Marsh Rose Vleiroos - Orothamnus zeyherii
The Marsh Rose is the symbol of conservation awareness. It was early attempts to save this species from extinction that taught conservationists that fire was essential for Fynbos. The Marsh Rose grows rapidly, and tall - plants may stand over 5m high when mature. However, few plants live for more than a 15 years. By this stage, the plants have produced their seeds, exhausted their supplies, and died. The seeds are carried by ants to their nests and stored there, perhaps for 20-60 years. When a fire occurs the seeds germinate. Populations that dwindle to a few plants, can, after a fire suddenly contain thousands of plants. And the cycle begins again. This is the Marsh Rose's strategy for avoiding predation and disease. Although it serves the plant well, it is difficult to appreciate that all those buried seeds and dead adults are part of a very successful life cycle. With its reliance on its seed bank it is essential that the Marsh Rose populations are protected from trampling. Trampling will compact the soil, which may kill the roots of adults and affect seedling survival after a fire. There was a population of Marsh Roses which hikers could visit above Fairy Glen at Kleinmond! However, irresponsible hikers admired it from too close. The population is now extinct. Trampled to death. We need to restore extinct populations. We must also educate those most interested in conservation - YOU!