Did you know that the Dundee Fire Lily (Cyranthus nutans) is only found in and around Dundee and additionally, a tiny population in Swaziland?
This extremely threatened flower is only found on recently burnt grasslands and is environmentally unique to our area. They only bloom for a few days with a two week window period for a whole year.
The best place to find them is on the grassy plains below Talana Museum. So if you see museum staff bent over noses to the ground and bums in the air they are counting the blooms to see what is happening to the plants.
There is a further small pocket, where seeds have washed downstream in the Steenkoolspruit, and one 1km² in Swaziland. These are the only areas in the world where this plant occurs. Slowly but surely the numbers are dwindling.
With cars now taking an illegal short cut past, between and under the Eskom power pylons on the banks of the Steenkoolspruit, to Craigside, that entire population of the plant has been destroyed.
It is inconspicuous and when it is not flowering it is extremely hard to find like many of the small, subterranean bulbous plants. So the little yellow flower that you might not ever have noticed has had a large number of the plants killed by careless drivers.
Our battlefields are full of hidden treasures like these. The next time your guide stops and looks at a little flower, linger perhaps and learn about some of our lesser-known treasures.
Pam McFadden has spent many years researching the battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal. She has been interested in them since a young child. As a registered specialist guide on these battlefields for the past 40 years her knowledge about events and the people involved is considerable. Since 1983 as curator, Pam McFadden has developed the Talana Museum in Dundee into one of the finest in the country. As part of the museum collections she has collected and created an extensive museum archive, that holds many treasures.
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