Tag Archives: Clarens Village Nature Reerve

Opuntia ficus-indica

Opunta ficus-indica
Opunta ficus-indica Opunta ficus-indica

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts.  This week we’ll be looking at an alien member of the Cactaceae (Cactus family): Opuntia ficus-indica.

Opuntia ficus-indica (Sweet Prickly-pear in English, Truksvye in Afrikaans, Terofeiye in Sesotho) is an invasive weed (Category 1) that obtains a height of around 5m as a shrub and occurs throughout much of South Africa. It was originally introduced from Mexico to act as natural hedges in biological cattle kraals. The fruit of which is also a tasty treat – especially when eaten cold – beware those fine hairs though which itch like mad when they get into your skin.

The flower pictured here was photographed opposite the old Post Office. As a Category 1 weed its control, removal or destruction if possible is mandatory. No trade or planting of prickly pear is allowed, with the exception of the fruit if used for non-commercial human consumption.

The leaves are large; succulent; broadly obovate and flat, the stems woody. The stems are sub-divided into flattened, narrow, elliptical segments that are green but covered with a waxy layer. Small bristles protrude from the leaves in clusters. The fruit are roughly egg shaped, and like the leaves – are covered in clusters of fine bristles. Flowers are yellow-orange and measure around 50mm across. Flowering October – December. Uses:

Commercial products

Extracts of O. ficus-indica have been used in jellies, candies, teas, and alcoholic drinks.


This invasive has been used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, inflammation, ulcers and the treatment of first degree burns.


Invasive weed. Removal is mandatory if at all possible. The fruit is a favourite of birds, mammals and humans. Pollinated by bees and butterflies.

Conservation Status

Naturalised invasives are not defined under the SANBI National Red List categories.

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

Click here for more information on the Clarens Village Nature Reserve


Damien1-100x100Article and photography by Damien Coulson

Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve



Kniphofia thodei Baker



Kniphofia thodei Baker Kniphofia thodei Baker

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. This week we’re focusing on a member of the Asphodelaceae (Red-hot Poker) family.

Kniphofia thodei Baker (Thode’s Poker in English and Leloele in Sesotho) is perennial monocotyledonous herb growing to a towering height of just 500mm. Unlike many other species of the Red-hot Poker genus, this little guy enjoys a bachelor’s solitary existence including freedom from group tyranny and peer-pressure. One will need to prepare a backpack to find our hero as he prefers “hanging-out” on moist high-altitude grassveld mountain slopes at up to 2750 m A.S.L. He is also an endemic to the Eastern Mountain Region (EMR), making him even more interesting…and don’t all bachelor’s lead interesting lifestyles?

Photographed on the steep slopes near Titanic Rock and our Sky-Contour Trail, this individual was no easy find (as is any decent bachelor) and may at first glance be misidentified for several of the more prominent of the Red-hot Poker genus in the area.

The leaves are narrow, recurved, around 5 mm wide by 300-400mm long, blue-green, soft to the touch, with slightly coarse or toothed margins. The inflorescence consists of a single dense spike of tubular and hanging measuring approx. 70X40mm, grading from orange apically, to yellow-white below. Flowers measure a mere 20-30mm in length. Flowering occurs from spring-early summer (November to March). Uses:


This solitary Poker would make for a highly attractive garden ornamental, especially in areas of partial shade with moist, well drained soils. Red-hot Pokers hybridise readily with wild specimens, making Id in gardens particularly difficult.

Conservation Status

The SANBI conservation status for K. thodei is listed as of Least Concern.


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

Click here for more information on the Clarens Village Nature Reserve


Damien1-100x100Article and photography by Damien Coulson

Head ranger: Clarens Village Nature Reserve


Sebaea leiostyla

Clarens Village Nature Reserve:  Sebaea leiostyla
Sebaea leiostyla (Photo: Damien Coulson)

This is the first Plant of Interest picture  taken using the new Powershot SX520.

Sebaea leiostyla is an annual herb whose stems grow to 100mm tall. One will find this herbaceous species in moist grassland areas often in close proximity to cover shrubs and streams at altitudes of 2600 m A.S.L., occurring from the Eastern Cape right through to Mpum.

To spot this little herb one must be prepared to follow one’s curiosity and really get in close to the subject. A camera with a good macro function is useful and could help aid in the identification. The word leio is Latin for smooth, styla Latin for style, in reference to the bare style on which the flowers are born.

The oval leaves of S. leiostyla measure approx. 10-15mm by 6-8mm wide, are scattered and oppositely arranged and appear dark green and somewhat waxy or glossy. The inflorescence is dense and held aloft by simple or branched and mostly bare stems. The flowers are small (5-15mm diam) with a corolla tube that’s usually longer than the petals. The flowers comprise 5 light-mustard yellow petals, partially enclosed by yellow-green sepals. Flowering occurs from Oct-Jan. Uses:


Small they are, but they make a brilliant pot plant or alternatively planted against a wall they make great ornamentals.


Many spp. of the Genus Sedoides have medicinal properties. S. leiodstyla is used by the Sesotho as a snake-bite remedy

Conservation Status

The SANBI conservation status for S. leiostyla is listed as Least Concern.

Damien1-100x100Article and photography by Damien Coulson

Head ranger:  Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Click here For more information on the Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.

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.

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).