New Albums added to this Site
Some changes have been made. There is now a section called Parks and Gardens consisting of Albums on material from five of the country's National Botanical Gardens. New and existing material has been moved here. Hopefully other admired and noteworthy parks and gardens can be added in future. Many photos taken in such institutions have not been moved, in order to keep core coverage on plant species and genera together, as far as possible. The Kruger National Park Album is the first of its kind to be included in this section.
In order to ensure that all items on a plant of interest are accessed, the Search Box should be used to bring together all the pictures of the plant under investigation. Some may be posted under Genera, Habitat, Regions, Parks and Gardens and of course, the conglomerate categories under Types.
The latest genus Albums added to the Operation Wildflower Site are the ones on Gibbaeum, Drosanthemum and Schizochilus. This means that existing photos and stories about plants belonging to these genera already on the Site have been moved from the more general Albums called Mesembs and Orchids into their own new Albums under Genera. The orchid (and many other) photos have generously been made available for use on this Site by Judd Kirkel who has been photographing flowers for many years.
Note that the Acacia Album that appeared under Genera on these southern African trees has been removed, its contents transferred to the newly introduced genera Albums for Senegalia and Vachellia respectively. This is in accordance with official plant name changes accepted at an International Botanical Congress.
General Approach to Posting Material in Albums
There is a genus Album in every case where enough material has been accumulated to warrant a stand-alone grouping of photos and stories. There are now more than 75 such genus Albums. The biggest ones at present show photos of plants belonging to the genera Crassula, Euphorbia, Pelargonium and Aloe. Keep watching, more will be added!
A few species growing in the southern African region, but not in South Africa itself, are included due to local interest. A case in point is Aloe polyphylla from Lesotho. This plant is so well known locally that many South Africans do not recognise it as an exotic. Distribution of many plants straddle national borders where plants find both sides of fences habitable.
In this way succulents from Namibia and Botswana are often also South African citizens by right, i.e. by growing here in nature, not by human intervention. Indigenous plants mostly have citizenship claims from times before the drawing of national borders. Natural vegetation migration is, however, an ongoing process with no regard for arrangements made by humans.
Respect for biodiversity and preservation of life on earth may be better served if the concept of ownership of plant and animal species is revisited. We should regard the issue in similar vein as the education that humanity had undergone when human slavery was abolished; if not in fact, at least in legislation and commonly accepted values.
Albert Schweitzer long ago explored the concept of not harming a plant or animal unless justified by need. Preserving quality life on earth is clearly an issue meriting value driven thinking. Materialism surely does not qualify as the only value in a complex system and the economy should serve human needs, not replace religion, especially as far as the adoration of growth in profits is concerned.
Following a holistic line of thinking, the habitat Albums on this Site warrant the inclusion of just the occasional foreign plant species picture as well. This enhances the exploration of concepts relating to environment and ecology. Or in lighter vein, excessive purism might impoverish the enjoyment of the flower world, taint it with misplaced nationalism. We are amateurs and flexible after all, making our own rules. Nature is undivided, one living thing. Exceptions prove rules in living systems. So rules should remain few and allow for the evolution of thought and practice; as living systems do. But every system retains its appropriately adapting identity, or dies.
Work is still underway on new Albums to cover additional types of habitat as well as more local South African regions.
Plant Rescue by Members where Development replaces Nature
Members of Operation Wildflower have been collecting thousands of indigenous plants belonging to hundreds of species from many sites for around fifty years. A recent example was the basin of the De Hoop Dam where the water level has since reached the overflow, ending that adventure for our members.
The Operation Wildflower Committee is continually searching for new sites where indigenous vegetation is to be destroyed. Negotiations with owners, developers and the relevant authorities are embarked upon wherever they may yield rescue opportunities for our members. Anyone aware of such an opportunity is requested to contact the Chairman of Operation Wildflower at 082 458 0179.
This is a successful plant conservation project that has given many members joyful hours in nature as well as establishing lifelong friendships and beautiful gardens. Why not join and participate in the rescue and garden enhancement weekends facilitated by our Association? If your garden is already nearly full, you may still want to walk in otherwise inaccessible veld covered in beautiful vegetation and pick something small for nurturing in a container.