The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       April 2001      Number 4

Pitsane & Gaborone - A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

February was mostly settling in. I finally got a house and moved in on the 26th. March has been much more rewarding. On the 2nd I had to go south to a Baralong Landboard workshop 5 miles from the South African border to explain environmental impact assessment. The talk went well (even if the museum slide projector is as bad as ever) and afterward we were entertained with a black-headed oriole, white-fronted beeeaters and a toad while waiting for lunch. After lunch I made a stop at Pitsane, the historic village where Leander Star Jameson led his abortive raid into South Africa, a raid which foreshadowed the Anglo-Boer war. (Jameson's raid was allegedly planned with Rhodes in the very building - then a coach house- where my office is located in Gaborone. The village has closed on Pitsane Pan and signs of goats, donkeys and vehicles were everywhere. Most of the succulents were hiding under candle thorn (Acacia hebeclada) which has upright pods because its so close to the ground it can't hang them down. I noted Crassula capitella and Delosperma herbeum had been nibbled right at the point when they reached open sky. I was looking for Orbea tapscottii which Desmond Cole implies has disappeared (which is somehow my fault?) and couldn't find any stapeliads. Fortunately I was with Rapekenene, the same driver as the trip with Cole, who quickly showed me Duvalia polita and Huernia longituba. So at least some stapeliads are still there. I also failed to find any Nananthus which Cole had taken me there to see. The site is really degraded, but don't blame me. Survivors include Aloe marlothii, Ipomoea bolusiana, Bulbine narcissifolia, Pterodiscus speciosus, Aloe transvaalensis, Kalanchoe rotundifolia and some bulbs of Albuca and Ledebouria species. The only thing in the Euphorbiaceae was the tuberous Jatropha zeyheri.

On the 3rd and 4th I visited an "empty" lot two blocks south from my house and found Aloe transvaalensis, Talinum arnotii, Jatropha zeyheri, Raphionacme burkei, Cyphostemma schlecteri, Ipomoea bolusiana, Ipomoea holubii, Adenia digitata, Scilla, Ledebouria, Commelina, Tradescantia, Tachyandra and Ammocharis. There were beautiful blue waxbills and bronze mannikins. Many plants were blooming and I'll collect seed when it ripens. I painfully dug one Raphionacme tuber only to find it growing in my driveway! (The one I dug is now planted in the botanic garden.)

Next the Morale Hills.

P.S. I meant to reply to the comment some time back that I hadn't given instructions for pronouncing San (Bushman) words. It's really quite simple:
! (also written with a Q) is the palatal click- pop your tongue against the back roof of the mouth to make a "champagne cork popping".
/ (also written C) is the lateral click - make a sound like used for urging a horse (or mule) to move.
// (also written X) is the labial click -often written tsk, tsk in English (tongue inside front teeth).
All else is pronounced phonetically. Another suggestion is to call the plant in question the "velcro" leaf - the back of the leaves have hairs which allow them to stick together. Does this help?

If you have any comments or questions or would like to
submit a photograph or article, contact

Material in The Cactus Patch may be reprinted by non-profit organizations (unless such permission is expressly denied in a note accompanying the material) provided that the proper credit is given to the BCSS & the author and that one copy of the publication containing the reprinted material is sent to the editor. Reproduction in whole or part by any other organization without the permission of the BCSS editor is prohibited.

PREVIOUS LETTER               Bruce's Letters               NEXT LETTER

The Cactus Patch HOME      HOME