Fynbos

Fynbos, which can be found in the West Coast National Park, is a type of vegetation which is dominant in the Cape floristic region.

Although fynbos (literally meaning “fine bush”) takes its an name from the dominant plant communities in the region, it actually comprises of three different vegetation types (including fynbos heathland, renosterveld shrubland and strandveld shrubland).

The Cape floristic region is regarded as a global “hotspot” of biodiversity. The fynbos biome is the smallest of the world’s six floristic kingdoms and the only one within the borders of a single country. There are now 34 such “hotspot areas” in the world. This status is based on the number of endemic species, and the extent of ecological pressure in a certain area.

Although the Cape floristic region occupies less than 4% of the ground surface of Africa south of the Sahara, it supports nearly 44% of the species on the continent. More than two thirds of the species in the fynbos region (including rare proteas, strandveldfynbos and renosterveld) aren’t to be found elsewehere in the world.

The fynbos biome (it extends into the Eastern Cape and parts of the Northern Cape over an area of approximately 90 000 km²) contains some 9 000 plant species, of which two thirds are endemic. This means they are not to be found growing naturally anywhere else in the world.

The collective term fynbos comprises of a large number of species in the protea, restio and heath families which are predominantly found in nutrient poor soil and usually in the winter rainfall region of South Africa.

Veld fires are a key component in the fynbos ecology and most fynbos are adapted to burning (typically every 10 to 25 years).

Several of the flora jewels in the fynbos region have over the years, due to their horticulatural potential, found their way to gardens in other parts of the world.

The fynbos biome, in which the park is situated, is extremely rich in biodiversity. Fynbos has proportionally the richest species diversity of all the biomes in South Africa. The floral wealth of this floristic region relates to the diversity of the landscape as well as climatic conditions in a particular area.

The West Coast National Park is situated in an internationally and nationally identified priority conservation area. Coastal fynbos communities are conserved in the park.

Source: Coastcare, Conservation International; Veldblomgids West Coast of South Africa 7; CapeNature; Field Guide to Wilde Flowers of South Africa.