People ask me all the time, "why don't you write more about flowers". I am kidding of course because no one has ever asked anyone that question. Nevertheless, this post is about exactly that subject. The next World Heritage Site on the list was the Cape Floristic Region. This was a tough one to visit because it is not really one small place but a very large area which features a giant classification of things (Cape Floral Kingdom). This means that there is not a sign to easily verify my witnessing the Cape Floral Region/Kingdom which I am sure most of you are pretty upset about. The following picture is the only thing I know for certain is a member of the Cape Floral Kingdom. That there is a King Protea which is pretty massive as far as flowers go. It is so very massive and intimidating that it is the name of the South African National Cricket team. But enough cricket, back to the botany!
I should tell you some pretty interesting facts to get you up to speed on why this is considered World Heritage material. Well, Wikipedia can give you interesting facts about just the fynbos which is a part of the entire Cape Floral Kingdom:
Of the world's six floral kingdoms, this is the smallest and richest per area unit. Contrast it in size with the Holarctic kingdom, which incorporates the whole of the northern hemisphere apart from the tropical regions. The diversity of fynbos plants is extremely high, with over 9000 species of plants occurring in the area, around 6200 of which are endemic, i.e. they do not grow anywhere else in the world. This level of variety is comparable to tropical rainforests or large islands and is unique in a relatively dry continental area. Of the Ericas, 600 occur in the fynbos kingdom, while only 26 are found in the rest of the world. This is in an area of 46,000 km² - by comparison, the Netherlands, with an area of 33,000 km², has 1400 species, none of them endemic. Table Mountain in Cape Town supports 2200 species, more than the entire United Kingdom. Thus, although the Fynbos comprises only 6% of the area of southern Africa, it has half the species on the subcontinent – and in fact has almost 1 in 5 of all plant species in Africa.
This picture is a good representation of the fynbos (Afrikans - fine bush). The point is that from afar, it is very underwhelming and it all seems like scrub brush. But in reality, when you get a closer look, a lot of it still is pretty unimpressive but sometimes there are some really cool looking things to look at so drink it in.
I am sorry that I don't know what most of any of these plants are and cannot even say if these are unique to the Cape Floral Kingdom or not. My plant knowledge is pretty sparse and this post has made me realize that I quickly run out of things to say about them. That shouldn't stop any of you though, I encourage you all to go look at some interesting plants and then learn about them. Then if you want you can make a blog post about it and show me how you are supposed to talk about floral kingdoms.
I wouldn't say that the Cape Floral Kingdom is the most interesting part of South Africa but it makes the top 20 I'd say. In any case, it was a pleasure to stop and smell the fynbos for a while.