One of my favorite things about driving through the Karoo Heartland during the winter is seeing the aloes in bloom. But there is another Karoo succulent that grows between the aloes that most people don’t really notice called Noors. The Noors is a type of euphorbia and found especially around the town of Jansenville. They are smallish, thorny plants with milky sap and the reason that the region is called the Noorsveld.
The origin of the name noors is uncertain but is believed to originate with the British whom the prickly plant with its yellow flowers reminded of gorse. It is supposed that “gorse” evolved via Dutch speaking settlers into “noors”.
The noors is frequently chopped as fodder for stock with the result that Noorsveld farms can carry one unit per morgen compared with one unit per three morgen in Karoo conditions where the noors does not occur.
The Tsitsikamma and the Langkloof is linked by a short pass over the mountain between Oudebosch and Kareedouw on the eastern side. The pass only has 7 bends, all of them are minor. It does offer sweeping views of the Tsitsikamma mountains to the left (west) with the green valley on the right dotted with dams. The vegetation changes very suddenly as one crosses over the top and you enter the Langkloof.
After a day in the Tsitsikamma I decided to detour via Kareedouw before heading back to Port Elizabeth and just had to stop on my way down to the town to take some photos of the beautiful proteas flowering right next to the road. The important thing to always remember is that you are not allowed and should never pick the flowers to take home with you.
A drive up Kragga Kamma Road towards Colleen Glen may just give you a colourful surprise this time of year. I saw a photo of the stunning aloe fence on Kragga Kamma Road in full bloom on Facebook and just had to go and see it myself. The whole aloe fence is probably a good hundred meters in length and all of it is in flower at the moment, making for a stunning site and beautiful photo opportunity.
I’m not a flower expert so I went digging around the internet to find out what kind of aloe it is. My guess was a fence aloe, but it turned out to be Aloe arborescens.
According to Wikipedia,Aloe arborescens, the krantz aloe or candelabra aloe, is a species of flowering succulent perennial plant that belongs to the genus aloe, which it shares with the well known and studied Aloe vera. The specific epithetarborescens means “tree-like”.Aloe arborescens is valued by gardeners for its succulent green leaves, large vibrantly-colored flowers, winter blooming, and attraction for birds, bees, and butterflies.
I’ve got to say, one thing I have missed most because of lockdown is roadtrips through the Karoo and Gamtoos Valley to see the aloes in full bloom this time of year. At least you can still get a taste of it around Port Elizabeth.
It seems that it doesn’t matter where and what time of year you go for a hike along one of the trails around Port Elizabeth, there is always plants flowering. It’s one of the great things of especially fynbos which is found along a lot of the coastal trails around here. Something is always blooming, doesn’t matter the season. With level 3 lock down allowing hiking, there’s really no excuse not to get out over weekend to go and experience the beauty of our region, even if you just go and walk the first couple of hundred meters of the Sacramento Trail in Schoenmakerskop.
It’s been two years since I’ve stopped blogging. What I initially intended to be a three week break was extended to two months and then became an indefinite postponement. My mojo was gone. In fact I didn’t even take photos anymore. My camera gathered dust and my writing skills became rusty. The last two years have been funny actually. I started losing concentration, thought I developed ADD and frankly, also lost a lot of my sense of humour. A visit to the doctor to get something for my “ADD” and I walked out of there with something for depression. Depression? Me? Really?
Then came Covid-19. I was seriously stressed in the week or so before lock down and then in the first two weeks at home. But I think between the meds kicking in and my body and mind getting the opportunity to start settling down I started thinking about my hobbies again. I started working on my landscape model which I haven’t done in probably close to 3 years and the last three weeks seriously started to think about getting back into blogging. When I initially started blogging 12 years ago I did it for the love of travel and sharing the places I went to with my friends and everybody willing to look. Somewhere I lost focus and started worrying about other bloggers too much and why I wasn’t making money or being recognised by the industry. I put too much pressure on myself on what I thought other people wanted me to post rather than what I wanted to post.
So here I am, back in action, but with a couple of changes. I have merged my two blogs, The Firefly Photo Files and Port Elizabeth Daily Photo, into one called Firefly the Travel Guy. The blog still incorporates PEDP so the content will consist of a combination of a lot of Port Elizabeth and Eastern Cape stuff with content from further afield when I get the chance to travel. I have also moved away from the Blogspot platform to WordPress. The new blog address is https://fireflythetravelguy.travel.blog and the domain names http://www.fireflyafrica.co.za and http://www.portelizabethdailyphoto.co.za will be redirected to this blog shortly.
For my first post back I have decided to post a King Protea from the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve. Van Stadens is one of the best spots to see flowering proteas and other fynbos species close to Port Elizabeth right through the year. It offers so may hiking, mountain biking and picnic options and you can drive through a big part of the reserve if you are unable to walk. Two other trails you can see a lot of fynbos on are the Fynbos Trail at Schoenies and the Grysbok Trail on the NMU campus.
I took a walk along the trails in the Baakens Valley for the first time in ages this morning. The veld is very brown and grey due to it being winter, the fact that we’re going through a drought and the fire that burned through the valley a few months ago. There are patches of flowers though like these yellow and purple ones I encountered along the way.
The Latin name for the Red Hot Poker is Kniphofia and its also sometimes known as a Torch lily or Poker plant. According to Wikipedia, it is a genus of plants in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Asphodeloideae, that includes 70 or more species native to Africa. This specific one I found close to Schoenies.
I haven’t been to the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve for a few months so I think it’s time to swing by again to see what is in flower. This is a picture from a little while ago with Pincushions in flower.
Behind the South End Cemetery is an old footbridge over the narrow gauge railway line which most people probably have never seen. It’s not really something significant but I know of it because I have a Geocache hidden there. I went to check up on it the other day after the recent fire and snapped this pic.