca pachychlamys (Soldier-in-the-box)

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Greetings to all our  Clarens Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”  found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.  We’ll be looking at a small geophyte that requires a keen eye and a bit of an adventurous spirit to locate.
Albuca pachychlamys (commonly known as Soldier-in-the-box in English, and mototse in sisotho), is a small monocotyledonous plant of approximately 250 mm in height, usually occurring singly. A. pachychlamys is widespread, growing in grasslands near rocky outcrops up to 2400 m A.S.L.

A. pachychlamys is a bulbous plant, with a brush of dark bristles topping the bulb and several thick tunics. Bulbs function as food storage devices for times when conditions are adverse, thereby acting as a protection mechanism in times when most other plant forms begin to deteriorate. The leaves are narrow (often less than 3mm wide). The flowers are located atop long erect pedicels with 10 – 15 mm long white tepals which are green striped, flowering from September – December. The flowers scent is also said to resemble a spicy variety of vanilla.

No medicinal uses have been attributed to A. pachychlamys as it appears that information relating to species of the Albuca genus is limited. It is this very fact that makes the plant interesting – there is still much research to be potentially conducted around the plant and until then it’s possible uses remain a mystery. The unique growth form of this small bulbous plant makes it also of aesthetic interest and could possibly make an interesting pot-plant.

Merwilla plumbea – Blue Scilla

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a bulbous perennial that has in recent years been much targeted and depleted in the Clarens Nature Reserve by domestic goats.

Merwilla plumbea (commonly known as the Blue Scilla in English, Blouslangkop in Afrikaans and kherere in sisotho), is a small sized plant of approximately 1 m in height, sometimes occurring in “colonies”. M. plumbea is widespread in the eastern summer rainfall regions and grows on cliffs and rocky slopes from 1675 – 2100 m A.S.L. This striking plant is frost resistant and may be grown from seed.

A large quasi-above ground bulb is always visible and is covered in layers of purple-brown sheathes, somewhat resembling an oversized onion. The plant possesses few leaves as these are usually shed annually. The leaves are erect prior to flowering and broad, tapering to a point. After flowering the leaves become much larger (30-80 mm X 10-35 mm) and appear wilted until they turn a coppery gold in autumn and are finally shed. The flowers are small, less than 10mm in diameter and are born in great numbers on a single erect green stem (approx. 15 mm diameter) of up to 2-3 feet. The flowers are a purplish blue colour with white filaments. It’s worth mentioning just how visually striking this plant is, even at great distances. The Blue contrasts rather nicely with the earth toned rocky surrounds and the stem appears to “reach for the heavens” in defiance of the barrenness of the apparently water scarce surrounds.

Animal Interactions

Despite its strikingly attractive appearance, the Blue Scilla is toxic to animals such as sheep, although goats frequently make a meal out of the poor plant. This is usually the case with both plants and animals in nature. Striking beauty (or aposematic colouration in scientific terminology) is often a visual cue that warns potential predators of the unpalatable and potentially lethal nature of the organism (sounds like the human dating game – guys take note!). Any animal trying to take a bite soon learns from its mistake.

Medicinal uses

Parts of M. plumbea have been used to treat internal tumours, boils, bone fractures and even in the treatment of lung disease in cattle.

General Human Uses

The bulb has been used to make soap.

Gymnosporia buxifolia (Pioneer spikethorn)

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

DamienGreetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest” (based on plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.)  We’ll be looking at a woody plant species that is part of the spike-thorn family.

Gymnosporia buxifolia (commonly known as the Pioneer Spikethorn in English, Gewone pendoring in Afrikaans and Sephatwa in sisotho), is a medium sized plant of 2 – 3 m in height and is widespread throughout Africa. Gymno is Greek for naked and spora means seed. Buxifolia refers to the shape of the leaves (similar to the Boxwood Buxus). G. Buxifolia grows in a wide variety of habitats including forests and grasslands – often among rocks. This tree grows alone or in dense intermingled clumps at altitudes of up to 2100 m A.S.L.

G. buxifolia has a single stem with an angular, untidy outline formed by haphazardly upward growing branchlets. The bark of mature trees is rough, dark grey to brown and is deeply furrowed, forming regular, protruding blocks. Spines of variable length are common and leaves may grow on the spines themselves. Simple pale grey-green leaves are clustered on the end of short, stubby twigs, forming “sleeves” around them. The clusters of conspicuous, white star shaped flowers have a smell that is reminiscent of decaying meat. Tough, yellow to brown –red capsules grow in clusters and each capsule encloses 3 seeds which are covered in a fatty pulp (aril).

G. buxilfolia is evergreen and a combination of leaves, spines and bark are characteristic of the tree. Flowers are in season from February – June and the capsules from December – May. Leave size and shape is variable but always have a shallowly toothed margin. Young leaves have red-edges (10 – 90 X 4-50 mm). Flowers grow on thick twigs with male and female flowers on separate trees. Spines may be absent on some branches and from some young trees though in general young trees have more spines than older specimens, which grow from below the leaf-bud.

Gardening

Even though it looks very attractive when flowering, G. buxifolia is not generally used as a garden tree and the smell of the flowers can be off-putting for some. It has however been used to make a suitable bonsai.

Human Uses

This irregular plant has been carved into musical instruments, used for stools, spoons as well as in making knobkerries. The fruit are edible however they will not be replacing the tastier supermarket options. There have been accounts of the use of G. buxifolia as a medicinal tree and the bark has been used to treat dysentery and diarrhoea and the roots and thorns utilised for colds and coughs. Rumour has it that the plant may be used in the treatment of snakebites.

Animals

Flies are attracted to the putrid smelling flowers which they then pollinate and the fruit is eaten by birds such as the Cape White-eye. The flowers and young shoots are often browsed by cattle and goats. This plant is therefore of some minor ecological importance in the landscapes in which they are found to occur and of great botanical interest.

To read about other Plants of Interest found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Moraea stricta

Moraea

Damien

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a plant at the far end of the spectrum as opposed to last week’s PoI – this time around we’ll be looking at a small bulbous wildflower that has only been observed in 2 localities over the last month.

Moraea stricta (commonly known as Bloutulp in Afrikaans), is a small plant of between 15 & 25 cm in height and is widespread throughout Africa. Stricta refers to the straight or upright appearance of the flower. M. stricta grows in grasslands in close proximity to rocky outcrops and slopes at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.LM. strictais interesting in that the leaves are usually absent during the flowering stage (Sept – Nov). A single long narrow leaf (600 mm X 1.5) will appear after flowering. The flowering stem is erect with 3 – 6 short branches. The flowers themselves are small, with the outer petals 19 – 24 mm in length and very in colour from pale lilac to blue-violet. Each petal has a small yellow-orange spot which is thought to function as a nectar guide which helps pollinators to locate the flowers nectar. Around 3 flowers will open simultaneously and close at sunset. This small wildflower is often found in greater numbers in areas that have been recently burned and therefore plays an ecological role as an indicator of disturbed or recently disturbed veld. Another interesting habit of M. stricta is its propensity to appear towards the end of the dry season (it is drought tolerant); just before the first spring rains (could this be regarded as another one of nature’s peculiar ways of keeping us “sophisticated” humans in the loop?).  Keep a close lookout for a similar looking species, M. alpina which flowers from Oct – Dec.

Gardening

This interesting little wildflower can be grown from seed and from transplanting the corms, although most report a low survival rate – thumbs up to those persistent gardeners that manage to grow the little devil!

Cussonia paniculata

Cussonia 1 Cussonia 2 Cussonia 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at woody species whose unique growth form and bark make it a visually striking plant, thus enabling it to be easily recognisable all-year round.

Cussonia paniculata or the Mountain Cabbage Tree (commonly known as Suidelike Bergkiepersol in Afrikaans, or Motšhethše in Sisotho), is a medium sized tree of up to 8 meters. Cussonia is derived from the name of a French professor – Pierre Cusson (1727 – 1783), who studied botany at Montpellier, France. paniculata refers to the form of the branched flower head. Cussonia occurs singly in most instances, or in widely scattered colonies found at up to 2000 m A.S.L. It is found at higher altitudes on warm north and west facing slopes in Kloofs and at lower altitudes in Low-Altitude Grassland among Rocks.

 Cussonia has a central trunk with a dark gnarled looking bark and a canopy of variable size. The hand shaped compound leaves are pale blue-grey to green and form clusters at the ends of thick stubby branchlets. The margins of each leaflet are so coarsely serrated that the leaflets look gnawed (which may actually be the case in certain instances).  Fruit are small capsules which are purple when ripe and grow on conspicuous spikes. The tree is Deciduous or evergreen. Greenish yellow flowers are densely packed in conspicuous spikes. Flowering occurs from Jan – Apr and the capsules form between May-June. The leaves have fairly long leaf-stalks and are crowded towards the end of the twigs. The 7-9 leaflets all grow out of the same point on the leaf-stalk. Leaves are around 600 mm in diameter, leaflets are 100-300 long X 20-60 mm wide, leaflet stalks are on average 200-500 mm.

Human uses

C. paniculata heartwood has historically been utilised for the construction of brake blocks which are then fitted on ox-wagons.

Gardening

This is an attractive plant to be grown in large gardens or along pathways in botanical gardens (if visiting the Western Cape’s Garden Route, the Bot. Gardens in George are a must see). C. paniculata is heat and drought resistant but may succumb to thick frosts and is thus relatively hardy. This plant grows slowly so gardeners should intent to reside at their current dwellings for a good deal of time before the plant can be observed at its full size and glory.

Wildlife & livestock

This plant makes for good fodder while still in its sapling stage. Appropriate barriers would need to be put in place around the tree if animals such as goats occur on the same property.

Rhamnus prinoides

Rhamnus 1 Rhamnus 2 Rhamnus 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a shrubby “bling” species that is easily distinguishable from the majority of the surrounding grassland vegetation.

Rhamnus prinoides or Dogwood (commonly known as Blinkblaar in Afrikaans, or mofifi in Sisotho), is a scrambling shrub of up to 2-6 m in height. Prinoides is derived from the Latin for like the holm-oak (it is possible that both plants share similarities in bark morphology). R. prinoides is generally found growing on forest margins, stream banks and among scrub at altitudes of up to 2150 m A.S.L. This shrub is both widespread, growing from the Western Cape – Ethiopia, and is relatively abundant.

The most characteristic feature of R. prinoides is its conspicuous glossy deep green-blackish leaves.  The leaves are alternate at 30-100 mm long x15-40 mm wide. Flowers are small, greenish and in clusters, usually flowering in summer (Nov-Jan). The fruit are small (5 mm) and round, fleshy and purplish to red in colour.

Food

The fruit of R. prinoides attract frugivorous birds to any garden in which it grows. The flowers and their sugary nectar also attract pollinators such as bees.

Garden

This shrub is frost resistant and makes for a sturdy hedge. It grows quickly and easily and makes a good bonsai.

Medicine

Certain parts of the plant are used in traditional medicines. Root infusions are said to purify blood and treat pneumonia. Parts such as the leaves have been used to treat rheumatism and colic. Leaves have been applied as liniment to treat sprains. The heartwood and root can be applied to beer to produce a narcotic effect. It was also used as a snuff to treat mental disorders.

Chrysanthemoides monolifera

Chrsanthemoides 1 Chrsanthemoides 2 Chrsanthemoides 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a shrubby species that many of you who have ventured out onto our trails will no doubt have noticed, and whose importance will soon become apparent.

Chrysanthemoides monolifera subs. canescens or the Bush-Tick Berry (commonly known as Bietou or Boetabessie in Afrikaans, or ntlou-ea-lekhoaba in Sisotho), is a succulent bushy shrub of up to 2 m in hight. Monilifera is derived from the Latin for necklace (it refers to the arrangement of the fruits on the plant). The word canescent is the Latin for grey.  C. monilifera is generally found growing around the rocky bases of cliffs, among boulders and sandy slopes at altitudes of generally between 1880 and 2240 m A.S.L. This shrub is widespread, growing from the Eastern Cape – Mpumalanga in S.A. and from Namaqualand – tropical Africa. C. monilifera has undergone several name changes since first identified.

Small white and woolly hairs can be observed on the leaves and stems of C. monilifera, giving it a soft felted appearance and texture. The leaves vary in length from 15 – 75 mm and width from 5 – 40 mm in mature plants and narrow until they resemble short stalks.  The leaves are generally thick and slightly leathery with coarsely toothed margins. Flowers are sunshine yellow at approximately 30 mm and occur in small terminal clusters. C. monilifera is unique in that it flowers all year round – an interesting and costly strategy that could possibly serve to increase the chances of seed dispersal. The berries are small and green to glossy black when ripe and fruit from March – July. Some common uses of C. monilifera include:

Food

The fruits are often eaten by birds and humans and the leaves are browsed by antelope.

Garden

This plant is relatively hardy and makes a good windbreak when used in hedges. It can also be grown from seed or cuttings.

Medicine

Certain parts of the plant are used in traditional medicines.

The importance of C. monilifera in an ecosystem cannot be understated as it attracts insects such as ants and beetles which are known to disperse seed, as well as pollinators such as bees and butterflies that are essential to the life-cycles of many flowering plants.

Felicia filifolia

Felicia filifolia Felecia filifolia Felicia filifolia 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a semi-cryptic herbaceous species that may, with a sharp eye be observed on several of the Clarens hiking trails when out of season. In season however spotting is much, much easier.

Felicia filifolia or the Fine-leaved Felicia (commonly known as Draaibos or Wilde Aster in Afrikaans, or sehhalahala-se-seholo in Sisotho), is a small shrublet of between 80 cm and 1 metre when fully grown. Felicia is reputedly named after Herr Felix, a German official who died in 1846 (the genus name could also be derived from the Latin word felix meaning cheerful). The species name filifolia means leaves like fern fronds (referring to the fineness of the foliage). It is usually found on stony flats and slopes as well as amongst the boulder beds of dry rivers. F. filifolia can be found growing at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.L. and its distribution ranges from the Western Cape through to the Limpopo Province. It is therefore widespread throughout much of S.A.

The stems of this aromatic little shrub are much branched with tufts of fleshy, needle-like leaves. The flower-heads, of approximately 15-20 mm, are arranged in a radiate manner and grade from blue-faded mauve in colour. The disk is yellow with 3 – 4 series involucral bracts on stalks of up to 50 mm. One feature of this plant is its massed flower-heads that put on a spectacular display during its flowering season from September – November. Some common uses of F. filifolia include:

Fuel

Often used as a substitute for firewood by the locals of Lesotho.

Garden

Makes a good frost resistant, attractive and aromatic garden ornamental. There is a good deal of information on the cultivation of F.filifolia available online.

F. filifolia is known to occur prolifically in overgrazed areas and is thus an ecologically important species as an indicator of misused veld. It is also toxic to sheep and thus does not make for suitable grazing. The toxins serve as an anti-feedant which helps protect this seemingly delicate plant from becoming fodder for an assortment of game and domestic animals. The slightly aromatic flowers will attract a multitude of pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies, which in turn helps to attract insectivorous birds, thereby playing another ecologically important role in all areas where it’s known to occur.

 

Damien1-100x100Article and photographs by Damien Coulson

Buddleja salviifolia (Quilted Sagewood, Saliehout)

 

Buddleja salviifolia Buddleja salviifolia 2 Buddleja salviifolia 3

 

Buddleja salviifolia, Quilted Sagewood, Saliehoud

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a woody species that most of you will have already seen in the reserve and on several of the C.V.C. hiking trails.

Buddleja salviifolia or Quilted Sagewood (known as Saliehoud in Afrikaans or Lelothoane in Sisotho), is a small tree of 3 – 8 m tall. It is usually found on forest margins, along rocky stream-banks and near cave sandstone overhangs.B. salviifolia can be found growing at altitudes of 1800-2435 m A.S.L. and its distribution ranges from the Western Cape through to East Africa.The twigs are roughly rectangular and woolly and the leaves are oppositely arranged. Leave dimensions are a maximum of 30-140mm and a minimum of 7-40mm. The leaves are soft and textured above and a velvety white beneath with a deeply lobed, stalkless base. The flowers of B. salviifolia are white – mauve and arranged in long dense spikes of 120 mm. They give of a subtle sweet scent and flower from August – October.

The Quilted Sagewood has several uses, these include:

Medicinal

The leaves are dried then crushed and boiled for several minutes and drank as an herbal tea. The roots are also used for medicinal purposes.

Fodder

The leaves are sometimes browsed by livestock and game.

War

The dark brown heartwood has often been used for assegai shafts as they are heavy and sturdy.

Fuel

The wooden stems and branches have often been used in fires for cooking.

Food

The heartwood makes for suitable fishing rods.

Erica alopecurus (Foxtail Erica)

Erica alopecurus 2 .png Erica alopecurus Erica alopecurus 3

 

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest” where we will be looking at a dwarf-shrub species that is most prominent from summer – mid-winter.

Erica alopecurus or Foxtail Erica (also known as Chalbeke-e-nyenyane in sisotho), is a small and compact shrub that grows up to 300 mm. It is often observed in damp grassy stream banks and on marshy grasslands or near grassy montane seep-lines. E. alopecurus grows from 1370 – 3000 m A.S.L. and is distributed widely from the Eastern Cape to Mpumalanga.

The leaves grow in 3’s with an erect and incurving midrib visible beneath. The inflorescences are dense cylindrical spikes while the flowers are tiny, tubular and pink fading to brown out of season. The Latin word Alopex refers to the inflorescence that some say resembles that of a fox’s tail. The uses of E. alopecurus include:

– Burned for fuel by rural communities

– Garden ornamental

– Makes a good subject for photographers wishing to add a unique composition to their photographs.

This particular shrub offers a unique and visually stunning hiking experience along the CVC hiking trails during its flowering period. The rangers suggest that residents indulge themselves and their photographic talents with E. alopecurus once it begins its late summer bloom.

Leucosidea sericea

11th July 2013: Leucosidea sericea

 

Plant of the week 1 Plant of the week 2 Plant of the week 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest” where we will be looking at a plant species that most of you will be familiar with (although you may be surprised with some of its uses)

A woody species, Leucosidea sericea (commonly known as Old-wood, Ouhout in Afrikaans, or Che-che in Sisotho) is derived from the Greek word leukos meaning white – the overall appearance of the leaves, and sericea refers to the silky texture of the leaves. Ouhout is a prominent plant and is therefore easy to spot in and around Clarens – there are no similar looking naturally occurring woody plants that it could be confused for. It is visible on most of the hiking trails and throughout the reserve and riparian areas in the eastern Free State region. L. sericea grows from 1000 – 2400 m A.S.L. and has the ability to dominate areas of disturbance, erosion and overgrazing, thereby playing a role in landscape management. Habitats where it grows include high altitude grasslands, kloofs, north and west facing slopes, along rivers and streams and wooded rocky ridges. The tree has a gnarled windblown appearance and the leaves are compound, some turning a characteristic yellow in autumn. Ouhout has several human health, gardening and animal related uses including:

– Used as a durable fence-pole in permanently wet places

– Crushed leaves are soaked and used to treat eye infections

– Makes a good fire-wood

– Believed to bare magical properties such as protecting the inhabitants of homesteads

– Used as a wind break or garden ornamental in frost prone areas

– Grows quickly from seed and cuttings and therefore makes a suitable bonsai

– Browsed by cattle, goats and eland

It goes to show that nature has more planned than often meets one’s eye, even with a plant that is as abundantly growing and seemingly plain as the way under-valued Ouhout.

Article and photographs by Damien CoulsonDamien1-100x100

Gnidia anthyloides (Brandbossie)

Gnidia anthylloides

 

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. The rangers recently photographed a plant species that many of you will recognise from within the Clarens Nature Reserve and it may occasionally be observed on farmlands. This plant has become of interest in scientific literature, for reasons you will discover below.

This week we introduce Gnidia anthylloides, commonly known as Brandbossie (a close relative of Gifbosssie for which it is often mistaken) in Afrikaans. Many of the species from the Gnidia genus have historically been used in traditional medicines to treat multiple ailments (headache, sores, nightmares, snake bites, tonsillitis, etc.). Unfortunately ingestion of parts of the plants of this genus without proper preparation may result in severe irritant effects as well as death in humans and animals due to several types of toxins (hence the common name). Scientists are now rediscovering some truth in the use of plants of the Gnidia genus as extracts have shown antileukemic properties and several of the compounds may also prove helpful in the synthesis of analogs for treating various ailments. It is not eaten by livestock (for the obvious reasons) and may therefore become a problematic plant in overgrazed veld.

G. anthylloides is a slender silvery silky shrub that grows to between 0.4 and 1.2 m in height. It is commonly observed on steep grassy, rocky or shrubby slopes amongst boulders or rocky sheets at altitudes up to 2425 m A.S.L.  The leaves are 15-30 mm long, and appear to be crowded into a star-like formation on the upper stem. The flowers are hoisted by a slender calyx tube and are an unmistakable bright yellow and are observed in clumped heads.

Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric, Vlieegifswam)

Amanita muscaria   

Plant of the week 3

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Although the days are still growing colder, the rangers have been hard at work and keeping their eyes peeled for any “Weekly Plants of Interest” that they may encounter on our trails or in the reserve.
This week we introduce Amanita muscaria commonly known as the Fly Agaric or Vlieëgifswam, in Afrikaans. Strictly speaking, the Fly Agaric is not a plant at all but it is classified as a form of fungus. This species is widespread throughout South Africa (the author has observed A. muscaria in the Garden Route of the Western Cape), and occurs in combination with certain plants in gardens and even plantations. The Fly Agaric “fruits” (think blooms) in summer up until late autumn/early winter. The cap is globose to flat, with small white “dots” and an overall orange to yellow colour. The stipe is white, firm and cylindrical.

Some of the uses of the Fly Agaric include:
– The fruit body was used traditionally as a natural fly trap (hence the common name)
– As one of the “magic mushrooms” it intoxicates the system inducing hallucinations.

Warning: This week’s PoI has poisoning symptoms that may be fatal in large doses and include nausea, vomiting, giddiness, hallucinations, convulsions and loss of consciousness.
Fungi occur in 2 major groups: macro and microfungi, the latter is only observable with the aid of microscopic lenses. The roles of fungi in nature are often overlooked but they nonetheless play a crucial role in most ecosystems. Some of their many functions include the decomposition of soil, dead wood and dung, controlling certain plant populations and some fungi may even be the cause of diseases in animal populations including humans.  Fungi have also had a profound influence on humans in the medical industry (think of penicillin), as culinary delights and have even been used in beverage production.

Selago galpinii (Tsitoanenyana)

Selago galpinii 2Greetings again to all our Village plant enthusiasts.

This week we introduce Selago galpinii, the Sesotho common name (this species has no English common names) is Tsitoanenyana.

It is a perennial herb that grows to between 150 and 300 mm in height. The leaves are small and semi-needle shaped, occurring in clusters. The inflorescence is slender with small rounded heads of approximately 10 mm in diameter. The flowers, although small are a blue – violet colour which contrasts pleasantly with the hues of the surrounding winter vegetation, making it especially visible during the cooler autumn/early winter period.

S. galpinii flowers between January & May but may be observed in bloom up until late June. This plant is named after Earnest Galpin (1858 – 1941), a South African naturalist renowned as a “prince of plant collectors”.
S. galpinii occurs in rocky grasslands at an altitude of 1500 – 2600 m A.S.L. It is a species with limited distribution as it is endemic (only occurring within/limited to) the Eastern Free State/Mountain Region. Don’t let it fool you – despite its meek appearance the plant is relatively hardy, surviving on shallow lithocutanic (rocky/coarse) soils.

No known medicinal uses have as yet been attributed to this small gem, but the flowers make for good sport for budding and keen photographers.

 

 

Damien1-100x100Article and photograph by Damien Coulson

Euphorbia clavaroides

 

Euphoria clavaroides 2 Euphorvia clavaroides 3 Euphorbia clavoides 1

Euphrobia clavaroides  (Lions spoor, Melkpol or Fingerpol) Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to the first of many “Weekly Plant of Interest” snippets.

This week we introduce for the first time Euphorbia clavaroides commonly known as Lions Spoor, Melkpol or Fingerpol – a cryptic succulent species that appears from a distance to resemble the smoothed sandstone rocks that is typical for the eastern Free-State area. This plant is only revealed from afar when it is in flower with many small yet spectacular bright yellow flowers. This plant although small, is important in the ecosystem and to humans due to its many uses. These include:

– A source of nourishment for local baboon  populations and other animals

– Dried sap has a historical use as an alternative to chewing gum by children

– Used in the preparation of bird lime

– Use in traditional medicines.

It is found only on steep rocky cliffs and rock faces at altitudes of up to 2750 m A.S.L. and has a widespread distribution, occurring from the Eastern Cape right through to the Limpopo Province.

The plant was observed for the first time last week by the rangers on the sandstone cliffs above the Scilla Walk hiking Trail in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.  The unusual growth form of the plant is in part due to its location on cliff faces and is a biological protection mechanism used to prevent excessive amounts of evaporation and protection from the wind and other elements.

Constellation of the Week – Scorpius

Clarens News Clarens skies Scorpio

Scorpius   is the southernmost constellation of the Zodiac and is thought to be older than the Greeks. It was the Sumerians who dubbed it GIR-TAB “ the scorpion”, over 5000 years ago.

About Scorpius

Scorpius was documented by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy during the 2nd Century, and is located near the center of the Milky Way.

Scorpius is a gem in the sky, as the red star Antares is located precisely where the imagined Scorpion’s heart should be, whilst the Scorpion’s Sting dips deep into the Milky Way, leading your eye to discover many more impressive starry treasures.

The Sting of the Scorpion was responsible for the death of the Mighty Hunter Orion, according to star lore, thus when the time came for both Orion and Scorpion to take their resting places in the heavens above, the gods thought it good to place the two archenemies in opposite ends of the sky. As result the two constellations can never be seen together in the night sky.

Did You Know

Scorpius used to be twice its current size. Scorpius was featured with two enormous claws in Greek mythology, but the Romans declawed Scorpius in 100BC, transforming the claws to become the scales of justice in the constellation now known as Libra.

How to find Scorpius

Scorpius is one of the brightest constellations in our skies and from the Southern Hemisphere, it sits majestically high in the sky. The constellation occupies a space of 497 square degrees, containing ten stars with known planets.

 

Scorpius replicates its namesake and all one has to do is to find the fish-hook-tail that extends into the Milky Way alongside the heart of the constellation (a bright red star) known as Antares.

Antares is Greek for “rival of Mars” and is a supergiant star deep red in colour. At a distance of 520 light-years away, and with a diameter 700 times larger than our Sun, Antares will be sure to guide you directly to the infamous Scorpius constellation.

Other Interesting Facts about Scorpius

larens News Clarens skies ScorpioIn Tarot Cards the Scorpian is thought to be a representation of the Death Card.

Pablo Picasso, Bill Gates and Martin Luther were all born under the sign of Scorpio.

Imagination, passion and self-confidence are all traits of the constellation.

 

 

Clarens Night Sky : A beginners guide to watching stars

Clarens is renowned for its fresh mountain air and as a result our starry skies are absolutely impeccable. Why not follow and learn from them then?

A Beginners Guide to watching the stars

The sky is filled with mysterious and fascinating things. We can observe the wonders of the sky with the aid of telescopes or by the unaided eye – did you know that you can see a galaxy 2 ½ million light-years away with your unaided eye? All these wonderful marvels can be observed and enjoyed, all one has to do is look up and ask, “What’s that?”, and a lifetime of cosmic exploration will unfold.

When starting to follow the movements of the stars, or trying to spot constellations in the sky, there are a couple of valuable tips one needs to follow.

 – Use a Star Chart

Star charts are a bit like road maps that help us find our way, instead constellations, stars and planets act as our road signs. Although star charts may be a bit daunting to use at first, it later becomes one of the easiest ways to learn the starry skies.The most important thing to remember is to use the correct star chart according to the month, time of year and season. Sky maps are easily available online and Starmaps provide some of the most accurate maps available.Determine what direction you are facing and point the star map accordingly. If you are facing south the southern hemisphere of the map should show as well. The compass on the map may look like it’s the wrong way round, but the trick is to hold the map over your head and look up, as the map is that of the skies the compass will now be correct.

 – Get a Twinkle in your eye

Familiarize yourself with the patterns in the sky on any clear, dark night. Constellation maps are easily available online and we at Clarens News will post one constellation per week to ensure that none will be disappointed.The ability to look up and name a constellation provides pleasure and a sense of one’s place in the cosmos that will last a lifetime.

 – Start with Binoculars

There are multiple reasons for using binoculars as a first telescope. Not only do they give a wide field of view, ensuring that one doesn’t get lost, but they also show the sky the right side up making it easy to see where you are pointing. Binoculars are fairly inexpensive, versatile and their performance remarkably respectable. Larger front lenses are ideal for astronomy and high optical quality is of importance too, but any binocular will be sure to launch your amateur-astronomy career.

 – Use guides and maps

Binoculars can keep one busy for years and with the use of maps and guides one can identify many miracles in the sky. When you know where and what to look for, you will be able to observe galaxies, star clusters and nebulae, track the movement of Jupiter’s moons and the crescent phases of Venus, and even follow the fading and brightening of many variable stars.

  – Seek out other amateurs

Stargazing is a wonderful interest to share with others and as long as you remember to have fun, you’ll soon know your way around the sparkles in our magnificent sky.

Getting started

–       What are constellations?

A constellation is a group of stars that together form an imaginary picture in the sky. Constellations are usually named after mythological creatures, characters, animals and objects, and finding them is like a game of connecting the dots.

–       Important words to know

Sky Measures

Beginners often have trouble describing distances in the sky; the problem is that these distances can’t be described in linear measures such as meters or kilometers, thus angular measure as result.

Astronomers might say the two stars are 10 degrees (10°) apart. That means if lines were drawn from your eye to each star, the two lines would form a 10° angle at your eye. Simple!

Hold your fist at arm’s length and sight past it with one eye. Your fist from side to side covers about 10° of sky. A fingertip at arm’s length covers about 1° and the Sun and Moon are each 12cm wide.

There are finer divisions of angular measure. A degree is made up of 60 arcminutes, and each arcminute is made up of 60 arcseconds.

Sky Coordinates

If the earth beneath us had to vanish, we would be suspended in the middle of a star-speckled sphere. The positions of the stars are designated by where they are on this celestial sphere.  Imagine the earth hanging in the middle of this sphere, and the longitude and latitude lines ballooning outward into the edges of the sphere. These lines now form a coordinate grid on the sky that can tell us the position of a star. In the sky latitude is referred to as “declination” and longitude is called “right ascension” and these terms are the standard celestial coordinates.

Brightness

The word magnitude refers to the brightness of a star and this term will be encountered many times.  Stars are divided into brightness classes starting from 0 and under as “1st magnitude”, and continuing upward as the stars gets dimmer. Vega is zero (0) magnitude, and Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is magnitude –1.4. Venus is even brighter, usually magnitude –4, the beautiful full Moon shines at magnitude –13, and our warm, nourishing Sun at a magnitude of  –27.

Distances

The Earth orbits the Sun once a year at a distance from the Sun averaging 150 million kilometers. That distance is called one astronomical unit (a.u.). It’s a handy unit for measuring things in the solar system.

The distance that light travels in a year — 9.5 trillion km, or 5.9 trillion miles, or 63,000 a.u. — is called a light-year. Note that the light-year is a measure of distance, not time.

Most of the brightest stars in the sky lie a few dozen to a couple thousand light-years away. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is only 4.3 light-years away. The Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest large galaxy beyond our own Milky Way, is 2.5 million light-years distant.

Professional astronomers often use another unit for big distances: the parsec. One parsec equals 3.26 light-years. (In case you’re really wondering, a parsec is the distance where a star shows a parallax of one arcsecond against the background sky when the Earth moves 1 a.u. around the Sun.)

A kiloparsec is 1,000 parsecs, and a megaparsec is a million parsecs

Watch out for regular articles in Clarens News about the constellations visible from Clarens.

 

Genevieve

Article written and researched by

Genevieve Blignaut

Clarens News:  November 2013

Waiting for ISON

 

ISON 1

Photographs: PlanetSave

Discovered on 21 September 2012 by two Russian astronomers, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, many still wait in eager anticipation for the arrival of the much-discussed Comet ISON, as amateur and professional sky watchers hope that the comet’s increase in brightness will sustain, until ISON reaches it perihelion in little less than a week from now on November 28 2013.

There are concerns that the rapid brightening of the comet may very well be due to fracturing of the core. Media sources originally predicted that the comet might be as bright as the full Moon, but ISON is now expected to only reach a magnitude of -3 or -5, about the same brightness as Venus.

 

ISON 2

Comet ISON will be visible in the Eastern Sky before sunrise, and will easily be seen through any pair of binoculars.

Below charts are given of predictions of Comet ISON’s location over the next few days.

ISON 3

ISON 6

November 23

ISON will be very low and quite hard to see, but use Mercury and Saturn as your guides before dawn, and you’ll be sure to see the tail of the comet shining bright.The Moon will be clearly visible parallel to the comet.

November 24

From now onwards ISON will start its swoop around the sun, and therefore will not be visible for a couple of days.

The tail of the comet might be so bright that it will produce a spectacular tail, with planets adorning it.

November 25

The tail of the comet might be so bright that it will produce a spectacular tail, with planets adorning it.

ISON 8

On November 28 2013 all might be in for a magnificent show in the skies, due to Comet ISON circling the sun – if it remains intact and all goes as predicted. Let’s hold thumbs, as this will truly be an unforgettable sight.

The comet will be rising with its tail parallel to the sun and therefore probably won’t have a tail to see, but once the sun has cleared the possibility of ISON shining as a bright spark next to the Sun, still remains…

In order to see the comet at this time, one needs to cover the sun completely by hand (always taking care not to hurt your eyes), whilst exposing the part of the sky with the comet fully.

And if we’re lucky we might see something like this:

ISON 5

November 30

By now ISON will hopefully have rounded the sun intact and should be visible to the opposite side of Mercury and Saturn. Only then will we know whether or not the comet will have a bright shining tail.

Happy Comet Spotting!

Must see Astronomical Events of December 2013

ISON 9

  • Venus will be remarkable to watch during December, as it will be the shiniest it will be for all of 2013 and 2014. A crescent Moon phase will accompany the beautiful star on December 5th and the following night Venus will reach its pinnacle of brilliance, the likes of which will not be experienced until 2021.
  • A Geminid Meteor shower will take place on 13 & 14 December 2013, exciting Astronomer’s due to its proposed brightness and reliability. Unfortunately the Moon’s light will obscure much of the smaller meteorites, but once the Moon has set, as many as two meteors per minute, or a whopping 120 per hour might be seen!

Genevieve

Article and research by Genevieve Blignaut

 

Clarens Night Skies: Ophiuchus – The Snakeholder

Snakeholder

The Ophiuchus Constellation, also known as “The Snakeholder”, lies on the celestial equator and is depicted as a man holding an enormous snake with both hands. The snake is represented by the adjacent constellation Serpes, with Ophiuchus splitting the Serpes constellation into two parts.

About Ophiuchus

Often times referred to in its Latin name “Serpentarius”, the constellation is associated with Aesclupaius, the famous healer in Greek mythology.

Clarens Night Sky The Snakeholder

“The Serpent” represented by the Serpes constellation, is divided into two separate parts by Ophiuchus. Serpens Caput forms the head of the snake whilst Serpens Cauda forms the tail. The snake is usually depicted coiling around the Ophiuchus man.

The Serpent Holder, Ophiuchus, is associated with the noted Greek healer Aescupalius.

In Greek legend, Coronis bed with the god Apollo and eventually fell pregnant. However, her love for a mere mortal, Ischys, could not be ignored.  A white crow was instructed by Apollo to keep watch over Coronis, and upon the news of her infidelity, Apollo commanded the crow to pick out they eyes of Ischys after which the crow was turned black. Appollo’s huntress sister Artemis was so appaled by Coronis’s actions, that she shot Cornonis with a quiverful arrows.

Appollo managed to save his unborn son Aesculapius after which he took him to the centaur Chorin. Known for his kindness and extreme wisdom, Chorin taught Aesculapius the art of medicine and healing. The young man mastered the art so completely that Hades, king of the underworld felt threatened. Hades thought that Aesculapius might grow to raise the dead, and therefore appealed the death of Aesculapius to Zeus. The great god Zeus regrettably agreed to the death of the young master healer, and so Aesculapius was struck down by lightning and given an honourable place in the skies. To this day, Aesculapius and the serpent are associated with healing, and all physicians take the Hippocratic oath (Hippocrates supposedly being a descendant of Aesculapius).

Did You Know

Ophiuchus is actually the 13th Zodiac sign.

It is not included in the Zodiac, as we know it, due to the fact that astronomer’s previousy thought that the Sun proceeds directly from Scorpius into Saggitarius. This is not the fact however. It was found that the Sun moves over the Ophiuchus constellation from Scorpius for 19 days, before it crosses into the region of Saggitarius. Thus, the sign of OPhiuchus is patterned after the original ‘Serpent holder’, Enki, a sumarian god.

The Zodiac sign of Ophiuchus is the only sign depicting a real man.

How to find Ophiuchus

It is located in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ3) and can be seen at latitudes between +80° and -80°.

The neighboring constellations are  Aquila, Hercules, Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpius and Serpens.

Ophiuchus also has seven stars with known planets.

The brightest star in the constellation is Rasalhague, Alpha Ophiuchi, with an apparent visual magnitude of 2.08.

There are four meteor showers associated with the constellation: the Ophiuchids, the Northern May Ophiuchids, the Southern May Ophiuchids and the Theta Ophiuchids.

Ophiuchus belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, along with Aquila, Ara, Centaurus, Corona Australis, Corvus, Crater, Crux, Cygnus, Hercules, Hydra, Lupus, Lyra, Sagitta,

 

Clarens Night Sky The Snakeholder

Scutum, Sextans, Serpens, Triangulum Australe and Vulpecula.

 

Genevieve Blignaut

Article and research by

Genevieve Blignaut

Clarens News: 2014

Update on ISON

Ison update 1

Gerald Rhemann in Namibia in SW Africa captured this photo of Comet ISON on November 21, 2013

 

 

Comet ISON is still holding its own after many speculations that it might’ve broken apart by now.

The video in the link below shows the comet as it passes Mars and Earth, heading for the immense heat and incredible beauty of the Sun.

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/11085768164/

Thursday November 28 2013 marks the perihelion of the comet that has captured and held the gaze of so many. At 20:24:57 SA time, Comet ISON will be at its closest point to the Sun at 1.1 Million Kilometers away, and if it stays in tact, will then start its journey past our beloved Earth.

Ison update 2

The Planetary Society

 

Never before have we humans had the opportunity to witness a comet the size of ISON. Never before has a comet passed us from that  distance, and never before has a comet come so close to our Sun. Thus we simply don’t know exactly how the comet will behave at its perihelion, nor if it will stay in tact.

The Planetary Society

The Planetary Society

The sungrazing comet (passing the sun at a distance of only a few thousand kilometers), has travelled one light year from its origin in the Oort Cloud (a giant shell of icy bodies), marking it as a phenomena that no-one has ever seen before!

If all goes well Comet ISON will be visible in the skies from early December, reaching its closest point to the Earth on December 26. We in South Africa will unfortunately only be able to spot it before dawn, whereas those in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to see it shining bright and proud for most of the night or day.

ison update 4

 

*Many are worried about the extreme silence from NASA concerning comet ISON: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii4e_NrT-zA

ISON COMES TO AN END

The comet of the century has brought about mixed feelings in many that have religiously followed its path – there are those who would’ve loved the comet to produce a spectacular show in our skies during December, and those who have always predicted its imminent death upon perihelion.

According to NASA the comet that has captured and held the gaze of millions is now declared dead with only a tail of dust left behind.

The fading dust debris cloud will not be visible with the naked eye and so many have said farewell to ISON. Although there were those that predicted the tail would hit Earth from mid-December until mid-January, NASA states that the cloud of dust debris will stay on its predicted course at 63 million kilometers away from us – ensuring our safety.

The comet of the century has brought about mixed feelings in many that have religiously followed its path – there are those who would’ve loved the comet to produce a spectacular show in our skies during December, and those who have always predicted its imminent death upon perihelion.

According to NASA the comet that has captured and held the gaze of millions is now declared dead with only a tail of dust left behind.

The fading dust debris cloud will not be visible with the naked eye and so many have said farewell to ISON. Although there were those that predicted the tail would hit Earth from mid-December until mid-January, NASA states that the cloud of dust debris will stay on its predicted course at 63 million kilometers away from us – ensuring our safety.

 

ISON Dec

 

 

Taurus

 

Taurus

One of the oldest known constellations Taurus, also known as “The Bull”, houses many fascinating objects nestled in the darkness of our skies. The constellation dates back to that of the Bronze Age and Babylonian Astronomers commonly referred to it as “The Heavenly Bull”.

 

About Taurus

The Bull, embodied both Osiris and his sister Isis in the eyes of the Egyptians. The brother and sister were respectively represented as bull-god and cow-goddess.

Acctaurus 2ording to Greek myth, the passionate god Zeus was thought to have disguised himself as a bull in yet another of his love affairs.The exquisite Europa, daughter of King Agenor, was strolling along the sea shore with her companions at her side, when Zeus noticed her and instantly became completely infatuated. The clever god immediately disguised himself as a magnificent white bull and upon appearing amongst the group, none felt fear as his calm demeanour radiated brilliantly. Europa and her companions made fine-looking flower garlands to hang around the animals neck, and such were they trust in his composure that Europa climbed onto the animal’s back. To their shock the bull hurried to the sea and feverishly swam away with the poor Europa terrified beyond belief. Upon their arrival in Crete, Zeus revealed his true identity to the girl. Here he ravished the woman who was to bear him three sons, the oldest of which was meant to bring the bull cult to Crete.

Did you Know? 

taurus 3

Although Taurus is visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, it will appear to be upside down in the Southernparts during spring and summer.

Cave paintings suggest that “The Bull” has been depicted by man for over 10 000 years.

The brightest star in the constellation, called Aldebaran, shines 500 times brighter than the Sun!

The constellation is probably best known for the Pleiades (Messier 45), also known as the Seven Sisters, and the Hyades, which are the two nearest open star clusters to Earth.

 

How to find Taurus

Taurus 4In the Southern hemisphere, Taurus rises in the north-east and sets in the north-west, in December and January the constellation will first appear low on the horizon in the north east and continue westwards, before dipping below the horizon. From February to March it will appear in a more northerly or northwesterly direction.

In addition to the Pleaides star cluster, neighbouring constellations can also help to easily find the bull of the heavens. These constellations include Aries, Cetus, Eridanus, Gemini, Perseus and Orion.

Gilgamesh from Mesopotamia is sometimes associated with the nearby Orion, another ancient constellation, and the two constellations are depicted as Gilgamesh and the bull in combat.

Next week we will take a closer look at the seven sisters of the bull, the infamous Pleaides/M45.

 

 

 

Genevieve Article and research by Genevieve Blignaut

 

Clarens Night Sky: Pleaides

Many have been hypnotized by the lure and beauty of the Pleaides, a constellation that have inspired writers, artists, kings and noblemen alike.

Pleiades 2

About the Pleiades

The seven mountain nymph daughters of the Titan Atlas, were under the guidance and leadership of their sister Maia. Hermes was to be born to Maia and Zeus and a life with the gods inspired the other sisters so, that five of them continued to enjoy the affection of the gods. These five sisters would become the ancestresses of various royal families such as that of Troy and Sparta. Unfortunately the lustful Orion could not contain his fascination with the sisters, and therefore Zeus thought it best to finally give the nymph daughters a rightful place in the skies. The seven-starred constellation is known as the Pleaides meaning “plenty”.

Only six of the seven sisters are visible. Many account this to the fact that Elektra left the circle of dance and her beloved sisters, due to the fall of Zeus and Troy, choosing to mourn forever more in the Arctic circle. Others agree that Merope, the sister that married a mortal, feels ashamed by her choice of a mortal lover and so hides her shame and face in dimness.

Did you Know?   

Modern day Halloween finds its roots in the Pleiades? This old Druid rite is thought to have coincided with the midnight culmination of the Pleaides. At this culmination, the veil between the living and the dead is still believed to be at its thinnest.

Many of the stars in the Pleiades shine much brighter than our Sun.

The famous sisters are thought to have come into existence by the same dust cloud some 100 million years ago.

The Zuni of Mexico call the Pleaides the “Seed Stars”, as the disappearance of the constellation in the evening skies during Spring signals the time for planting.

How to find the Pleiades

If one can see the famous constellation Orion in the night sky, you’ll easily find the seven sisters, Pleaides. Draw a line straight through Orion’s belt to the right, until you find a V-shaped pattern of stars with a very bright star in its midst. You have just found the head of Taurus the Bull. The very bright star is Aldebaran, depicting the eye of the bull. The Pleiades cluster lies not to far from the Aldebaran, as these stars represent the shoulder of the bull.

Virtually visible to every person on Earth, the Pleiades have inspired many over the years, acting as the seeds to poems, songs, rituals, folklore and mystical writings, and this icy cluster is sure to continue to mesmerize and inspire the hearts and souls of many many more.

 

 

Pleiades 3

Article written and researched by Genevieve Blignaut.

 

 

Genevieve

 

3rd January, 2014

Well, a little passé perhaps, but Happy New Year to all our faithful readers!
Assuming you survived the fireworks of course.  We are used to Kgubetswana lighting up, come midnight on Old Year’s Night, but having the Clarens Square turned into the Edinburgh Festival with 86-decibel sound effects was a new experience.  Great fun, notwithstanding the bangs, and may introduce a new tradition to the village calendar.   The village dogs may not of course agree; ours had a shared bowel collapse and hid behind the loo all night.  Perhaps the compromise is limiting the level of noise and controlling the time of the event, this 2014 New Year.  The good news is that we aren’t living in the maelstrom of Durban, which rivals the First World War for explosive sound and light – although the acrid stench of mustard gas is replaced by the curry aromas of mince samoosas and bunny chows!The curious thing about Clarens though is its failure to do anything about Christmas.  Nary a light on the square, or for that matter in most shops and restaurants.  Your faithful scribe is not, for the record, a Christmas tree hugger or much into Carol singing, but the sight of our square without a car in sight on Christmas Day, no festive trappings and almost no shops open really begs credulity.  If we aspire to being a holiday destination, we have to review our approach and remember that our clients and customers expect us tobehave like a tourist attraction.  I have a creepy feeling that many (most?) retailers and restaurateurs will contest this view, but perhaps a debate on the subject is long overdue.  After all, who do we blame if our Clarens Christmas season slowly fades and dies?  Our annual rate of retail and accommodation growth is probably four- or five-times higher than that for the rest of the country, but we need to wake-up to the fact that this can turn on its head if our visitors go cold on us.  About as cold as we were over Christmas, actually.
But enough banter: 2014 has started in grand style with idyllic weather.  Post-Christmas tourists are gambolling happily along the trails, packing out the Brewery and spending with gay abandon.  I even saw two farmers smiling, so the rain must be good.  But perhaps best of all, we haven’t had a newspaper to speak of for over a week, so the mood of the town has skyrocketed: No Zuma, no Nkandla, no E-tolls, no politics.  If that’s not a seasonal gift from the Gods, I don’t know what is.  Next week, birds, birds, birds.  Until then, blessings for the New Year.

3rd January 2014: Welcome to a New Year

 

Mary photo

Table of Contents:

  • Self drive routes – An Introduction;
  • Clarens Skies –  Pleaides;
  • New Year’s Resolutions;
  • Plant of the week:  Kniphofia ritualis;
  • The Twitcher;
  • This weekend – Music;
  • This weekend – Weather;
  • This weekend – Other Events;

 


 

Self drive routes from Clarens – An Introduction

Mary WalkerSituated just east of the central regions of South Africa, Clarens is well placed as a stopover on many of our long distance travel routes.  A mere two and half hours  from Joburg, Bloemfonten and the the Natal midlands, Clarens is has become a weekend destination of choice.  With many of the overseas tour operators passing through the area now, Clarens is also becoming one of South Africa’s hot destinations in the overseas market.  Overseas tourists on self drive tours around our country are increasingly seeking a night or two in the area and, with southern Africa’s Mountain Kingdom, Lesotho, right on our doorstep, the scope to drive, explore and experience what’s on offer in the area is almost without limit.
Clarens News is developing a website portfolio of Self Drive Routes in the area.  A new route will be introduced each week, with a small map of the route, a photo and information about the route, featuring any interesting bits and pieces about history, natural features, culture, interesting characters, guest facilities or activities on offer, and so on.
The Eastern Free State Highlands, quite apart from its spectacular natural beauty, has a host of interesting features.  The sandstone buildings are one of its hallmarks, and a number of historically significant sandstone structures dot our towns and landscapes, and are well worth visiting.  Our mountain ranges, and there are three of them forming a virtual triangle of the whole area, shelter fascinating valleys and afford views that rate amongst the most photographed scenery in the central parts of the country.  While the area has a fair rainfall in the summer months, and occasional snow in the winter months, for the most part you will be able to take advantage of big blue skies and dry weather, making this an ideal area for outdoor pursuits, for both adrenalin junkies and the more laid back.
When driving around the routes of the Eastern Free State Highlands it is important that one remembers to take the normal safety precautions relevant to our country.  While the area is reputedly friendly and safe with few incidents reported, local and current advice is invaluable and shouldn’t be dismissed.  Of course, being largely a rural and mountainous area, cell phone signals are sometimes unreliable.  Travellers venturing around our countryside should ensure that there is someone who is aware of the route planned and the intended time frame of the outing.
So we invite you, over the next few months of this new year, to check out our Self Drive Routes Portfolio on the website, and to pick up a route that interests you, take yourself out on a little excursion, and discover the things that you might have missed before, or discover places completely new to you.
Look out for the first Self Drive Route due to be published in next week’s issue of Clarens News.  And have a great 2014!


 

Clarens Skies –  Pleaides

Pleiades 1

Genevieve
Genevieve Blignaut

Many have been hypnotized by the lure and beauty of the Pleaides, a constellation that have inspired writers, artists, kings and noblemen alike.

About the Pleiades
The seven mountain nymph daughters of the Titan Atlas, were under the guidance and leadership of their sister Maia. Hermes was to be born to
Maia and Zeus and a life with the gods inspired the other sisters so, that five of them continued to enjoy the affection of the gods. These five sisters would become the ancestresses of various royal families such as that of Troy and Sparta. Unfortunately the lustful Orion could not contain his fascination with the sisters, and therefore Zeus thought it best to finally give the nymph daughters a rightful place in the skies. The seven-starred constellation is known as the Pleaides meaning “plenty”.

Only six of the seven sisters are visible. Many account this to the fact that Elektra left the circle of dance and her beloved sisters, due to the fall of Zeus and Troy, choosing to mourn forever more in the Arctic circle. Others agree that Merope, the sister that married a mortal, feels ashamed by her choice of a mortal lover and so hides her shame and face in dimness.  Read more


New Year’s Resolutions

Group 2 Rangers uniforms

We live in a fabulous town, in fabulous surroundings with fabulous people.  Let’s keep this town and its surroundings the safe, clean and beautiful destination that we have all come to love, by supporting The Clarens Village Conservancy, the Clarens Fire Association, Fire and the Ratepayers Association.  (Only one subscription for all three) and the Clarens Sector Policing Forum.
Click here for your membership form for the Clarens Village Conservancy.    
Click here to sign up and support The Clarens Sector Policing Forum


Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Plant of the week:  Kniphofia ritualis

 

Damien Coulson
Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a striking monocotyledonous plant of the Asphodelaceae(Red-hot poker) family that is just now coming into flower.
Kniphofia ritualis (leloele-la-Lesotho in Sesotho), a hardy perennial, ranges from around 0.8-1 m tall. The name Kniphofia is derived from the Surname of a Professor of medicine JH Kniphof. Ritualis refers to the fact that the plant is used by Sesotho girls in Lesotho during traditional initiation rituals.
K. ritualis is generally solitary, occurring on wet grassy slopes or in loose damp soil at altitudes of between 1800-3000 m A.S.L., and is endemic to the Eastern Mountain Region from the Free State to KZN.
The leaves of K. ritualis are 400-900 mm long by 12-24 mm wide, soft, v-shaped and the margins are finely toothed. Running ones finger against the grain may result in a papercut that although superficial is painful nonetheless. The inflorescence range from 90-140 mm in length by 40-50 mm wide. The buds are a bright orange and the flowers a bleached yellow – 25-35 mm long. This striking plant flowers from  late December through to March.   Read more

 


 

The Twitcher

Well, a little passé perhaps, but Happy New Year to all our faithful readers!
Assuming you survived the fireworks of course.  We are used to Kgubetswana lighting up, come midnight on Old Year’s Night, but having the Clarens Square turned into the Edinburgh Festival with 86-decibel sound effects was a new experience.  Great fun, notwithstanding the bangs, and may introduce a new tradition to the village calendar.   The village dogs may not of course agree; ours had a shared bowel collapse and hid behind the loo all night.  Perhaps the compromise is limiting the level of noise and controlling the time of the event, this 2014 New Year.  The good news is that we aren’t living in the maelstrom of Durban, which rivals the First World War for explosive sound and light – although the acrid stench of mustard gas is replaced by the curry aromas of mince samoosas and bunny chows!The curious thing about Clarens though is its failure to do anything about Christmas.  Nary a light on the square, or for that matter in most shops and restaurants.  Your faithful scribe is not, for the record, a Christmas tree hugger or much into Carol singing, but the sight of our square without a car in sight on Christmas Day, no festive trappings and almost no shops open really begs credulity.  If we aspire to being a holiday destination, we have to review our approach and remember that our clients and customers expect us tobehave like a tourist attraction.  I have a creepy feeling that many (most?) retailers and restaurateurs will contest this view, but perhaps a debate on the subject is long overdue.  After all, who do we blame if our Clarens Christmas season slowly fades and dies?  Our annual rate of retail and accommodation growth is probably four- or five-times higher than that for the rest of the country, but we need to wake-up to the fact that this can turn on its head if our visitors go cold on us.  About as cold as we were over Christmas, actually.
But enough banter: 2014 has started in grand style with idyllic weather.  Post-Christmas tourists are gambolling happily along the trails, packing out the Brewery and spending with gay abandon.  I even saw two farmers smiling, so the rain must be good.  But perhaps best of all, we haven’t had a newspaper to speak of for over a week, so the mood of the town has skyrocketed: No Zuma, no Nkandla, no E-tolls, no politics.  If that’s not a seasonal gift from the Gods, I don’t know what is.  Next week, birds, birds, birds.  Until then, blessings for the New Year.


This weekend – Weather


 

This weekend – Music

Saturday: 4th January 2014
Friends: 20h30:  Slipstream
The Grouse and Claret:  20h00:  Fumadores (Denzl & Hensie)


 

This weekend – Other Events

Farmers Market: Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This is the place to buy fresh local produce, home baked goodies, and lots lots more.

Wolfgang is having a garage sale on  4th January 10h00 at 733 Van Zyl Street (next to Clementines). Items include TVs, Fridge freezer, tables and desks, tools, electric motors, wood working machinery, camping gear, old rifles, camping gear and much much more. Phone Wolfgang 083 6000 746  Visit Classifieds on the Clarens News website. ClassifiedsDo you have a house you want to rent out?  Need a job? Want to buy a generator?  Remember to check out the classifeds section.  Advertising on the classifieds section of Clarens News is free.  All you need to do is to email  your advert toeditor@clarensnews.com

 


 

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3rd January 2014

Well, a little passé perhaps, but Happy New Year to all our faithful readers!

Assuming you survived the fireworks of course.  We are used to Kgubetswana lighting up, come midnight on Old Year’s Night, but having the Clarens Square turned into the Edinburgh Festival with 86-decibel sound effects was a new experience.  Great fun, notwithstanding the bangs, and may introduce a new tradition to the village calendar.   The village dogs may not of course agree; ours had a shared bowel collapse and hid behind the loo all night.  Perhaps the compromise is limiting the level of noise and controlling the time of the event, this 2014 New Year.  The good news is that we aren’t living in the maelstrom of Durban, which rivals the First World War for explosive sound and light – although the acrid stench of mustard gas is replaced by the curry aromas of mince samoosas and bunny chows!

The curious thing about Clarens though is its failure to do anything about Christmas.  Nary a light on the square, or for that matter in most shops and restaurants.  Your faithful scribe is not, for the record, a Christmas tree hugger or much into Carol singing, but the sight of our square without a car in sight on Christmas Day, no festive trappings and almost no shops open really begs credulity.  If we aspire to being a holiday destination, we have to review our approach and remember that our clients and customers expect us to behave like a tourist attraction.  I have a creepy feeling that many (most?) retailers and restaurateurs will contest this view, but perhaps a debate on the subject is long overdue.  After all, who do we blame if our Clarens Christmas season slowly fades and dies?  Our annual rate of retail and accommodation growth is probably four- or five-times higher than that for the rest of the country, but we need to wake-up to the fact that this can turn on its head if our visitors go cold on us.  About as cold as we were over Christmas, actually.

But enough banter: 2014 has started in grand style with idyllic weather.  Post-Christmas tourists are gambolling happily along the trails, packing out the Brewery and spending with gay abandon.  I even saw two farmers smiling, so the rain must be good.  But perhaps best of all, we haven’t had a newspaper to speak of for over a week, so the mood of the town has skyrocketed: No Zuma, no Nkandla, no E-tolls, no politics.  If that’s not a seasonal gift from the Gods, I don’t know what is.  Next week, birds, birds, birds.  Until then, blessings for the New Year.

The Twitcher