The Cape Floral Kingdom

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Tour an entire floral kingdom on foot to explore the world’s hottest hot-spot for biodiversity and endemism.

Cape Floral Kingdom

Don’t wear shorts, tie your shoe laces tight, and make sure your boots have plenty of leather or other protective coverings for walking on the Rim of Africa—because you’ll be trekking as deep as it gets into the Cape Floral Kingdom—and its not always a cake-walk, to put it lightly.

With bush scratching your skin, midday sun baking the air, and sandy soil underfoot, you’re getting to know the Cape Floral Kingdom in the most intimate of experiences. The flowers, shrubs, and forests require you to come in close to see them, and when you’re bundu-bashing your way there, here’s what you need to remember…

“World’s hottest hot-spot for plant diversity and endemism ” 

  • Within 78,555 square kilometers*, there are
  • over 9,000 species* of vascular plants,
  • in which 69%  are endemic*.
  • Globally, it contains an estimated 3% of all plant species* described by science, within .022% of land area*.
  • It also generates an estimated R 77 Million ($ 7,712,000) in eco-tourism within South Africa every year.

floral kingdomsOne of Six

Floral Kingdoms are used by biologist to sort plant life into areas based on their geography and similarities of species. As you can see in the map to the left, all other Floral Kingdoms cover vast areas of land and stretch over many different countries. The tiny Cape Floral Kingdom stands out, being the only kingdom contained within one country.

In 2004, UNESCO declared the Cape Floral Kingdom a world heritage site for its “outstanding universal significance to humanity”, describing it as “one of the richest areas for plants in the world”.

cape-floral-kingdom

5 Parts of the Cape Fold Kingdom

Cape_habitat_typesThere are five vegetation biomes found in the Cape Floral Kingdom, including:

  • Fynbos — “fine bush” characterized by a diverse richness of endemic plant species growing on nutrient-poor soil. Many of the plants are shrubs with small, hard leaves. Fynbos makes up about 80% of the Cape Floral Kingdom’s species and covers about 50% of the land area.
  • Renosterveld — translating to “rhinoceros-field,” the name refers to the rhinoceros that used to be prevalent in the area during Afrikaans settlement, renosterveld is a grassy shrubland dominated by members of the Daisy family and occurs on the foothills and now agriculture land of the near-coastal Western Cape.
  • Succulent Karoo — made of dwarfed shrubs and some of the world’s richest flora of succulent plants.
  • Cape Thicket — dominated by shrubs and small trees and is found on steep slopes, around boulder formations and in ravines.
  • Afromontane Forest — primarily found in gorges or tucked into protective pockets of mountain sides, these forest are all that remain from ancient forest which used to cover the entire region.

Walk the Cape Floral Kingdom

Cape Floral Kingdom Under Threat

1,435 species of the Cape Floral Kingdom are threatened. The challenges for conservationists include threats from agriculture development, climate change, alien/invasive species, and the growth of urban and rural communities.  Agricultural development has significantly decimated renosterveld habitats, with only 4% of original renosterveld remaining and only 2% formally protected.

The combination of ecological significance and conservation stress motivates the Rim of Africa to work for the elevation of conservation statuses of mountain land and encourage people to visit the Cape Floral Kingdom. Their idea is once you walk through the scratchy bush and discover the beauty within the Cape Floral Kingdom, you’ll find value in its wild treasures and support protection efforts.