New Albums and some changes
The latest genera Albums added to the Operation Wildflower Site are the ones on Gazania, the Addo Elephant National Park and Dioscorea. This means that photos and stories about plants belonging to these genera and from that Park already on the Site have been moved (together with the new input warranting a separate Album), from the more general Albums called Herbs, Succulents, Shrubs and other Albums into their own new Albums under Genera and Parks and Gardens respectively.
Orchid, succulent (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. Mercia Komen who was Webmaster from the start has handed that job over to Duncan Heath after ten years of outstanding work.
In order to access all items on a plant of interest, the Search Box should be used. Most photos and stories on a particular plant are likely to be posted under Genera, or if there are only few of them, in the conglomerate categories under Types. Habitat, Regions or Parks and Gardens may also contain some material on a species searched for, showing in the list generated when using the Search Box.
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 120 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, as well as interest abroad in southern African flora. 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. So, let the plants live where they are in the veld as much as possible.
Following an holistic line of thinking, the habitat Albums on this Site warrant the inclusion of 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. Nature is undivided, one living thing.
As amateurs we are diverse and flexible in our plant interests, making our own rules. 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.
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 over sixty years.
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 plant conservation project 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 interesting vegetation and pick something small for nurturing in a container.
Only members in good standing and who agree to comply with all requirements are eligible to participate. To this end every member will apply formally to participate in a collection, submit information including ID, vehicle registration and contact details, apart from signing an undertaking to comply with all the rules agreed to between Operation Wildflower and the relevant authority, devloper or land owner.
The strict control is necessary for reasons of minimum of disruption of nature and preserving biodiversity as entrenched in legislation, meeting the requirements of outside parties like developers involved in a collection, protecting the interests of private land owners, ensuring the best interests of local communities, ensuring the safety of all concerned during the actual collection activities and protecting the good standing of Operation Wildflower with regard to all actions and the diverse stakeholders relating to this and the organization's other operations.
No plant collected from here (or any Operation Wildflower exercise) may ever be sold. Members may only plant them on their own properties. There are, however, no restrictions as far as the use of seeds collected from rescued plants are concerned: Plants grown at home from the seeds of collected plants are not deemed to be affected by any restrictions from Operation Wildflower.