The extraordinary fynbos vegetation of the Cape is often mentioned when we talk about Bushmans Kloof or the Twelve Apostles Hotel. But why do locals get so terribly excited about their flora? Beloved South African staple, Rooibos Tea, comes from this group, but that’s just the beginning of a long list of impressive characteristics.
The Cape Floral Kingdom (of which fynbos makes up over 80%) is the smallest of all plant kingdoms and yet has the highest concentration of species in the world. The area sees 1300 plant species per 10000 km2. To put that into perspective, the Amazon rainforest (fynbos’ closest rival) has a concentration of only 400 species per 10000 km2.
Vast numbers of species are endemic to exceptionally small areas. The total world range of some species live in areas smaller than half a football field. Case in point, the 470 km2 of Table Mountain/Cape Point is home to over 2200 plant species. That’s more than are found in the whole of Great Britain, an area 5000 times bigger!
The numbers are certainly remarkable, but it’s the unique character of these herby reeds, heathers, wild flowers and succulents that make them so treasured, and go a long way to define the geography of the area. Famously, fynbos releases tannins into the earth, tinting Cape rivers the colour of tea.
Both Bushmans Kloof Retreat, and the Twelve Apostles Hotel are perfect vantage points to enjoy this singular, fragrant, fragile world, which supports half the frog species of South Africa, as well as innumerable insects, mammals and birds.
Photograph by Cecelia Van Straaten: Fynbos geophyte, the carnivorous Sundew, eats a small insect.