The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       October 2001      Number 10

Celebration - A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

I forgot to note one interesting connection between the Limpopo and the Kora Preserve in Kenya. George Adamson used the Kora Preserve to introduce lions to the wild. Because of its remoteness it apparently worked, but some of the same batch of lions was introduced to the Limpopo area with disastrous results in which the lions were killed. The Limpopo was designated for farms and known as the Tuli Block, but is gradually changing to a wildlife area with a bit of conflict. At the North end the elephants were quite placid, but the stampeding ones down at the Limpopo Lodge reflected the fact that neighboring farms shot at them. (The fence had broken and there were cows in the game park. Should the manager there have the right to shoot them?)

But on to September. The month began with an exhibit called "A Celebration of Succulents". This month was chosen because the tree aloes (Aloe marlothii) are in bloom. Unfortunately, the local schools were on holiday so we had a poor turnout. Andrena Teed, a primary school teacher, spoke on "An Amateur's View of Succulents."

In addition to exhibits we had a tour of the botanic garden. We have had a class from the University and the Women's Corona Society (British Women) come out, so it hasn't been a total bust. I'm glad I didn't get those paper doll cacti before the exhibit was set up. I would have been tempted to add them.

While working on the exhibit I read a couple of good succulent books. The first is: "Mesembs of the World", 1998, Briza Pubs., Pretoria. It has nine authors of whom I know Gideon Smith, Ernst van Jarsveld, Heidi Hartman and Steven Hammer. As usual there is too much splitting and some of the grouping (e.g flat leaved and weedy) is a bit artificial. Also I object to calling those colorful flower appendages petals. As far as I'm concerned they are staminodes (broad sterile stamens). But this is being picky and it is an excellent book which is needed since H. Herre's "The Genera of the Mesembryanthemaceae", 1971, Tafelberg, Cape Town is out of print.

The other is: "Guide to the Aloes of South Africa", Van Wyk and Smith, 1996, Briza. Here I would congratulate them on subsuming Aloe transvaalensis under Aloe zebrina, but I wonder why they still separate Aloe cryptopoda and Aloe leutescens. They include Aloe wickensii as a bicolored form of A. cryptopoda, but say that A. cryptopoda is south of A. leutescens. (Though I know it from as far north as Malawi.) Also they admit "In the Western extreme of the distribution area, plants are found which appear to be intermediate...". But again I am too picky and it is overall an excellent book, although there is no shortage of Aloe books.

On the 2nd, the Bird Club drove south to Manyelanong (Vulture Shitting Place), a reserve at Otse. They could be seen on their nests with new chicks, but I thought the succulents were more interesting. We parked in a field of bulbinas in full bloom and we passed Aloe marlothii in massive bloom the whole way down. In addition to succulents there were white flowers of Acacia melifera and Dombeya (of the Sterculia family).

On the 5th we went to the opening of the Botswana International Trade Fair and heard the President speak. We then headed for the pigs as a friend of ours had a prize sow, but we had to wait while President Mogae had a look. He got there first by driving. The museum did not have an exhibit, but we did lend some stuffed birds to Wildlife. As Calvin Sabole, our taxidermist, commented, next year we should enter ourselves and get some credit. (Would I have to paint a background?)

Polly has been kept busy caring for Dr Lilian Turton, retired chemistry professor who helped establish our herbarium. She has been bedridden with a bad back, but is getting better (which should be a relief to Polly).

Next Children and "A Child".

[both books,"Mesembs of the World" and "Guide to the Aloes of South Africa" are in the club library. Check it out! - ed.]

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