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UMVOTI FLOWER RESERVE
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One of the least known natural jewels of the KZN Midlands is probably the Umvoti Flower Reserve, a mere 10km outside Greytown on the shores of Lake Merthley. A vista combination of fresh green grass, dolorite outcrops, an abundance of wild flowers and the clear waters of the lake make for an unforgettable experience.
A botanist from the National Botanical Institute has described it as on a par with the West Coast of the Western Cape, adding that the Hilton daisies are the most prolific species in the area.
The Hilton daisy (Gerbera Aurantiaca) is a "Red Data" or highly endangered species and being the most spectacular of the Gerberas in the country certainly justifies a day trip to see it in flower.
However, the Hilton daisy is only one of a total of about 100 flowering plants that occur in the Reserve of under 2ha. Most spectacular of these are the blue scilla (scilla natalensis), red indigo (Indigofera hirsuta), tinsel flower (alipedea natalensis), asters (aster bakeranus and perfoliatus), harebells (dierama spp), Vernonia hirsuta, watsonia canaliculata and at least 4 species of ground orchids.
During the height of the season from October to early December one can find up to 70 different plants in flower on any one day and if you visit the reserve more-or-less in mid-October there is a good chance that you will witness the overlapping flowering periods of the orange to red Hilton daisy and the blue scilla, which are also abundant, an experience to treasure for the rest of your life.
During the rest of the flowering period from January to March the main attractions are ground orchids (mainly Satyrium and Euloplia spp), Kniphofia, Pachycarpus and the late flowering Dieramas.
A visit to the Reserve is sure to leave a lasting impression and hopefully inspire each and everyone to preserve the less than 1 % of the remaining Midlands mist belt grasslands and its accompanying flowers by protecting them from further forestation and invasion by alien species.
Plans are afoot to make the Reserve accessible to the disabled giving them the rare opportunity to experience nature's wonders of the beaten track.
The Reserve is amply signposted from the turnoff to Lake Merthley 5km outside Greytown on the Muden road. Patrons are requested not to move off the marked trail so as to ensure that the area will be preserved in its present state for future generations.
The following article appeared in the Greytown Gazette during August 2002
There have a number of positive developments in the year since the official opening of the Umvoti Flower Reserve at Lake Merthley.
A much appreciated donation of R5 000 was received from the Botanical Society of S.A. to cover the costs of employing labour for the purpose of conservation work and the removal of alien species from the Reserve.
In addition about a ton of building rubble was removed and bags and bags of rubbish left by picnickers and fishermen who appear to ignore the rubbish bins provided.
Results of all this clearing having been very visible and quite striking and will enhance considerably the enjoyment of the floral wonderland.
Considerable publicity has been given to the Reserve in the press and glossy national magazines which will hopefully lead to an increase in the number of visitors to the town with the accompanying economic spin offs.
A trail will be marked out for the flowering season and visitors will be requested to keep to the trail so as to minimise damage to the fantastic range of plants. To enable the disabled to enjoy the colorful and spectacular display an unobtrusive track for vehicles is to be set up for the exclusive use of the disabled.
Unfortunately bugweed, brambles and wattles have an unpleasant habit of bouncing back - the hard physically demanding work to rid thearea of these aliens has now been done but volunteers will be needed to pull out wattle and bugweed seedlings as well as destroy regrowth of brambles. This will need to be done three or four times during the growing season after rain.
Volunteers for this are asked to contact Vic Schutte on 413 1825 at any reasonable hour!
Greytown Home Page
LIST OF SPECIES RECORDED
|Acalypha||Peduncularis||Brooms and brushes||Coughs & chest complaints, tonic||.|
|Acalypha||Punctata||Sticky brooms and brushes||Diarrhea & chest complaints||.|
|Ajuga||ophrydis||Bugle Plant||Female sterility, painful menstruation||.|
|Albuca||Setosa||Small white Albuca||.||Ritual cleansing, protect from lightning.|
|Anthericum||cooperi||Coopers Anthericum||.||Good gardening plant|
|Aster||bakeranus||Aster||Urinary & eye infections, syphillis, snake bite etc.||.|
|Berkheya||setifera||Buffalo tongue Berkheya||.||.|
|Commelina||africana||Yellow Commelina||Fits, pain, heart complaints, bladder etc.||.|
|Craterocapsa tarsdes||.||Carpet bell flower||.||.|
|Cyanotis||speciosa||Dolls powder puff||Treat infertility||Love & Protective charm|
|Eriosema||cordatum||Heart-leaved eriosema||Impotence||Stimulate bulls|
|Eriosema||kraussianum||Pale yellow eriosema||.||.|
|Gerbera||aurantiaca||Hilton daisy||.||Hybrodises with G Kraussia|
|Graderia||Scabra||Wild penstemon||Stomach, fevers, rashes, prevent miscarriage||Love charm emetic.|
|Helichrysum||aureonitens||Golden everlasting||.||Invoke goodwill of ancestors & induce trances.|
|Hypoxis||Costata||Star Flower||.||Protection against lightning|
|Hypoxis||Hemerocallidea||Star Flower||Headaches, dizziness, mental disorders, cancer||Incorrectly named african potato|
|Indigofera||hilaris||Red indigo bush||.||.|
|Kniphofia||buchananii||Small white poker||.||Snake deterrent|
|Kohautia||amatymbica||Tremble tops||.||Protect babies from evil, protection against snakes|
|Lichtenstania||interrupta||.||.||Member of carrot family|
|Lobelia||Evinus||Edging lobelia||Colds||Wash divining bones|
|Lotononis||corymbosa||Treat woman who have lost babies||.|
|Monopsis||decipiens||Butterfly lobelia||Colds, skin disease, rheumatism||.|
|Pentanisia||prunelloides||Broad-leaved pentanisia||Haemarrhoids, stomach pains etc.||.|
|Pelargonium||Luridum||Storks bill pelagonium||Dysentry, nausea, fever, vomiting, sick calves||Love charm|
|Pelargonium||Schleteri||Two-tiered pelargonium||Dysentry, nausea, fever, vomiting, sick calves||Love charm|
|Rhynchosia||Villosa||Giant hairy-leaved Rhyncosia||.||.|
|Satyrium||Longicauda||Blushing bride satyrium||.||Protective and love charm|
|Scilla||Natalensis||Large Blue Scilla||Internal tumours, boils, fractures||Used to make soap|
|Senecio||discodregeanus||.||Chest colds and madness||.|
|Stachys||nigricans||.||Tonic||Love charm emetic|
|Trachyandra||reflexipilosa||.||.||Acrid smell when touched|
|Vernonia||hirsuta||Quilted-leaved Vernonia||Colic, sore throat, cough, headache||.|
|Zornia||Capensis||Caterpillar-bean||.||Charm to protect unborn babies from disease.|