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12/11/2018

A rare and special plant species that was believed to be extinct for years, has literally raised its head on our nature reserve again, making our reserve even more important as a conservation area and raising our status as a reserve.

Aspalathus cliffortiifolia is a critically endangered and exceptionally local endemic plant. It was thought to be extinct up to about 10 years ago when we found a tiny population next to Driftsands Drive, opposite the old Boet Erasmus stadium, but this has gone extinct due to overburning, says Dr Adriaan Grobler of the African Centre for Coastal Palaeoscience at Mandela University.

“This species does not seem to resprout after fire, and needs fire to stimulate seed germination,” he says.

Dr Grobler has found two other populations after the fires of 2014, near Noordhoek, and one at Schoenmakerskop. He also found a single plant hanging on along a track at the western end of our nature reserve.

“They seem to only grow in quite shallow sand on limestone outcrops. This is a special and very threatened little plant, so we have to take care so that we have a healthy population in the reserve”, he says.

These plants are also closely related to rooibos tea, which is Aspalathus linearis.

What is especially exciting is that these plants are now quite common in a particular area close to the plant nursery on South Campus. The site is a little valley, so the soils are not so shallow and the geology is calcrete, says reserve manager Craig Breedt.

Contact information
Mr Craig Breedt
Ranger
Tel: 27 41 504 4228
craig.breedt@mandela.ac.za