Climbers Friend on Table Mountain
Many people whilst walking on Table Mountain find themselves brushing against a low green shrub that they soon discover is covered in vicious prickles.
It doesn’t do any real damage but is definitely noteworthy to go a bit more carefully past the next bush you see.
The scientific name for this plant is Cliffortia Ruscifolia. Its more common name though is “climbers friend” It is found all over Table Mountain both lining the paths in good deep soil and on many inhospitable ledges seemingly growing out of the rock itself. On first hearing its name it is easy to assume that it is some form of sarcastic joke. I can imagine a climber clambering onto a tiny ledge but on grasping a prickle being forced to lose his grip and tumbling off. But in fact, this plant truly is a climbers friend and is used by all sorts of hikers, climbers and scramblers all over the mountain.
This is due to its strong roots that are very firmly embedded in the soil or rock. I often use a handy branch or truck of a climbers friend to haul myself up and over some obstacle. You do have to avoid the prickles but this is usually fairly easily done.