Sensation -Malbrokskloof and Ld como h
In his 1969 monograph on Sorocephalus, John Rourke noted that the Pinhead Powderpuff So teretifolius had been collected by Drege at a locality known as Malbrokskloof. Two records 7-February-1828 and 19-September-1833 were collected from "Between Uitkyk and Malbrokskloof." This locality was important as this species had only been collected twice since Drege collected it by Elsie Esterhuysen "between DuToitskloof Peak and Goudini Sneeukop" and Peter Jackson "on Wemmershoek summit ridge. John surmized, based on other records collected by Drege, that this kloof was just north of the summit of DuToitskloof Pass.
But then in the 1980s a population of Villiersdorp Ridgecone Conebush Ld comosum homaeophyllum was discovered above Villiersdorp by Mr Louis de Wet. This was sensational, as this subspecies was known from only one locality: "Malbrokskloof, Dutoitskloof," collected on 20-February-1828 and 12-December-1828. This clinched the locality. Malbrokskloof could not be the upper end of Dutoitskloof near to Paarl (as Ion Williams surmized in 1972, based on the fact that Drege visited the kloof so frequently) but the kloof south of Stettynskloof Dam leading up to the saddle at "High Noon." And sure enough, the Pinhead Powderpuff has been found there as well and atlassed too.
And then came the midweek team. While atlassing the road above Du Toits Kloof Pass on the farm "De poort van du Toits kloof," while the farmer was bagging Ivan for trespassing, we bagged Leucadendron comosum homaeophyllum within 50 m of the road, just round the corner from the farmers house. Only a few plants, but with the needle-like leaves and distinctive cone, this could only be the Villiersdorp Ridgecone Conebush.
So, 170 years after having been discovered, Ld comosum homaeophyllum has pinned down the locality of Malbrokskloof! None other than the upper Dutoitskloof Pass, between the summit overlooking Paarl and the old tunnel. The plants were in sight of thousands of motorists every year! Much more alarming, for the conservation ecologists, the farmer has been picking this species for many years and it has been regularly on sale in Cape Town. The picking is sustainable, so this is not the problem. The problem is that no one who bought the flower bunches noticed this once-thought extinct species. Do people really not bother about the flowers they buy, as long as they look pretty? Even the farmer was surprised by the news "It has always been there - I have been picking it for years".
So now all that remains is to find out if John Rourke was really correct, with his detective work. To do that we need to find the Pinhead Powderpuff nearby. Come on! Lets go!