Nigramoep, a Pelargonium heaven
The high-lying sandstone plateau (“T’Kau” in Nama language) of Nigramoep shows one of the most extraordinary diversity of Pelargonium species found anywhere in Namaqualand. Some 18 species have been recorded so far during my visits since 2015, and are displayed in this photograph gallery. More species are expected to join that list soon.
This richness is partly due to the diversity of habitats found on Nigramoep (differences in geology, altitude, aspect, vegetation type) as well as to the fact that most of the farm has not been grazed by non-indigenous animals in the past 5 years, which helped maintain a relatively healthy vegetation.
Pelargonium sp. nov. nigramoepense n.n. : a flagship for the flora of Nigramoep
Even more exciting is the fact that Nigramoep is home to an undescribed, (so far) endemic and stunningly beautiful Pelargonium species : Pelargonium nigramoepense n.n. (to be described in 2019 – belongs to the section Hoarea).
This plant was found during a walk in august 2017 with my asssistants Zoé Tourrain and Bernardo Toledo-Gonzales.
In winter only the odd-looking leaf of Pelargonium nigramoepense n.n. can be seen. When the leaf has dried up in October, the inflorescence comes magically out of the ground to offer dozens of flowers to its pollinator : a fuzzy long-tongued fly, which carries the pollen between its eyes due to the odd shape of the flower’s male parts (anthers).
Pictures of Pelargonium nigramoepense n.n. will be displayed after official description.
Text by Florent Grenier – botanical explorer of Namaqualand and PhD candidate specializing on pollination by long-tongued flies.