Mkhambathi Prehistoric Palm

We were in the Transkei a few weeks ago and had the good fortune of hanging out at the Mkhambathi Nature Reserve. It rules! Grasslands next to the sea, waterfalls flowing into it, hiking, birdlife, migrating whales, baboons and no-one else (aside from staff) in the whole reserve.

The reserve is also know for the Mkhambathi Palm  (Pondoland Palm or Jubaeopsis caffra). The palm is a flowering plant species in the palm family (Arecaceae) and belongs to the monotypic genus Jubaeopsis. It is only found only in South Africa where it is becoming rare due to habitat loss . It is apparently a living fossil, the last remaining lineage of palmtrees that were widespread in southern Africa in prehistoric times.

While we saw a load of palms I’m not sure if we came across the Mkhambathi Palm (which has distinctive yellow branches). I think the last pic might be a baby one… Anyone know?

Mkambati Falls
Mkhambathi Falls

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Giant shrooms…

These giant mushrooms are the result of all the rain we have had in Durban throughout October. Take your pick for measuring them; a hand, a size 6 shoe or a Dachshund… These shrooms would make a mean omelette or risotto… Does anyone know if they are edible? What are the tell-tale signs for mushrooms you can eat? Will these kill me? 🙂

A Hand?
A Hand?

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The barn swallows of Mt Moreland

On Friday we did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while – we headed out to Mt Moreland (just outside of Durban) and watched the barn swallows congregate around Lake Victoria and then swoop down to roost in the reedbeds of the lake.  They join up in large groups and circle around the lake for about half an hour before descending en masse to the reeds.  It was quite spectacular.  Not sure of the exact number of swallows but they were in their thousands.

We had some friends visiting from Ireland and, coincidentally, there was an Irish film crew there who are planning to follow the swallows back to Europe.

Lake Victoria Conservancy
Lake Victoria Conservancy

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Cactus cacti

I was up in Vryheid over the weekend, staying at the Natal Spa. They have some really great hot springs there and a very cool, old-school garden. Situated in the centre of this garden were these two interesting cacti.  I’m guessing they’re not indigenous to South Africa but are quite beautiful.

Cactus cacti
Cactus cacti

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