Map of the Fynbos biome

Fynbos biome (yellow)  from Palmer and Ainslee.

Wildflowers - Bushman's Kloof


Protea - Kirstenbosch Gardens


Rooibos - Bushman's Kloof


Wildflowers - Bushman's Kloof

Your enjoyment of the Cape will be enhanced by an understanding of the uniqueness of the flora of this beautiful area.   Of the world's six floral kingdoms, the Cape Floral kingdom is the smallest, but the most diverse for its size.

Some plants from the Kingdom are famous, including the magnificently flowering Protea and the Rooibos, the leaves of which are used in the now well-known herbal tea, Rooibos tea - the "bush tea" famously imbibed by Alexander McCall Smith's heroin Precious Ramotswe.

The Cape Floral Kingdom lies entirely within South Africa. While it occupies less than 6% of South Africa, the kingdom comprises 1/3  of the plant species in Southern  Africa. With less than 1% of land surface of the globe, it contains 10% of all plant species in the world.  Of the estimated 9000 species of plants in the Cape Region,  69% are endemic - found nowhere else on earth. 

The region is characterised by nutrient-poor soils, a Mediterranean climate with winter rains and summer droughts, and regular bush fires that occur naturally every 10 to 15 years. These wildfire are necessary for the regeneration of certain plants in the biome and therefore wildfire management is a crucial part of the conservation plan.

Within the Cape Floral Kingdom - and almost synonymous with it - is the Fynbos Biome but the "biome" refers just to the two key vegetation groups (Fynbos and Renosterveld). Other vegetation types in the Forest, Nama Karoo, Succulent Karoo and Thicket Biomes.

Fynbos and Renosterveld incluces proteas and daisies (the wildflowers that are so colorfully profuse in the Cape when in bloom) as well a geophytes.  Because of the relatively higher soil fertility the herds of large game supported in this area occurred in Renosterveld such as Mountain Zebra, the now extinct Quagga and Bluebuck, Red Hartebeest, Eland, Bontebok, Elephant, Black Rhino and Buffalo along with  Lion, Cheetah, Wild Dog, Spotted Hyena and Leopard. Of these large mammals, only the Mountain Zebra and Leopard survived (by fleeing to the mountains), with the Bontebok just surviving near Bredasdorp. All the other species became extinct in the Fynbos Biome although many have been introduced into conservation areas from outside the region.

The flora continues to be threatened by agricultural and urban expansion as well as by alien vegetation invasion. Private conservation and state-private sector collaborative partnerships are essential for the long-term conservation of much of the regions biodiversity.

Links for more information:

Walker Bay Fynbos Conservatory - a public-private conservation management partnership in the Walker Bay area.

PlantzAfrica - Information on the Fynbos Biome provided by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

Places to see:

North of Cape Town in the Cederberg area - Bushman's KIoof, a luxury resort and reserve and the Cederberg Conservancy

Near or in Cape Town - Table Mountain and Cape Point and the world famous  Kirstenbosch Gardens - each a short drive from Cape Town; Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens located within the Kogelberg Nature Reserve - a two hour drive from Cape Town near in the stunningly beautiful area of Betty's Bay.

Cape Winelands -  Jonkershoek Nature Reserve near Stellenbosch, which includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve; Hottentot Hollands Nature Reserve near Franschoek' and Limietberg Nature Reserve near Paarl.

Overberg and East -  Grootbos, private luxury reserve in the Walkers Bay Fynbos Conservatory; Cape Argulhas National Park at the Southernmost point of Africa; De Hoop Nature Reserve

Protea - Kirstenbosch Gardens                 

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