The Heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom

The Overberg area is the smallest plant kingdom in the world with the greatest number of different species. Of the nine thousand species, some can be found nowhere else. Unique among the Overberg habitats is the Strandveld Agulhas Plain, significant by international conservation standards due to its rich biodiversity. The Cape Floral Kingdom consists mostly of fynbos and renosterveld. Of the 800 Erica species in the world, more than 80 % grow in the Cape Floral Kingdom.

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Interesting plants in this habitat include the mountain bluebell (Gladiolus bullatus) now under threat, the flame red Bredasdorp lily (Cyrtanthus guthrieae), the granny bonnet (Disperis capensis) and the Cape everlasting (Syncarpha vestita).

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One of the rarest protea is the marsh rose (Orothamnus zeyheri). The Agulhas Plain has rich natural and cultural features. It has a plant biodiversity that is equivalent to a tropical rain forest and many wetlands, which not only contribute to a high diversity of plants and animals, but also attract a host of water birds. The coastline supports a rich marine and intertidal life, and in spring the Southern Right Whales come to mate and calve along the Agulhas coast. On the Agulhas Plains seasonal wetlands occur, often flooded in winter and dry in summer. Restioid fynbos grows here amongst many different reeds. Elim fynbos include many small and endemic proteoid scrubs some of which are threatened. These include the Elim conebush (Leucadendron elimense) the red Elim heath (Erica regia) and the dainty, blue spider orchid (Bartholina burmaniana).

Another interesting local plant is called the Aasbossie (Coleonema album), a member of the buchu family. This bushy scrub with small white flowers was used by the Strandveld fishermen to clean their hands after fishing with well-matured red bait.