Saturday 29 October 2011

Clearing cotoneaster

Clarens, 18.11.2011
I have already mentioned the non-indigenous trees in Clarens’ streets. Cotoneaster is another non-indigenous species which established itself very successfully along the dry river bed at the bottom of our street.
This morning, when we were starting for our mountain hike, we met some people doing conservation work: they were cutting it away.
I told them that where we lived we also had it and the birds loved it. At which point one of the guys opens his hand and show us several berries. He was doing just the same.
What a splendid idea! We must do the same because our fruit intake has plummeted since we arrived.  

Suddenly, a couple of retired white volunteers appeared on the scene. They told us all kinds of interesting things about the area. Practically all the trees along that river bed were non-native species: poplar, cypress, robinia pseudo-acacia, oak, willow and even pampas grass. The latter has been introduced deliberately to stabilise mine dumps! This plant is really adaptable; it has run hammock in the Iberian Peninsula and I’ve even seen it in the Hilly Fields, Colchester, and Japan.
Also, I’ve spotted an unusual buddleia which has turned up to be indigenous.
The commonest indigenous plant was oldwood Leucosidea sericea, a rather nice small tree hawthorn size. Funny enough, I spotted some harlequin ladybird larvae on the spent blossoms. See below.

Back to the volunteers, the Kgubetswana & Clarens Village Conservancy were trying hard to keep the area under control and had even made a brochure. At which point one of the young men fetched it from his rucksack. It had a splendid map with the trails in the area; just what we needed for our walk. Another gem! 

We carried on chatting with the retired couple while the young men went back to their tasks, discretely.
There seems to be an unspoken barrier between these two sets of people. They just don’t mix. This place is definitely run by the whites.

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