The Cactus Patch
Volume 5       April 2002      Number 4

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

It is still hot, but a bit cloudy, which helps. On the 14th we had fog - it looked like San Francisco! The e-mail is back up and the mail coming in (we got the Cactus Patch on Monday the 18th). If only we could get electricity for the stifling offices!

We had a couple of successful collecting trips. On the 10th we went to Pyetle Hill, an odd peak surrounded by a hanging marsh which is, in turn, surrounded by hills. I was looking for a part of the hills southwest of here to be designated as a National Monument. I'm still looking, but next to a blooming Aloe zebrine, we found a blooming orchid at Pyetle. This is the first time I have seen Bonatea speciosa in Botswana. (The drawing in "Succulents of Botswana" is from Lesotho!)

Then on the 15th we went with the Bird Club to Darnaway Farms at the upper end of the Limpopo. The farmhouse is surrounded by Aloe littoralis under which were blooming plants of the smelly succulent mint Plectranthus cylindricus. One of the aloes had seven heads. None of the aloes had prickles on the back of the leaf as found elsewhere (e.g. North of Francistown and at Mamuno on the Namibian border). Incidentally, the species is named from the beach locality it was first found in at Angola. It grows to tree size, but is often shorter. I failed to find Euphorbia waterbergensis which has been given to me from the South African side of the river near nearby Buffelsdrift. We camped by the river and on Saturday all 32 of us had a candle-lit dinner in the bush (to celebrate a birthday and the departure of a past president). Next day (St. Patrick's) we had corn beef and cabbage for breakfast. On the way home we saw a pair of the rare ground hornbills.

We have just received Vol. 9 part 5 of Flora Zambesiaca which covers the subfamily Euphorbioideae tribe Euphorbieae of the Euphorbiaceae. It is a masterful production by Susan Carter of Kew in conjunction with the late Larry Leach of southern Africa. I'm going to need a lot of time to absorb all of it, but I noticed immediately that the fight is lost against separating those weedy garden spurges into a separate genus Chamaesyce! In a footnote on the opening page Susan Carter says, "Section Chamaesyce, as it occurs in tropical Africa, would be particularly easy to distinguish as a genus, and since this account was submitted for publication the evidence for doing so has been accepted by almost all workers." This does help reduce the overwhelming number of species in the genus Euphorbia.

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