Tag Archives: Free State

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



Pycnoporus sanguineus

Pycnoporus sanguineus
Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. This week we’ll be looking at something a little different, a unique species of Bracket.
Pycnoporus sanguineus is not your typical plant – in fact, this bracket mushroom actually belongs to an entirely different kingdom – one that many either love or hate and is neither plant nor animal, but lies somewhere in between (scientists observe that mushrooms are more closely related to insects than plants – freaky right?)  Yes, for those of you “in-the-know”, P. sanguineus is in fact part of the Fungi kingdom.
Many refer to fungi in a very general sense as mushrooms.  But what exactly are mushrooms then, how do we differentiate between different forms of mushroom, and to top it all, is it even correct to refer to all fungi as mushrooms? Well no, and yes – confused?  While it isn’t generally incorrect to refer to fungi as mushrooms, the term is more applicable to fungi whose growth-form (physiognomy) consists of a distinct stem (stipe) with a cap (pileus) and gills (lamellae) under the cap. A good example of this are the various species of edible capped mushrooms (usually agarics) found in your local Pick ‘n Pay or Checkers. Fungi are heterotrophs (obtain food from other organisms – not unlike animals) yet have cells with cell walls (as do plants) consisting of chiton (the exoskeletons of insects) and may be classed in 1 of 2 groups – macrofungi or microfungi (microscopic i.e. invisible to the naked eye). Macrofungi differ greatly in morphology, size, colour and edibility and these characteristics are the basis of differentiating between various forms; although it is always best to consult a reputable field or pocket guide before deciding whether or not a mushroom should be handled or consumed.
Pictured above is the bracket fungus P. sanguineus, always found occurring on decomposing wood from trees such as pine. This particular specimen was found on an old and partially decayed Weeping Willow along our Spruit trail. It is widespread and inedible, although non-toxic. It is of small-medium diameter, bright orange, and is observed “fruiting” from November – April.

Throughout history, mankind have found fungi to be of great appeal. Much mystery and mythology surrounds fungi. They have found a place in children’s fairy-tales, been used to stimulate unearthly visions and often vivid hallucinations, have found their way into traditional medicines and are the basis of modern antibiotics (such as penicillin). They have been used in the production of an array of adult beverages and have been used the world over in a huge plethora of culinary masterpieces. Fungi can either be beneficial as already mentioned or be the source of acute poisoning in humans and livestock.
One particularly alien species Ophiocordyceps camponoti-rufipedis, is known to abduct carpenter ants Camponotus rufipes by rooting itself in their brain-stem, driving them into sunlight and sprouting from their heads whilst simultaneously killing the host in the process – talk about bizarre! (Don’t worry – their distribution is limited to certain tropical forests). For the most part fungi play an important ecological, cultural and spiritual role the world over.
You’ve heard of the Food pyramid in school yes? Well fungi form the basis of this pyramid as decomposers. As implied, their primary ecological role is to decompose and restore to the earth, in basic form, all plant and sometimes animal matter; thereby facilitating the growth of new life forms. Careful examination of almost all known terrestrial biomes and ecosystems will reveal the presence of fungi of one or another form.


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


8th November, 2013: Steelwings

Clarens News: 8th November, 2013: Steelwings
Contents: In the Rooiberg; Steelwings; Clarens Craft Beer Festival; Getting the Beer Fest to work for you; Community Garden News; Plant of the week: Helechrysum callicomum; The Twitcher; Invitation from Dihlabeng Municipality; The Clarens : Golf News; This weekend; Let’s Remember –  11th November; Classifieds
Clarens News Clarens - In the Rooiberg


You simply have to read Mary’s article:  In the Rooiberg .  It will make you feel good to be alive, and even better if you happen to  live in the Free State.

The photograph features in the 2014 calendar produced by and sold in aid of Cluny Animal Trust.  Calendars can be purchased at Clarens Gallery, Clementines Restaurant and the Old Stone Bottle Store, in Clarens.  Alternatively they can be ordered from Katherine on 0827886287, Jan on 0782462553, Helen on 0582230918 or by email to jansander22@gmail.com .

In the Rooiberg

Mary Walker Clarens News Soon after I returned from England last year I was invited to spend the night on a farm in the Rooiberg, between Clarens and Fouriesburg.  I went along with enthusiasm and spent a pleasant afternoon being shown around the farm.  Our photograph this week is of a flock of sheep resting in a pen and, in the background, the Rooiberg Mountains rise up impressively into the perfectly still winter sky.

This mountain range forms the northern slope of the Brandwater basin, stretching from the watershed at Golden Gate in the east, to the Witteberg range in the west, and to the Maloti Mountains beyond the Caledon River in the south.  Within this basin, along the south facing slopes of the Rooiberg, lie the villages of Clarens and Fouriesburg.  These mountains are particularly well known for their sandstone formations, and the late afternoon light transforms their sculpted precipices into lavish shades of pink and orange and ochre.  This gave the mountain range its name – Red Mountains.

In the evening, well after darkness had fallen, my host received a message that sheep had strayed.  I was invited to come along.  We piled into the bakkie and clattered along dirt roads and tracks, up and down winding slopes, through thick darkness.  It had become bracingly cold, the temperature having plummeted, it seemed, as soon as the sun had disappeared.  Despite my hand being bare and aching with cold, I clung onto the handle above the door while the vehicle lurched and bucked its way through the dark night, frenetically chasing the headlamps’ beam barreling ahead along the rutted road.  Read more


Clarens News Steelwings in Clarens

This weekend we have Steelwings returning to Clarens for the 10th time.  What an occasion!
The town has already started “purring” with that rather distinctive Harley-Davidson sound.  There will certainly be lots of action this weekend.  All Harley lovers will have lots to do and lots to see.

Clarens Craft Beer Festival

Clarens News Clarens Beer Festival

The Clarens Craft Beer Festival 2014 was  launched last week on, 1 November, and already there is a hype in the social  media about it. Exciting times! The fourth edition of this popular festival,taking place 21-23 Feb, will see some changes: new exciting breweries, absence of some of the older ones, new food vendors, longer hours (put not too long!) and more music which includes an exciting band from Jozi… Most notable of all is a lack of corporate sponsorship or any sponsorship at all for that matter. We declined the offer of sponsorship from SAB since their requirements were not beneficial for the festival or the village. The beer festival almost didn’t happen as a result, but some support and clever footwork from locals, friends and partners in the events industry opened the doors. Long live the entrepreneurial spirit and here we go – solo!

So, besides launching what else is up?  Accommodation woes, that’s what!  This is also an appeal to the owners of every guest house, B&B, self catering establishment, hotel and booking agency  (and tent, cave, kennel) to please, please, please support the festival by taking bookings for festival goers only as far as possible – we will fill them up, guaranteed.  If there are existing bookings that you don’t know were made for the fest, how about contacting the guests and informing them of the event? If there is a wedding party booked – how about suggesting to the guests that they extend their Clarens experience by visiting the fest on the Friday? And, if you are booked up, please don’t just say “the village is full” – please refer them to the festival website where they can contact us for alternatives. The reality is that the festival relies on people to make it work, and whilst the perception is that we make a huge amount of money from this, we don’t and in fact are in the red after three years. So the 2014 edition is a watershed one; if we get the numbers we will continue with the festival. If not, this will be the last. Please don’t let that happen by supporting the festival!

For a preview of the website Click here
You should also have a look at the Beer Fest Facebook page

Getting the Beer Fest to work for you

You can not only support the Beer fest but also get it to work for you by advertising on the beer fest website.  To find out more click  here
If you still have accommodation available over the beer fest  weekend, please email: natalie@clarensbrewery.co.za.  We need to make sure that everyone wanting to come to the Beer Fest has somewhere to stay.

Community Garden News

Clarens News - Clarens Community GardensLetter from Tsepiso Mosia

The prize giving function went well as expected on the 29 October 2013.What an event.I would like to thank all the stakeholders,participants and the sponsors for the job well done.
I want to thank the following sponsors: Rand Water, Clarens Breweries,Clarens Suppliers,De Boer Family,Bon Appetit,Mont d Or,Old Stone Bottle Store,Clarens Interiors,Valley Cats, Clarens Village Grocer & Clarens Trading Post and lastly Clarens News.

Your prizes made such a difference to the event and lives of the recipients.The good news is that the event was such a success that the MEC Me Mamiki Qabathe has chosen Clarens to host the District Event on the 02 December 2013.
This is a good recognition for our town.Please let us support this event for the benefit of Clarens.

Thank you for the Team effort.

Tsepiso Mosia
Department of Agriculture & Rural Development  FS
071 079 1332
E-mail: mosiatsepiso@yahoo.com


Plant of the week: Helechrysum callicomum


Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Helichrysum callicomumDamien Coulson:

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.

Read more  



The Twitcher

Clarens News The Twitcher

No news of Kaalvoet this week, which is perhaps as well, given the influx of mounted aliens from all points north, south, east and west.  These gentle souls are dedicated to the preservation of American culture and consider the flatulent rumble of a Harley exhaust a thing of beauty and joy forever.  It may be that one Harley exhaust gently chuckling on a Free State mountaintop is indeed something special, but massed in discordant harmony, the result is far from orchestral perfection.  Still, their obsession with Captain Morgan’s and flat Coke means that they will spend large parts of the weekend either unconscious or incapable of riding their mopeds, so we may be spared the cacophony for some parts of their time with us.
Of particular concern to your faithful correspondent is of course the effect of this tsunami of noise on our birdlife.  I watched with concern as my Guinea Fowl flock decamped from the plains of the Golf Estate, but it turned out to be the predatory ramblings of my Norwegian Forest cat, Zak.  They are apparently oblivious to humankind’s obsession with noisy toys and hardly cast a glance at the leather-clad strangers.  So perhaps it is just us after all.   Read more


Invitation from Dihlabeng Municipality

 Dihlabeng Mayoral Charity Golf Day


The Clarens : Golf News


This competition will be our Mug of Mugs Final, our Club Champs and an Open division will be available for all those just looking to join in the fun.Clarens News Clarens Open

Cost is only R150pp, includes Halfway and snacks at prize giving!

Please distribute to your mailing lists and spread the word at your local club or bar. Your support is much appreciated.

Printed posters will also soon be distributed.

Kind Regards,

Francois Schoeman
Golf Operations Manager
058 2561270 / 1319
email: progolf@theclarens.co.za

This weekend – Weather

This weekend –  Music

Friday 8th November 2013

Street Café : 20h30   –   Fumadores   

Friends: 21h00 – Swetty Betty          –

Artichoke: 18h00- Deon The Soutie from Totie       –

Saturday 9th November 2013

Street Cafe:  12h00 – Deon The Soutie from Totie

Street Cafe:  21h00 – Fumadores

Artichoke:  11h30 – Fumadores

This weekend – Rugby fixtures

The boks take on the Welsh this Saturday.  Watch all the action at one of the pubs in Clarens (Artichoke has a big screen).  It’s almost like being at the game.

This weekend – Other events

Steelwings: Here’s your chance to drool over the more than 500 Harley Davidsons visiting Clarens this weekend.
Saturday: 9th November, 2013

Farmers Market:  Saturday:  10h00 – 15h00  Outside Bibliophile

Let’s Remember –  11th November

Clarens News 11th November remembrance

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the fighting stopped. It was the end of World War I :  the war that destroyed a generation and changed the world forever.   Remembrance or Poppy Day is observed annually in South Africa to commemorate the sacrifice of veterans and civilians not only in the two World Wars but in all other wars as well.

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem “In Flanders Fields”. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.    Click here to read the famous poem: In Flanders Fields.

The 11th November 1965 was also the day that Rhodesia declared UDI    (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) and life for many in Southern Africa was also changed forever.



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