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Ld coriaceum nicked at Elandskloof-Kars River

Protea Atlas LogoNick Helme has discovered Ld coriaceum, Rosette Conebush, at Elandskloof, putting the cherry on top of 5 years of looking for this species in the Elandskloof – Kars River area NW of Napier. Several Protea Atlas trips have all yielded nothing except the odd Ld teretifolium. The veld in the area varies from Renosterveld to Fynbos, but is characteristically poor in proteas.

The herbarium records were collected by Christian Ecklon in 1826 from "Hills near Karsrivier." The problem here is that there are several farms named "Karsrivier" between Caledon, Swellendam and Bredasdorp, and we have found Ld cori on at least one other such farm northeast of Bredasdorp. Leopold Mund also collected it in the early 1800s from "Hills near Elandskloof" – this is the type specimen for the species. Hence finding this locality is particularly important. Because Ecklon and Mund overlapped in their visits, they may have collected together or swapped information on good collecting sites. Hence the interest in finding the Karsrivier-Elandskloof locality.

Ld coriaceum has been found to be far more widespread than previously thought, but always appears to occur in small patches either on seeps or silcrete soils within Renosterveld. It appears to have been radically reduced in its distribution range, and yet we have found most historical populations and several more within the remnants of Renosterveld. We still have not located the Novo/ Vergenogh / Corrente River Road populations which were collected in the 1920s and 1940s. Unfortu-nately, the plants are almost invisible when not in flower –thus September to December is the prime time for looking for this species. Is it really extinct in the Riversdale area?

Tony Rebelo

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