by Melanie Baumeister

Picture: The stunning view of Sedgefield from Cloud 9, kind courtesy of Conrad Ball.

Such is the beauty of Sedgefield at the moment, it is more than understandable that the ever-popular Country Life magazine has selected our village as ‘Town of the Month’, with no less than six pages of their June edition dedicated to showing us off.
Whilst everyone knows our town is beautiful all year round, it is even more so now. Indeed, since the turn of the season from Summer to Autumn (and soon Winter), many have remarked and appreciated the abundant display of Mother Nature’s decoration on our lagoon. The magnificent vibrant crimson, vermillion and red on the banks of the estuary of Swartvlei have caused many to pause and wonder at the origin, of this new beauty that has graced our shores.
The plant is Salicornia meyeriana Moss, more commonly known as Samphyre or Glasswort. It is a member of the succulent family and the species grows annually in estuaries from Namaqualand to Madagascar. It grows abundantly when there is a higher concentration of salt in the water, so when the mouth is open and the tide washes over it, it draws the saline up and displays its brilliant sunset hues.
Unfortunately, it will die back as the mouth closes naturally and fresh water levels increase.
There is anecdotal evidence that the young plants are edible, though as they become more ‘stick-like’ and go to seed they lose these apparently tasty qualities. In Spring they will turn to their more familiar green colour and the evidence of the fiery display will be a thing of the past.
Thanks to Dr. Mandy Lombard and Jonathan Britton (SANParks) for kindly assisting with information for this article.