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.


The original red-hot poker

Photograph of flowering spike of Kniphofia uvaria

Sometimes it is better not to build up expectation– a lot of planning has gone into this trip and in the process I have imagined the joy of coming across the various Kniphofia that I will be seeking. Today was my venture into the eastern end of the fynbos in…

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Journey over the edge

Photograph of Great Escarpment

One of the reasons Colesberg gets so cold is that it is so high, 1400m (around the height of Ben Nevis). The central plateau of Africa is all at a considerable altitude from Nairobi to Johannesburg. At some point, though, as one heads towards the coast one has to descend…

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Mr Tuck’s poker

Photograph of Karoo at Kuilfontein Farm

Kuilfontein Farm is not the sort of place that one would expect to find a common British garden plant to be growing. The Karoo is a generally harsh environment, where most plants barely get over a foot tall, either because of the shallow soil, the lack of rain or the…

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Road Work Botany

Photograph of N1 on way to Colesberg

South Africa is a country of great diversity: it has some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the world, but it also has a large portions which never get into any guide book. I have driven through a large chunk of the latter today, making my way from…

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Field Guides of South Africa

Display of some field guides for Kniphofia expedition to South Africa

Do you take some “light” reading with you when you travel abroad?  I think this is one of the hardest decisions I have to make whenever I travel somewhere: which books do I want? Which ones will I actually use? Do I need to keep some weight allowance to bring…

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Poking around in South Africa

I am sure that you can recognise a red hot poker when you see one but did you realise that there were around 70 species in the genus Kniphofia?  The majority of these species grow in the eastern half of South Africa and next week I am off on an…

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