Towersig Hiking Trail
History of Towersig Hiking Trail
Hendry Fourie, a Grade VII (Standard V) teacher at the Ladismith High School got the idea of creating a hiking trail in the hills above the town. Dave Osborne from Nature Conservation got interested in the plan and they did the planning. Building of the track was started by Hendry and his Grade VII pupils and Dave later send his workers to do the building of the initial western loop of the track. Later Dave and his work team extended the track and the eastern loop and northern section were added at cost of approximately R20 000. The work took several months to complete.
Hendry carted railway sleepers, cement and water up the hill and Dave’s crew built benches at two look-out points, as well as a braai area and tables. The municipality built a bridge and erected signage.
Thereafter a name-giving competition was launched and Joan Rossouw, the Grade IV teacher, won the prize of R50 for her entry – TOWERSIG.
For some years the pupils did the maintenance once a year, but then lost interest. Louise Storm, also a teacher, compiled the booklet identifying about 30 species of plants. The pupils marked the plants by painting rocks yellow with numbers on to enable hikers to identify the plants. Unfortunately these rocks as well as other identification markers all disappeared at some stage. Hendry and Louise hoped that they might find a sponsor for the printing of the booklet, but had no luck. Hendry is of the opinion that this hiking trail was the best thing the school has ever done for the town, as it is used regularly by the locals as well as visitors to the town.
Klein Karoo facts
The area lies in the rain shadow created by two quartzitic sandstone mountain ranges, namely that of the Swartberg mountains(to the north) and the Langeberg mountains (to the south- west).
Ladismith is considered a “biodiversity hotspot” with three plant biomes within its boundaries, namely Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Valley Bushveld.
The Klein Karoo is also known as “Kannaland” which refers to Kanna, the Khoi name for a species of Sceletium, a succulent mesem genus with narcotic properties, which is abundant in this area.
The Klein Karoo has a mild climate. The days are warm and pleasant in winter, even though the Swartberg and Langeberg mountains are occasionally snow-capped. Winter temperatures rarely drop below zero, resulting in occasional mild frost, while average daytime. Temperatures are fairly high, reaching the mid-twenties. During summer, daytime temperatures are high and may occasionally pass the 40 degree mark.
Rainfall averages between 200 and 250 mm year.
Plants are well adapted and water wise.
Please leave just your foot prints on our trail and take home only memories and photos!
Stay on the assigned path at all times to preserve the plants for those who come after you.
The purpose of LACE
This project of laying out the Towersig hiking trail was a “LACE” initiative (LACE – Ladismith Action for Conservation of the Environment)
To provide a framework of co-ordinated (and combined) conservation action in the Ladismith district.
To assist the participating schools by providing funding for projects which have been identified through the SKEEP process.
To ensure learner, educator and community involvement in conservation action in the Ladismith district.
To draw attention to possible community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) projects that could be developed as a means of generating revenue for communities.
A Guide To The Plants Along The Trail
Dicoma spinosa / Karmedik / Macledium spinosum
Rhigozum obovatum / Granaatbos – Karoo Gold
Fossiele / Fossils
Rosenia humilus / Hartebeeskaroo / Ouvroubos / Old Maid’s Bush
Orbiculata / Kirkeiplakkie / Pig’s Ears
Dodonaea viscosa / Ysterbos / Sand Olive
Tulbaghia / Wildeknoffel / Wild garlic
This bulbous plant is abundant on the lower slopes of the mountain and flowers beautifully during March.
Voëlent / Cape mistletoe
This parasitic plant lives on other plants. It is spread by birds that feed on the seed. It is only semi-parasitic because it has its own chlorophyll and can photosynthesize. It is used for asthma, bronchitis and warts.
Protea repens / Suikerbos / Sugarbush
This common protea is rare along this route. The sugarbush is a valuable asset in the wild flower trade. In the past the syrup from the nectar was used as a chest remedy.
Adromischus triflorus / Eendevoet / Pig’s Ears
This beautiful member of the Crassulaceae is abundant along the trail.
Elytropappus rhinocerotis / Renosterbos / Rhinoceros Bush
It is widely used as a medicinal plant. Infusions of the young branches in brandy or wine were used for indigestion, dyspepsia, ulcers and stomach cancer. It was also used for loco disease in sheep. The Rhinoceros Bush also represents the interim vegetation type between fynbos and Succulent Karoo.
Protea laurifolia / Louriersuikerbos / Grey-leaf Sugarbush
This protea is a member of the bearded proteas Flowersheads with outer bracts silky hairy, cream to pink with inner bracts a dense blackish beard.
Ligeen / Lichens
These wonderful plants actually consist of two types of plants that live in symbiosis with each other. They consist of algae (that can photosynthesize and produce oxygen and carbohydrates) and fungi that anchor the lichen on the substrate, namely rocks and dry branches. Lichens are the first pioneer plants to start vegetation where no plants have ever grown. They vary in colour from light green to orange and brown.
Gibbeaum / Volstruistoon / Skilpadkos / Ostrich Toe /Tortoise Food
There are about 18 different species of this family, all bearing yellow flowers.
Aloe ferox / Kaapse Aalwyn / Bitter Aloe
This is the most important succulent in our region because of its size and economic value. The leaves are cut and stacked around a hole in the ground, lined with builder’s plastic. The bitter dark-brown liquid is tapped and used in the manufacturing of various products, e.g. beauty products, purgation medicine, arthritis, eczema, conjunctivitis, hypertension and stress. In the past tar-poles were painted with this juice instead of tar. It had the same protective properties as tar, but was much more eco-friendly.
Eriocephalus ericoides / Kapokbos / Kapok Bush
The name of this small bush is derived from the beautiful cotton-like white and pink flowers. This plant has antispasmodic qualities and was used by the Khoi for stomach-ache.
Gasteria brachyphylla / Beestong / Ox tongue
This plant is a member of a large family found in the succulent region. The plant dies during prolonged droughts.
Rhus pyroides / Taaibos
The Khoi used the sprouts of this large shrub to make their bows and arrows.
Protea nitida / Waboom
This common protea is found on the Swartberg Mountain range. It flowers irregularly throughout the year, but mostly in springtime. It is interesting to note that the trees in the same area do not bloom at the same time, so flowers are present over a longer period of time. Its strong wood was used in the wagon-making industry, hence the name waboom. In the past, the leaves of this species were also used to make ink, the bark was used for tanning leather and the wood was made into wheel rim sections and brake blocks for wagons.
Crassula ruprestis / Konsertinatjies / Sosatiebos / Concertina Bush
It is a beautiful member of the succulent family with lovely pink and white flowers.
Rooigras / Red Grass
This grass-type is considered by botanists to be the single most valuable asset of Africa’s rich plant kingdom, because it is very palatable pasture for a wide variety of game and small stock.
Euclea crispa / Ghwarrie / Guarri
It is the most typical shrub of the Little Karoo vegetation. Its berries were considered a favourite wild fruit in the earlier years. The wood is sought after as firewood and has also been used for inlay work on walking-sticks. Guarri-honey is the whitest and sweetest (it crystallizes in the honeycomb!) Powdered roots were used as medicine for headache and toothache.
Leucodendron salignum / Knoppiesgeelbos / Common Sunshine Conebush
Polygala myrtifolia / Septemberbos
A shrub up to 2m tall that does not sproute after fire. Purple flowers are clustered at the tips of brances. Flower mostly in winter and spring.
Nymania capensis / Klapperbos / Chinese Lantern bush
This is the showcase model of our plant biodiversity! It is a very showy bush with beautiful pink-red lantern-like flowers and a cluster of pink seeds that hang from the tree. The beautiful yellow wood used to be popular for shepherds’ walking-sticks.
Portulacaria afra / Spekboom / Bacon tree
Shrub or small tree op to 3m tall. Pink flowers mostly in early summer. Dominant shrub in Spekboomveld from the Klein Karoo to Mpumalanga. Has become a popular plant because of the ability to absorb CO2 24 hours a day. Although slightly acidic, the fleshy leaves can be eaten raw when hungry or thirsty. Valued as stock feed.
Bryophyte / Mos / Mosses
These tiny bryophytes grow in damp conditions on rocks and under bushes. The leaves are only one layer tick and have no protective waxy layer. Yet they have the amazing ability to survive drought by rolling up their leaves to reduce dehydration. These plants can truly be regarded as unique pioneer plants.
Brunsvigia bosmaniae / Maartblom / March lily
This beautiful bulbous plant flowers during March, when the plant has no leaves. The only part visible above ground is the flower.
Carissa haematocarpa / Noem Noem / Num Num
Evergreen shrub up to 2m tall. Scented white flowers in summer and autumn. Purple berries were eaten to quench thirst.
Geomorphology – Boulders and Rocks
The geomorphology of the region consists mainly of cretaceous conglomerates. Sandstone is very noticeable along the hiking trail with white quartz in them. Quartz is a gemstone that is formed under high pressure and temperatures. It is actually molten sand and the different colours of the quartz are due to the minerals found in the soil.
Elyonurus / Suurgras/ Sour grass
Heiriet / Dekriet /Thatching Reed
It is a member of the Fynbos biome. It has an economic value as thatch.
Crassula pubescens / Plakkie / Pig’s Ears, Small red plakkie
These small but eye catching succulents are widely distributed along the hiking trail.They have long-stemmed, bell-shaped flowers in a variety of colours that come to full bloom in spring.