Exploring Pigeon Valley: Scientific Research At Pigeon Valley

This Is 90th Article In An Ongoing Series That Highlights The Riches Of Pigeon Valley, Urban Nature Reserve In The Heart Of Glenwood.

Exploring Pigeon Valley: Scientific Research At Pigeon Valley
By Crispin Hemson

The focus of this article is on flowers on scientific research.

We tend to think of nature reserves in terms of both recreation and conservation, but maybe we forget that conservation in particular rests on scientific research. Part of the value that Pigeon Valley delivers is that it is one of the very few places where we can find plants and trees from the original Stella Bush that covered this part of the Berea, or their descendants.

It is also a concentration of biodiversity. In this 10 hectare patch of land are found roughly 112 locally indigenous species, one of which has yet to be formally identified (for comparison’s sake, there are about 33 tree species indigenous to the British Isles). What I find most remarkable, though, is how some of these species do not appear elsewhere along the Berea, or even over the road, unless they have been cultivated.

While trees produce shade and beauty, there are other important connections, not least to traditional medicine. Just this week, I was able to show a doctoral student from the University of Johannesburg, Lloyd Mhlongo, the areas where Richard Boon had directed us to, so we could locate two little-known medicinal species, Vangueria randii subsp. Chartacea (Coastal Wild-Medlar) and Pachystigma bowkeri (Forest Wild-Medlar).

Richard, who wrote the current field guide to trees of the Eastern parts of South Africa, is in Melbourne, Australia, but thanks to technology was able to provide immediate assistance. In the process, of course, I not only learnt more from both Richard and Lloyd but also got to feel part of the network of people that gets to sustain good science.

Crispin Hemson chairs the Friends of Pigeon Valley, a group that undertakes clearing of alien plants, keeps records of bird and mammal sightings and alerts management to any problems.

This news was originally published at Berea Mail

Leave a Reply