Rare beauty in bloom

DSCF0152 (2)As if to make her final curtain call before winter sets in, Mother Nature has chosen a rare endemic shrub to bloom on Mountainlands Nature Reserve. Syncolostemon stalmansii stands about a meter or more tall and where hundreds of individuals grow together their abundance of light, lilac inflorescences cover the mountainside like a gigantic pink blanket.

It is named after Marc Stalmans who recognised it as a new species in 1994 while doing an ecological survey of Songimvelo Nature Reserve and it was then described by Alan J Paton and Kevin Balkwill in 2001.  Its range is restricted and it occurs on the mountains between Barberton and Swaziland where it is also recorded from Malolotja Nature Reserve. With a National Red list rating of rare, it means this show stopper is not exposed to any direct or potential threats as most of the populations occur in nature reserves.

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