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Photos / Sounds

What

Goldenrods Genus Solidago

Observer

beetledude

Date

March 24, 2017

Description

Die Geel Gevaar


10 years ago this was a happy suburban vlei with birds, fishes and butterflies. It has subsequently become completely clogged with a large variety of alien invaders. This yellow one seems to be new. >100 plants, up to 220 cm tall. Seems confined to c. 100 square meters. Growing strongly, flowering profusely at present. I must have overlooked them in recent years.
 
I am worried. Identification and advice, please. I can make a herbarium sample if necessary.

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Photos / Sounds

What

Traveller's Joy Clematis brachiata

Observer

beetledude

Date

March 23, 2017

Description

Traveller^s Joy? Commuter^s Delight!


Peak flowering time in this thornveld. A welcoming sight down the hill to the office.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

beetledude

Date

January 1, 2017

Description

Evidence that they fly as high as 6 storeys


Small longhorn beetle flew onto my desk in a concrete box on the 6th floor. Roundabout 21:30.

Photos / Sounds

What

Silk Oak Grevillea robusta

Observer

beetledude

Date

January 19, 2014

Description

Silky Oak -- Being invaded by indigenous vegetation?


? See this project: http://www.ispotnature.org/projects/silky-oak

For about 230 m along this road a row of Silky Oaks stands on either side. The trees are old; some seem to be decrepit or dying. Have a look at the satellite view, and especially Google Streetview, to appreciate what may be going on here. It's almost as good as going there. Don't go as far as the casuarinas or the pines on the northern side of the road. The current Streetview imagery is, unfortunately, from mid-winter.

On the northern side of the road (left on the pictures), it seems like the Silky Oaks were planted as a windbreak for the orchard just behind them. I think those are almonds. I have no such a neat explanation for the opposite row of trees. Enough money for symmetry, perhaps. Must have been beautiful when young.

I assume that the windbreak and opposite row were cleared of indigenous vegetation when they were newly planted, how many decades ago. Now, the rows of ageing Silky Oaks are unkempt, and a fair number of different indigenous trees and shrubs (and trees-as-shrubs) have infiltrated the Silky Oaks. In some stretches the indigenous vegetation seems to dominate the planted trees, which are taller. In places it looks like the bush that must have been present there before the area was cleared for agriculture.

Compared to undisturbed areas in close vicinity, the natural bush on this farm and the others along this road was completely destroyed, I assume when the area was settled and tamed. Colonised, one could say. That could have been towards the end of the nineteenth century, but that then at the earliest. The species of tree and shrub that are infiltrating the Silky Oak avenue are typical of topographically comparable undisturbed remnants of veld in De Tweedespruit. The "invaders" here include Silver Clusterleaf Terminalia sericea, Buffalothorn Ziziphus mucronata, some acacia shrubs or trees, and even Savanna Protea Protea caffra. Except for the Vachellia on this little list, I have no knowledge that any of the other species are ever significant bush encroachers, and probably also not usually pioneer species. I assume that the Silky Oaks created suitable microhabitat for them to establish and persist, and -- importantly -- that the farmer gave up clearing.

Most unsurprisingly the incursion is not only of indigenous plants. I can recall Bugweed Solanum mauritianum and Cherrypie Lantana camara also being there, and perhaps also Yellow Bells Tecoma stans, but of the last one I'm not sure.

Have another look at the satellite view: these fringes of bush are really narrow, probably kept from expanding away from the road because of ongoing agricultural clearing or simply routine agricultural activity. That makes me wonder if the indigenous plants invaded the planted rows in a linear manner -- did not think of this on the day I took these ugly pictures.

These pictures were taken in a hurry while I was doing something very different (and truly out of the ordinary). I hope to return to this avenue in future to explore and document the situation with more attention.


Number of individuals: c. 200 (planted in rows, ageing).
Size class: 4–8 m, or >8 m.

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What

Silk Oak Grevillea robusta

Observer

beetledude

Date

January 19, 2014

Description

Silky Oak -- Not obviously invading anything


? See this project: http://www.ispotnature.org/projects/silky-oak

Pictures of a tree taken long before Rabelani's project was initiated, hence no tailormade observations. Along this dirt road in a farming area there are the occasional large Silky Oak, which I assume have been planted there.

Start at this location, where this tree is clearly visible on Google Streetview. Then drive up and down the De Tweede Spruit road with Google Streetview to get a rather good impression of the Silky Oaks at the side of the road. I cannot discern any baby trees, but I'm not too sure what they look like. Unfortunately the current Streetview version is in the middle of winter.

Number of individuals: Occasional along road.
Size class: 4–8 m, or >8 m.

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Photos / Sounds

Observer

beetledude

Date

October 19, 2016

Description

Squill by/for my UK friends


My London friends Ludwig & Paul are exploring the Drakensberg. Ludwig snapped these pictures on Wednesday. I want to surprise him with a reliable identification.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

beetledude

Date

August 13, 2015

Description

Stompkoppiehoutboorderkewertjie


Came to light in evening. Length 7.5 mm.

Photos / Sounds

What

Baboon Grape Rhoicissus digitata

Observer

beetledude

Date

October 24, 2014

Description

Sea pumpkin


On beach, low spring tide: hundreds of these "pumpkins" lying in shallow water. It is apparently important to note that the beach sand was deeply washed away. It was night.

Pumpkins as in pictures. Enormous, fleshy things. The one collected and shown here was one of the smallest; size up to double this. Flesh really juicy, no smell, no taste -- seems to be all fresh water. Is this a plant's underground storage organ?

Twig with leaves came along later, donated by a stranger. If the leaves do not belong to the pumpkin, I shall remove them.

First opinion was that the pumpkins were washed ashore from the coral reefs. That lead to the identification of the pumpkins as algae.

Second opinion was that the twig & leaves, dug up from the beach sand, belong with the pumpkins. A stranger gave me the gift of a small sample of his larger sample.

Third opinion, by another stranger, was that these pumpkins belong to the Asteraceae. I have no idea why.

What are sea pumpkins?

 
 

EDIT HISTORY

• Observation originally posted 2014-11-06.
• Pictures of leaves removed 2014-12-26 (see below for why).

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Karoo Thrush Turdus smithi

Observer

beetledude

Date

February 1, 2014

Description

Half-bird


What^s the saying? Half a bird in the bush is better than an egg in your hand? Or was that an egg on your face?

Photos / Sounds

What

Bumspot Chafer Popillia bipunctata

Observer

beetledude

Date

January 19, 2014

Description

Chafer asana


It was raining and the chafers were too cold to fly. They clung to vegetation, either with the head up, or with the head down. All four individuals I saw were frozen in the same yoga position: holding on with the two front pairs of legs, but the hindlegs are spread up and out as far as they can go. They retained this position when lightly pestered by me.

I don't know what they were doing. I don't know if this is some form of crypsis, or even a form of mimicry. In the upside down position, the two areas of whitish scales may look like eyes. Are they also reverse-painted? The outstretched hindlegs may look a little spidery.

Any thoughts on this pose?

Photos / Sounds

What

Sweet Thorn Vachellia karroo

Observer

beetledude

Date

January 19, 2014

Description

Joy has a yellow colour


When in flower, these trees make me feel better. In my home range they ^mast flower^ two or three times every summer.

Photos / Sounds

What

Feral Pigeon Columba livia var. domestica

Observer

beetledude

Date

August 4, 2013

Description

Foul Fowl -- Another 4 euros


Nestlings in flower box in passageway. Eleven days old.

Some years ago I read that a researcher at the University of Basel, Switzerland, calculated that each feral pigeon in Europe had an economic impact of 2 euros over its lifetime.

Photos / Sounds

What

Yellow Trumpetbush Tecoma stans var. stans

Observer

beetledude

Date

November 17, 2008

Description

Invader in paradise -- Yellow Bells


Multistemmed bush some 3m high. Leaves imparipinnate, leaf margins clearly serrate. Clusters (Racemes) of yellow trumpet flowers with faint stripes in their throats. No fruits visible.

Invader from Mesoamerica. Introduced as ornamental plant. Now occurring frequently in 5 provinces of South Africa, rarely in two more; also neighbouring countries. Potential 'transformer' weed with the ability to form dense monocultures, thereby altering ecosystem structure, integrity and functioning.

One of a group of 'emerging weeds' identified as such in 2004. Biological control currently being researched. One biocontrol agent already released, more to follow.

Photos / Sounds

What

Wood's Cycad Encephalartos woodii

Observer

beetledude

Date

September 20, 2009

Description

Pricey plants


These are prices that living specimens of a plant that is officially Extinct in the Wild can command. Note that the R300 000 individual had indeed been sold.

This is this plant's only known habitat: gardens and exclusive nurseries such as this one that sell these plants. Legally, I assume.

How does it work? From the Red List: "The species was described from a single individual comprising several stems. No other plants were ever found. Some of the original stems were killed through bark harvesting and the last wild plants had been transferred to botanic gardens by 1916."

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Scarlet Darter Crocothemis erythraea

Observer

beetledude

Date

February 6, 2012

Description

Dragonfly to identifly


This observation posted on behalf of Eben Lourens, Field Ranger, Keurbooms Nature Reserve, also to convince him that iSpot is just the ^thing^ for him.

^Is this Pantala flavescens common name Wandering Glider?^

Photos / Sounds

What

Pompom Weed Campuloclinium macrocephalum

Observer

beetledude

Date

February 5, 2012

Description

Pompom Weed establishing in grassy savanna


Photos / Sounds

What

Paintbrush Lily Scadoxus puniceus

Observer

beetledude

Date

February 5, 2012

Description

Scadoxus-puniceus_Roodeplaat: Now in Summer


This is the same individual plant than that observed at http://za.ispot.org.uk/node/141748 (October 2011), almost four months later. It has grown to about 120 cm tall. There is no sign of the flowerhead it carried in October, or of any resultant infruitescence.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

beetledude

Date

February 5, 2012

Description

Lichen on bark of White Stinkwood


I have known these lichens since childhood, but never learnt anything about them yet. It seems that they are specific to the bark (trunks and main branches) of White Stinkwood Celtis africana, but that is probably untrue for the reason that I have not been able to recognise them on other substrates.

The lichens range in size from imperceptibly tiny to around 20 or 25 cm across. Old colonies die off from the centre, as seen in the second & third pictures.

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Sugarbush Protea caffra ssp. caffra

Observer

beetledude

Date

February 28, 2010

Description

Protea from Tshwane


Thanks for all the observations of fantastic Proteaceae from the Cape. Here is one of the few from the summer rainfall area.

Nice population of sugarbush in as-yet-unbuilt area of posh suburb. Prognosis dire. Shale. Aspect ~SE.

Photos / Sounds

What

Potato Lady Beetle Solanophila dregei

Observer

beetledude

Date

June 17, 2008

Description

Potato lady beetles aggregating in winter


COLEOPTERA: COCCINELLIDAE: EPILACHNINAE. An indigenous lady beetle species herbivorous on several kinds of Solanaceae. Habitually hibernates (overwinters) in large aggregations of adults. Read the story below.

Photos / Sounds

What

Grain Lady Beetle Chnootriba similis

Observer

beetledude

Date

December 26, 2010

Description

Grain lady beetles aggregating in summer


COLEOPTERA: COCCINELLIDAE: EPILACHNINAE. An indigenous lady beetle species herbivorous on grass/grain leaf blades. Here estivating (over-summering) in an aggregation of adults.
Read the story below.

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

beetledude

Date

November 29, 2011

Description

Brachycerus cf. labrusca from Scadoxus puniceus


Large flightless weevil with compressed antennal segments (not elbowed as is typical for most weevils); brownish black with rough sculpturing; characteristic dark yellow patches on pronotum and bands on legs. Not uncommon. Found on Scadoxus puniceus: http://za.ispot.org.uk/node/141748.

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

beetledude

Date

June 3, 2009

Description

Magpie Shrike @ the office


Such a cool bird to have resident (and probably breeding) in the office gardens, is it not?

Photos / Sounds

What

Serrated Hinged Terrapin Pelusios sinuatus

Observer

beetledude

Date

October 29, 2010

Description

Turtle @ Roodeplaat (Gauteng)


Photos / Sounds

What

Celtis Leaf Beetles Genus Megaleruca

Observer

beetledude

Date

October 22, 2011

Description

Celtis leaf beetles emerging from pupae


Leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae: Galerucinae) with soft bodies. Wing shields (elytra) lead grey, scutellum and neck shield (pronotum) pale yellow with grey markings. Antennae thread-like, thickening a little towards apex. The very pale individuals (tenerals) have most recently emerged from the pupae and will darken in colour in a matter of hours.

Also see biological note below.

Photos / Sounds

Observer

beetledude

Date

November 16, 2010

Description

Indigofera in southern Zululand


Low shrublet, I hope pics show what is needed; glass tube ('Polytop') in second pic = 8 cm long; grassy area in thornveld savanna.

Photos / Sounds

What

Common Curryflower Lasiosiphon capitatus

Observer

beetledude

Date

November 16, 2010

Description

Gnidia in southern Zululand


Shrublet, c. 20–40 cm in diameter, 20 cm high [no field measurements or specimen taken]; grassland area in thornveld savanna.

Photos / Sounds

Square

Observer

beetledude

Date

December 29, 2009

Description

Another Cleome pic


Inspired by http://za.ispot.org.uk/node/144136.

I do not have a better picture. Can this be confirmed to be Cleome maculata versus Cleome macrophylla?

Tags

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Paintbrush Lily Scadoxus puniceus

Observer

beetledude

Date

October 22, 2011

Description

Scadoxus-puniceus_Roodeplaat


Flowerhead roughly 30cm from soil surface.
Host plant of large weevil Brachycerus cf. labrusca. Here^s the weevil: http://za.ispot.org.uk/node/142445.

This is how the plant looked almost four months later: http://za.ispot.org.uk/node/144534.

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