South Africa: Farewell to a Fynbos Legend and Great Conservator

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Colleagues have praised Anthony Hitchcock as an 'an active botanical horticulturist, prolific plant gatherer, compulsive seed collector, accomplished gardener, and unstinting mentor'.

The international flora conservation community is mourning the loss of botanist, horticulturist and plant restoration specialist Anthony Hitchcock - widely acclaimed as one of the true fynbos fynmense.

This phrase derives from clever Afrikaans word-play to describe those "fine people" who help protect South Africa's rich biodiversity while also making it work for the economic benefit of communities.

The 60-year-old Hitchcock, who was the Nursery, Living Collections and Threatened Species Manager at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden before taking early retirement in 2019, died on Tuesday 7 July of Covid-19 complications that he contracted while in isolation in a Cape Town hospital receiving chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

A "plantsman" with a very intimate connection with the Earth, Hitchcock spent his professional life steeped in the soil, collecting, growing and rescuing plants and having a special affinity for the restoration of threatened fynbos - particularly plants in the Erica genus with its 840 species. But he was just as happy burrowing deep underground when, particularly in his youth, he'd spent much of his leisure time...

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