Pretoria visits Mozambique
Four lucky Pretorians had the opportunity to spend the first week of November 2002 in Maputo, working in LMA herbarium and exploring the area around the city.
Marinda Koekemoer examined herbarium management practices, and made notes on numerous specimens of Asteraceae. Lyn Fish curated the LMA grass collection, and gave a morning’s seminar on grass identification. Stefan Siebert checked herbarium specimen localities and looked for voucher specimens of species recorded on the recent SABONET expedition to the Licuati Forest and Maputo Elephant Reserves south of Maputo Bay. Hugh Glen made notes on specimens of cultivated plants, gave a one-hour seminar on nomenclature, and spent one morning collecting live material of mangroves for Flowering Plants of Africa.
It was interesting, if unsettling, to see how our colleagues used naphthalene to control insects in their collection. They grind mothballs and use a large shaker to scatter the resultant powder on the specimens in such quantity that the specimens look as if they are half buried under malodorous snowdrifts. The effects were all too clear, and we became uncomfortably familiar with specimens, mounting boards, and covers where the naphthalene crystals had burnt holes right through the material from cover to cover.
In delving through the cupboards, I recorded details of 532 specimens of cultivated gymnosperms, Combretaceae, Myrtaceae, and dicots from Casuarina to Senna (possibly about a quarter of the collection). I also came across a specimen of Encephalartos from near Mocuba, which should help settle a difficulty that Johan Hurter drew my attention to; we hope to complete a short paper on this soon. In addition, I photographed some trees for a project being run by Marie Jordaan, and collected fresh material of four species of mangrove from a small island called Xefina Pequena.
It is curious that nobody finished the work they set out to do, despite all having worked hard. Is it possible that someone wants to go back? Is it possible that heaven really is a suburb of Maputo?
Grateful thanks to Mr Calane da Silva for the invitation to visit LMA, Iva Vaz for looking after us, Odete Fumo for being a superb guide to Xefina Pequena island, and of course SABONET, for internship funds that made it possible to go.
SABONET News 8.1: 50