Grasses Weekend 17th – 19th February 2017

LECTURER: Prof. Mary Scholes

VENUE: BORAKALALO NATURE RESERVE

THE JOURNEY TO THE VENUE

It was quite a bumpy ride as the road to Borakalalo is full of potholes, but we all arrived in time for some test revision and pitching of our tents.

ECOLOGY AND TAXANONMY TEST

The students sat for a test on Ecology and Taxonomy in the evening of the 17th February 2017. The test was standardised with various levels of cognitive development.

BACK AT THE CAMP

The students and Honorary officers, Maria Cazzavillan, Phil Hill , Francois Swart and Peter Gordon-Cumming headed back to the camp. Security measures were explained to the students and some students sat around the fire. Phil emphasised the importance of working together as a team as the course is all about working together.

THE GRASSES LECTURE ( 18/02/2017)

The most brilliant Prof Mary Scholes gave a lecture on grasses. She made the module content simple and comprehensive to all. The grasses evolution was explained in vivid details. I am sure everyone is looking at the grasses with a different eye now that we are better informed.

The eras of existence and the importance of grasses in the ecosystem was explained by Prof. Mary Scholes. Next she requested the students to gather in their assignment groups for picking of various types of grasses and their identifications. The groups were given magnifying lenses (loupes) to scrutinise the grass seeds (around the inflorescence). The grasses book was used to help with the identification and naming of grasses.  The book provided the picture, the genus name and the common names.

There were breaks in between the practical and the lectures. The lecture ended in the afternoon.

Students got together in the evening for braai and socializing.

Professor Mary Scholes continued the grasses lecture the next day. She shared the technique for grass identification. She explained to the group that the position of leaves from the Culm, the hairiness of the nodes, the length of the grass and the inflorescence play a big role in identifying grasses.

Everyone went for a Sunday morning walk to the nearby Klipvoor dam. It was refreshing and adventurous. Some unidentified grasses were picked up for identification.

Figure 1 Sunday morning walk to the river.

Prof. Scholes showed the group plants that are confused with grasses, e.g. sedges

The dam was wide and there were grasses all around it.

We all went back to the camp for wrapping up after which everyone departed.

Editors Note: Many thanks to student Marinki Modise for providing us with this report on the grasses weekend, certainly sounds like a fascinating weekend was had by all.

Bushveld Mosaic a course for the curious, fun loving, serious, passionate or career-minded nature enthusiast!

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