Expedition to find Kniphofia

Photograph of sky and clouds across Free State

This page is a summary of my expedition to find Kniphofia, red hot pokers, in 2012. A copy of the full report from the trip can be found here: http://issuu.com/christopherwhitehouse/docs/kniphofia_report. It is also a chance to thank all those who have helped me along the way, whether giving advice, either beforehand or on the trip itself, showing me around, or making my stay at the various B&Bs/cottages so pleasant. I won’t name people explicitly here for fear of missing someone out but hopefully the links through to relevant places is a small way of showing my appreciation.

Introduction – Poking around in South Africa
Field Guides of South Africa
Jan 24 – Road work botany – Johannesburg airport to Colesberg, Kuilfontein Farm
Jan 25 – Mr Tuck’s poker – Kuilfontein Farm, Colesberg
Jan 26 – Journey over the edge – Colesberg to Joubertina
Jan 27 – The original red hot poker – Joubertina to Hogsback, King’s Lodge
Jan 28 – Hogsback in flower – Gaika’s Kop & Tor Doone, Hogsback
Jan 29 – Eastern Cape wilderness – Hogsback to Rhodes, Walkerbouts Inn
Jan 30 – On top of the Cape – Tiffindell & Ben McDhui
Jan 31 – South African flower quiz – Rhodes to Bushman’s Nek, Elton Farm
Feb 1 – Gambling doesn’t pay – Mount Sutherland
Feb 2 – Poker variations – Bushman’s Nek to Durban
Feb 3 – A day with the experts – Durban & the Botanic Gardens
Feb 4 – An unexpected hike – Durban to Highmoor, Heronmoor Retreat
Feb 5 – A mix of pokers – Highmoor
Feb 6 – Pokers in the mist – Highmoor to Cathedral Peak, Didima Camp
Feb 7 – Tantalising glimpses – Cathedral Peak
Feb 8 – Third pass lucky – Cathedral Peak to Oliviershoek, Dumbe
Feb 9 – Dumb and Dumbe – Dumbe
Feb 10 – A British summertime drive – Oliviershoek to Buffelskloof Private Nature Reserve
Feb 11 – Good day, bad day – Lydenburg area
Feb 12 – Pokerhunters – Piet Retief area
Feb 13 – The last poker – Buffelskloof Private Nature Reserve to Johannesburg airport
Index to Kniphofia – A medley of pokers

And if you are interested in trying to grow any of the beautiful plants mentioned in my blog, then why not check to see if the seeds are available from Silverhill Seeds or African Bulbs.


A Medley of Pokers

Safely back home, it is now time to assess the expedition and write up the reports. A first assessment of the results makes very pleasing reading. Of the 52 taxa recorded for the Flora of Southern Africa (48 species and 4 subspecies or varieties) I managed to see 23 in…

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The Last Poker

Kniphofia ensifolia subsp ensifolia, Asphodelaceae

And so the trip ends. Today it was just a question of returning from Buffelskloof to the airport in time to catch my evening flight home. There was no great rush to the day but one never likes to leave catching a flight to the last minute. John and Sandie…

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Pokerhunters

Flowering head of Kniphofia albescens, Asphodelaceae

Today was a mammoth day of travelling: an almost 600km round trip very kindly driven entirely by John Burrows of Buffelskloof. The aim was to find Kniphofia albescens, which he had seen in the uplands near Piet Retief some years ago. If that was successful we hoped to go on…

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Good day, bad day

Buffelskloof Nature Reserve near Lydenburg

Good day – rain had stopped overnight and I was up by 6am ready to drive around the local area looking for Kniphofia with John Burrows, the manager of Buffelskloof Nature Reserve. Bad day – Wallet was missing, spent next hour looking everywhere in my cottage and luggage to no…

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A British summertime drive

I have now arrived at Buffelskloof and my final stop on my expedition but getting here was not a journey to remember. Apart from the long roadworks and the frequent lorries reducing speed to a crawl, those bits of the countryside that did look appealing to drive through were blighted…

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Dumb and Dumbe

View from Dumbe peak

One should never be such in a hurry that one does not pause to double-check. At the top of Dumbe mountain that I climbed this morning, I had a breathtaking view of Cape Vultures catching the thermals at eye-level to where I was standing and soaring upwards. I started taking…

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