Pretoria, South Africa
By Jacques Gerber - Click images to
I'm based at the University of Pretoria, in South Africa.
I'm currently in the second year of my PhD in Botany, my field
being wetland ecology. I moved to Pretoria from Rhodes University
in Grahamstown where I had studied previously, completing an
MSc degree in Botany (sugarcane physiology and anatomy). This
makes for a massive jump for me. I'm doing an overview of wetlands,
specifically vleis and pans, in the grassland biome in South
Africa. Wetlands tend to be very neglected here. Botanists really
don't seem to like getting their feet wet.
wall and surroundings, open water, marshy area at the
inlet, and areas of grassland when the water level drops. The
dam itself is especially known for its unusually warm climate,
good fishing and amazing aquatic vegetation.
Map courtesy of CIA World
Factbook 2002 - South Africa
I've always been interested in aquaria and ponds, especially
the plants. Waterlilies are my favorites, my all-time favorite
being Nymphaea capensis. I also have a small aquatic garden
- an aquarium set up specifically for plants - and will be adding
another in the new year (2003). I recently convinced the garden
committee at the Department of Botany to replant
the departmental pond, and became much more interested in
waterlilies as a result. I've been in contact with Kit Knotts
for some time now, as well as with Dr. John Wiersema. Hopefully
John and I will be going on a field trip to Botswana next year
(2003) to collect the elusive Nymphaea petersiana.
In late November 2002, I organized a collecting trip to Rust
de Winter Dam, well known for birding because of varied habitats
which include broadleaved woodland, rocky woodland slopes, alluvial
Acacia veld, mixed woodland, riverine forest, the dam
The Botany Department Pond | The
Pond's Progress January 2003
A colleague went with me, spending the day fishing. He was
supposed to warn me if the crocs got too close - but I pointed
them out to him. I'd been given a list of what to collect and
where to collect, but N. lotus and N. caerulea
were on top of the list for me. I collected a beautiful N.
caerulea but couldn't get near the N. lotus - a croc
was in the way and there was a game fence the other side.
There were some amazing areas of N. caerulea. In one
area it was growing in 1m of water or more, and the dam is 1.2m
lower than it normally is due to the drought. Food for thought
on planting N. caerulea. One plant that I measured had
leaves 52 cm in diameter. Hopefully future trips will also provide
N. lotus and N. petersiana for study in cultivation.
Billy Bates Photo
Sidebar - N. petersiana & N. lotus
Field Trips - Lake
St. Lucia | Arnot
Lucia 2003 - Mfabeni Swamp