For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How pineapples grow

The main producing areas of pineapples in South Africa are Northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and, on a smaller scale, the Northern Province. It is one of the most important subtropical crops cultivated in the country.

As it is indigenous to the tropics, the crop requires areas where the climate is warm, humid and free from extreme temperatures (25 °C being optimal). These areas have a great potential for pineapple production.
There are 5 major pineapple groups grown throughout the world. Two of these, Cayenne and Queen, are widely cultivated in South Africa.

Planting is done by hand, with or without the aid of a planting machine. Use of the latter results in uniform, neat plantations.
Harvesting should be done 7 to 14 days after yellowing. It is labour intensive because workers walk in the space between ridges to pick the fruit by hand, loading it into baskets, or onto a boom harvester.

After harvesting the crowns are broken off (not twisted) and left on top of the plants in the field or are placed in bags to be collected at a later date for planting.
Pineapples are extremely easy to grow if you live in a warm climate. Break off the top and ensure the bottom is immersed in the water of a glass bottle. Soon shoots like this will start to sprout. When they fill the jar, take it out and plant it in the garden. The trick is not to let them dry out while still in the bottle.

This is a red pineapple Ananas bracteatus and actually belongs to the Bromeliaceae (Bromelaid) family.
It gets these beautiful red pineapples on it but they are not edible.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A trip to the Eastern Transvaal

The Panorama, which abounds with breathtaking views from natural wonders along the eastern slopes of the escarpment. There is God's Window and the world's third largest canyon and biggest green canyon, the Blyde River Canyon. There are also the astonishing Bourke's Luck Potholes and three rondawels. The towns of Lydenburg and White River are gateways to the route, which takes visitors through the quaint towns of Pilgrim's Rest, a living museum dating back to the hey days of the gold rush, as well as Sabie, Graskop, Ohrigstad and Hazyview. Nature enthusiasts will discover cascading water falls while adrenaline junkies can get their next rush by bungee jumping, white water rafting or going on rigorous 4x4 trails. More gentler pursuits include hot air ballooning, walking trails and gold panning. Much of the pine forests which abound in the area between Sabie and Graskop was destroyed by fires in early August. Four weeks later, some fires are still burning and the sky is hazy with smoke. This area is a hikers paradise.

Starting off the trip from Pretoria, it is very flat farming country which we call the Highveld.
After 5 hours drive this gives way to slightly more hilly sections and the mountains can be seen in the distance.
Once in the mountains, the scenery is breathtaking. This was taken at a place called God's Window and on a clear day, one can see as far as Mozambique.
Ninety percent of the area is covered in pine forests.
The mountain tops are nature reserves and are vast sub-tropical forests with many streams and waterfalls in the area.
Logging roads can be seen below, but the company is careful to hide most of the logging by leaving the front few rows of tree standing.
Way down below, there is a small stream wandering through and if you have the energy, you can hike down to it.
This is Pinnicle Rock but the tip of it fell down about 14-15 years ago.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Roses 2

Roses come in all the most beautiful colors of the rainbow....