It has been 4 years since the first primitive version of the site was uploaded to a free Geocities account. Since then, we have progessed to our own domain name and paid hosting, from static webpages through the increasing use of a scripting language to the current position of a database back-end.
Our content has also grown from a partial checklist of Zimbabwean plants to become much more of an online flora, with descriptions, photographs, keys and the ability to generate distribution maps on the fly.
In that time, the team has grown from a single-handed effort to become a joint Hyde-Wursten collaboration.
Progress to date is as follows:
Clearly, a lot more needs to be done but it has been an exciting journey and we look forward to future developments.
In the early hours (about 00.20 hrs) of Thursday, 23rd February 2006, we had a small earthquake, the first one I've ever experienced. I was half asleep in bed when it occurred, but it was vigorous enough to wake me up.
The house shook, doors rattled. It sounded as if there were very large rats bounding around in the attic or as if someone was trying violently to break in.
We estimate that it lasted about 30 seconds. No visible damage was done either inside or outside the house.
Zimbabwe is not really an earthquake zone but small tremors do occur from time to time, mainly in the Zambezi Valley and sometimes associated with Lake Kariba; this is the first one I've ever noticed.
A friend in Harare who lives on the 5th floor of a block of flats in the Avenues wrote (at 00.50, not long after the event):
Being on the 5th floor during an earthtremor at 12.22 am just now... was interesting. A hairbrush fell off the back of a chair and there was a minor shower of plaster dust, but no damage.
Kariba still stands according ZESA who I rang...
There was a rumbling like thunder (and the lightning in the North seemed too far away to be heard).
It appears that the quake was centered in southern Mozambique and measured 7.5 on the Richter scale.Mark Hyde
Date : Thursday 23 February 2006. Time : about 12.20 a.m.
I had just finished watching "Stepford Wives" and went to the computer to shut down when the glass in the window rattled. "Late for a big truck to go past the house" I thought.
More rattling but very irregular - "What the heck" I thought. o.k. Maybe thieves trying to break in. Do I get cross or run to the other end of the house and lock the door.
More rattling and this time the roof shakes too (Robert tells me he thought that we must have managed to get some very big rats in the roof). Not thieves then. Final thought is this must be the impossible. An earthquake in Zimbabwe. I get up from the computer. Will the power go off? Will the house crack? Is this the apocalypse?
I go through the sitting room noting on the way that the hanging light fitting is swaying slightly, down the passage with more rats in the ceiling, to find Robert standing under a door frame talking to his Dad. He remembered that if the house were to collapse the safest place is under a doorframe which should deflect some of the tiles at least in theory. (Needless to say he doesn't tell us this until afterwards). By this time the shaking and noise has stopped, a very sleepy Mark asks "Was that what I thought it was?" We tell him that we can't think what else it might have been. Was it seismic activity at Kariba, a massive quake this side of the Indian Ocean with a Tsunami on the Mozambique coast or just a small local one. My guess is local, 0.5 magnitude (as small as 0.1 or as large as 1) and we are safe now for another 30 years so I slept easy last night. I remember being asked as a teenager (late 60's or early 70's) if I had felt the earthquake and definitely not having felt it. If this was the same I could easily have slept through it. Not so Mark, who had been dozing off, and was literally shaken into full consciousness, and whose first thought is "what about the house insurance"! He then spent the night, like many others worrying about if there would be any aftershocks.
We do have some excitement in Zim from time to time.
I (MAH) was most grateful to receive an email last week from Dr Costas Zachariades of the ARC in South Africa. It appears that Chromolaena odorata, hitherto not known in Zimbabwe, was collected here, near Chinhoyi, in 1967. This is the first and only record of this species in Zimbabwe. The species page gives full details of this interesting record.
This is a new version of the site, which uses a database to hold the data about each species. After 3 months of work developing the new version it is at last ready to be released.
The new features of the redesigned site are:
This is potentially a major change to the content of the site. Although content is still limited at present, this is being added rapidly.
by Bart Wursten
[Please note that, subsequently, based on advice from Lourens Grobler, it was discovered that the plants found were in fact Disperis concinna which has already been recorded from Zimbabwe.]
Mt Rukotso and World's View may seem unusual destinations for an outing of the Zimbabwe Tree Society. Apart from the occasional Pine or Wattle infestations, trees are conspicuously absent from these areas, dominated by rocky montane grassland and wet seepage zones. This, however, was to be a Tree Society outing with a twist: participants were not intending to look for trees but for orchids. February is the peak-period for terrestrial orchids to flower in vleis and grasslands, which made these locations the ideal target. The bounty was good. In the expert company of Werner Fibeck, nearly 30 species were found, admired, debated and photographed. Among those recorded were a few surprises, such as the endemic and uncommon Cynorkis anisoloba, which was found near the summit of Mt Rukotso (ca 2390m) and a very unusual species of Disperis.
Disperis is a genus of small terrestrial orchids found mainly in Africa, Madagascar and other Indian Ocean Islands. A few species are known from Asia. In Zimbabwe 10 species have been recorded. Most favour shady locations in leaf litter on the forest floor. It was therefore a great surprise to find plants, clearly belonging to this easily distinguished genus, growing in a wet, grassy vlei in full sun. A brief survey located over 20 specimens of the plant in question, which made it easier to sacrifice a few "in the name of science".
The plants are between 12 and 17 cm high. Leaves mostly 3 to 4, alternate along the stem. Most plants had 2 to 4 flowers open and still a few more in bud. The flowers have a distinctly helmet-shaped hood, formed by the dorsal sepal and petals. The lateral sepals are spreading, acuminate, with distinct spurs. 2 rostellum arms are projecting downwards from the hood, somewhat broadened at the apex. The flower colour is cream with a flush of soft pink.
Preliminary investigation has come up with D. cooperi Harv. as the most likely name for these plants. This species has only been recorded from KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga in South Africa, where habitat and altitude are very similar to that of the World's View area. If further research will confirm this, it will be a new record for Zimbabwe, and in fact for the Flora Zambesiaca region.
The following orchids were seen on the Tree Society visit to Nyanga in mid-February 2005.Brownleea galpinii
Today, I (MAH) received a copy of the Flora of Zimbabwe checklist. Comparisons and comments will follow when time permits.
News about the Zimbabwean flora has been scarce lately, but I (MAH) heard a few days ago that the checklist of the Flora of Zimbabwe by Anthony Mapaura and Jonathan Timberlake has recently been published by Sabonet. I haven't yet seen a copy myself, but hope to do so soon. Obviously, this is a very important event in the development of Zimbabwean botany.
We intend to make a detailed comparison between that list and the checklist on this web site in order to resolve any important differences.
The Aloe, Cactus and Succulent Society of Zimbabwe organised a highly successful symposium on the Eastern Highlands at the National Botanic Gardens. Here is some information about the day, including photographs of the venue and some of the speakers.
Volume 5(3), which covers the last part of the interesting (and often difficult) family, Rubiaceae, has appeared.
This part contains treatments of difficult genera such as Pavetta and no doubt there will be much of interest to absorb and understand.
Taxonomic changes will be taken into account in version 1.2 of the Zimbabwe checklist, which is still in preparation.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, have launched a web site containing information compiled from all the Flora Zambesiaca volumes published so far. At present there is a searchable database.
Although I haven't investigated it in detail, it appears to be a major expansion of information which is available on the web about the southern African flora. Of course, species recorded in the other FZ countries (Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and the Caprivi Strip) are also to be found there as well.
Synonymy, descriptions and distribution are available but images and keys are not. Families not treated in FZ are also not included.
About 20 members of the Tree Society gathered on the afternoon of Sunday, February 22nd 2004 to celebrate Bob Drummond's 80th birthday. Tea, cakes and biscuits and wine were served and we sat outside under a shady pergola.
To be strictly accurate, Bob's birthday is not actually until 27th February. A short biography of Bob's early years (up to 1955) was read out by Mark Hyde and after that Tom Muller described some incidents from the subsequent years.
The two pictures show: (1) Bob Drummond (centre) reading from a list of botanists and (2) Bob again with the members in the background.