The Curious Case of Lotononis prostrata

Lotononis prostrata

In 2022, a botanist conducted a Biodiversity and Sustainabilty assessment of our Buchu plantation which is embedded in Fynbos vegetation on Waterkloof Farm. Part of the assessment was a transect to observe number and types of species on a portion of the farm. We discovered that Waterkloof is home to some special plants – one of them having the IUCN status of being “Near Threatened”.

Lotononis prostrata (L.) Benth

National Status
Status and CriteriaNear Threatened A2c
Assessment Date2007/12/13
Assessor(s)N.A. Helme & D. Raimondo
JustificationMore than 80% of this species’ habitat has been transformed over the past 100 years and is now highly fragmented by agriculture and urban development. A population reduction of 25% is estimated based on habitat loss over the past 30 years (generation length ± 10 years) and the population is still declining as a result of overgrazing by livestock, lack of fire and alien plant invasion.

Since then we have been looking out for this little treasure on all our walks. So far we have been able to locate 3 spots where the plant occurs on the farm.

As the weeks went by, one particular aspect of the locations struck us: in all three locations, Lotononis occurs not very far away from where our springs can be found, but more importantly, the plants were growing in the roads and paths or very close to it. In the more dense bush and shrub away from the paths, there were few or no more specimens to be found.

We began to wonder whether the occurrence of the plant was also linked to our human presence and influence as these paths are usually kept quite clear of other vegetation. This was very recently confirmed when we discovered a whole lot more young plants of the species in an area where we had cleared a little used farm road for purposes of a fire break. Here we can see how the pruning of other plants, being competitors for light and water, has increased the preferred habitat.

As a next step, we will conduct a little count and see how this population is doing – shrinking or further expanding – and keep monitoring it going forward. We are delighted to have found a way to increase the population of Lotononis prostrata on our farm and thus make a small contribution to the survival of the species.

Lotononis prostrata spreading out