Herbarium Soutpansbergensis — Foundation

I (Norbert Hahn) regularly spent my childhood holidays with my family on their farm in the Soutpansberg. From the first instance I can duly remember I fell in love with this beautiful Mountain range. In 1988, after an arduous time in Pretoria trying to obtain an academic qualification, I moved to the Soutpansberg. Maybe being genetically impaired or driven by an act of fate I become interested in the flora of the Soutpansberg.

At first I was only updating a tree list of the farm compiled by the Soutpansberg Dendrological Society. From its initial taxon count of 150 it grew rapidly to 250 and to date it stands at approximately 310. I was immediately captivated by the immense dendrological diversity of the farm being 2000 ha with over 300 taxa compared with the Kruger National Parks 380 taxa with in area of 2000000 ha.

During this time started compiling a list of tree species of the Soutpansberg as a whole. David Hardy introduced me to Dr. Hugh Glen who gave me a list of taxa of Venda he compiled for the Tree Society. Out of all this data I realised that nothing had ever been written up on the trees of the Soutpansberg. I then started compiling a taxonomic treatment of the arborescent flora of the Soutpansberg. The taxa treated are also correlated to their related taxa, occurring in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Moçambique and what was known as the Transvaal.

At that stage I was still reluctant to touch a plant press. Firstly, it meant lots of work and secondly, the only place that would identify my specimens was the National Botanical Institute, Pretoria (NBI) and that costs money. Identification, and somebody to help me keep up to date was becoming crucial. One evening, I contacted Fanie Venter at Pietersburg requesting his assistance. We subsequently liased frequently, and have undergone numerous plant collecting excursions.

My life long friend, Karen Marais being a keen Naturalist and artist decided to have me introduced to Prof. Braam van Wyk. When Braam next came to the Soutpansberg, he honoured me with a visit. We discussed many problems including the collecting of plants. Braam told me his herbarium would be willing to identify my specimens. So off I went collecting plants. Initially all my specimens were sent off to the Schweickerdt Herbarium, from were they circled the globe.

I quickly came to realise that this was counter productive in the sense that I had a name, but no direct reference to it! It was therefore essential to keep one of the duplicates myself. In 1990, with the help of Fanie I started building up my own herbarium.

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