Minerva Grassland

Chelmsford - Minerva Grassland 1

Gatekeeper: Elaine Kool Email: elainekool@gmail.com

About 20 odd years ago, Gillitts Conservancy, taking note of the many beautiful indigenous species growing there, listed Minerva grassland as a green area worth conserving.  Interested residents living close by,  Marion Andrews, Yolande Hay Buchannan, and Elaine Kool, took on the task of managing it. The first step was to identify as many species as possible and record them into a data base. Owned by the Education Department, the possibility of development was of real concern, so it was necessary to document each find in the fight to preserve it as a valuable grassland habitat.

A portion of the grassland, where the wetland currently exists,  had been used as a soccer field in the past. This severely compacted the land and resulted in the loss of a number of species. However, over the years  a number of plant experts have visited the site and the general consensus is that the  grassland is in a relatively healthy state! We are therefore incredibly lucky to have this gem on our doorstep.

Often in the early evenings a number of animal species have been seen: duiker and silver backed mongoose, for example, as well as a wide variety of other animals and birds. In 2006, two weeks after a controlled burn, a systematic count of plant species began. The count continued over a 3 month period to take account of species flowering at later times, and over 100 different species were documented with at least 4 listed as rare at the time. These burns occur every few years to prevent the grasses from becoming moribund. Grassland flower species (forbs) are also genetically disposed to respond to a fire regime which helps to rejuvenate them. Soon after a burn, the grassland flower displays are absolutely stunning to see. During each burn only small sections  are burnt  at a time to allow wildlife residents to find refuge in the unburned areas.

We have a constant battle with alien weeds, usually exacerbated by local residents who do not clear the invasive weeds from their gardens, resulting in the seeds spreading via wind, birds and animal species.

The seasonal wetland within Minerva grassland is a water feeder to the Ashley Drive dam, connecting all of the green areas of Gillitts, making it an imperative that all of these areas are looked after, and that all residents keep their gardens as weed and poison free as possible.   In the past, a few locals have kindly loaned their gardeners to take out the weeds from time to time.

There have been a few dumping incidents, either in the form of building rubble from home building or from unscrupulous garden services dumping a load – PLEASE DO NOT BE ONE OF THEM! On one occasion, a landscaper was seen loading a couple of cabbage trees and a few bulbs onto his bakkie: totally illegal of course and liable for prosecution!

The larger tree species are cut down as they germinate. This is to ensure the area remains as a healthy grassland rather than progressing into the woodland and forest stages.

Minerva Grassland has enhanced people’s lives,  acting as all grassland do, as much needed green lungs, cleaning our air and water. This small patch, with its well maintained pathway, also affords anyone the leisure time to walk with families, friends and with their dogs.

The plant list below was put together after the 2006 burn and was made available courtesy of Elaine Kool. Images of the various species will be added when they become available, so keep popping back for updates.


1. Acalypha
2. Adhatoda Andromeda
3. Albuca [2 different species]
4. Androcymbium striatum
5. Anthericum cooperi
6. Argyrolobium [a few different ones]
7. Aristea ecklonii
8. Asparagus macowanii
9. Aster bakerianus
10. Becium obovatum
11. Berkheya insignis [rare]
12. Berkheya speciosa
13. Berkheya umbellata
14. Boophane disticha
15. Brunsvigia grandiflora [Feb]
16. Brunsvigia nudifolium
17. Callilepis laureola
18. Cephalaria acraeum
19. Cephalaria pungens
20. Clerodendrum hirsutum
21. Corycium nigrescens [5th Nov]
22. Crotalaria dura
23. Cyanotis speciosa [05/10]
24. Cycnium sp
25. Dierama argyreum
26. Dipcadi viride
27. Eriosema umtamvunense
28. Eulophia ovalis
29. Euphorbia natalensis
30. Euphorbia trichadenia
31. Geranium diclis
32. Geranium wakkerstroomianum
33. Gerbera ambigua
34. Gerbera piloselloides [rare]
35. Gladiolus longicollis
36. Gnidia sp
37. Gomphorcarpus physocarpus
38. Helichrysum griseum
39. Helichrysum panduratum
40. Helichrysum panduratum [21st Nov]
41. Helichrysum ruderale
42. Heliophila rigidiuscula [17th Nov]
43. Hibiscus sp
44. Hypericum sp [not sure]
45. Hypoxis acuminate
46. Hypoxis angustifolia
47. Hypoxis colchicifolia
48. Hypoxis costata
49. Hypoxis rigidula
50. Ipomoea spp
51. Kohautia amatymbica
52. Ledebouria zebrine/floribunda [2 species ]
53. Leucas glabrata
54. Lobelia
55. Lobelia pteropoda [22nd Oct]
56. Lotononis corymbosa
57. Miraglossum pulchellum
58. Moraea [not sure, very dainty cream colour] Nov
59. Moraea ericoides
60. Moraea spathulata
61. Nemesia denticulate [11/09]
62. Ornithogalum
63. Ornithogalum iridifolia
64. Oxalis semiloba
65. Pelargonium alchemilloides
66. Pelargonium schlechteri
67. Pelargonium schlechteri/and or luridum
68. Pentanisia prunelloides
69. Pseudarthria hookeri
70. Raphionacme galpinii
71. Raphionacme hirsute [rare]
72. Rhus discolour
73. Rhynchosia villosa [09-14th Oct]
74. Scabiosa [white]
75. Scadoxus puniceus
76. Scilla natalensis
77. Sebaea sedoides [Not sure]
78. Senecio discodregeanus [18/09]
79. Senecio erubescens
80. Senecio oxyriifolius
81. Senecio oxyriifolius
82. Senecio speciosus
83. Silene burchelli [gunpowder plant]
84. Silver Vernonia
85. Solanum duplo- sinuatum [ or aculeatissimum]
86. Solanum nodiflorum
87. Striga
88. Thunbergia dregeana
89. Thunbergia atriplicifolia
90. Trochomeria sagittata
91. Tulbaghia acutiloba [04/10]
92. Vigna frutescens
93. Watsonia densiflorus
94. Xysmalobium undulatum
95. Zornia capensis

1. Aristida junciformis
2. Eragrostis ciliaris
3. Eragrostis capensis
4. Eragrostis curvula
5. Harpochloa falx
6. Melinis spp. (probably repens and nerviglumis)
7. Monocymbium ceresiiforme
8. Panicum coloratum
9. Panicum ecklonii
10. Panicum spp.
11. Paspalum scrobiculatum,
12. Setaria sphacelata,
13. Sporobolus fimbriatus
14. Tristachya leucothrix

1. Cyperus polystachyos (previously Pycreus)


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