The Botanical Society of South Africa has paid tribute to Jan Vlok from Oudtshoorn, a botanist, ecologist, naturalist and Botanical Society member since the age of 18.
The society presented him with the prestigious BotSoc award, the Marloth Medal. The award was made in recognition of Vlok’s immense contribution to flora conservation by spreading botanical science to civil society in simple language by means of publications, popular articles in newspapers, on radio, television and personal presentations.
Recently Vlok and his wife Dr Anne Lise Schutte-Vlok joined forces to publish Plants of the Klein Karoo which was launched in Oudtshoorn on 27 October. This unique publication brings the flora treasures of the Little Karoo and well beyond into the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life in much the same way as a field trip with Vlok himself. His knowledge of the Cape flora is unpa-ralleled. Not only does he have an astonishing knowledge of species and their locations, but also an extraordinary insight into intra-species variation and its causative factors. Numerous species, and even a genus, have been made known to science through Vlok’s endeavours.
Vlok really enjoys plants, a gift he happily shares with whoever is interested. He maintains knowledge is an unusual commodity in the respect that it is of little value unless it is shared. He considers knowledge as perhaps the only product that increases in value when shared. "Many botanists hold their knowledge about plants close to their chests and only reveal their information via scientific papers. Scientific papers are useful as a founding body to develop scientific understanding, but the content of these papers are limited to a handful of people. Somebody has to bridge the gap between scientific papers and the real world. This is what I have tried to do over the past 20 years - to disseminate useful and interesting botanical information to the man on the street - ideally to those who manage veld."
The Botanical Society of South Africa’s Marloth Medal commemorates Dr Rudolph Marloth (28 December 1855 - 15 May 1931), a pharmacist, analytical chemist and botanist who published extensively on South African flora. His most famous publication Flora of South Africa appeared in six magnificently illustrated volumes between 1913 and 1932.