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When having a look at the fynbos of Grootbos, one needs to take a big step back to truly appreciate the perfect symbiosis of natural conditions which has given birth to the variety of flora (and fauna for that matter) found here. The combination of Table Mountain Sandstone, rising sea levels over the millennia, the culmination of rich ocean air carried over the Agulhas Plain from where the warm Indian and cold Atlantic oceans meet, the moderate climate with its winter rainfall and the elevation caused by continents colliding has resulted in an utterly one-of-a-kind vegetation which has been millions of years in the making.
And today, we can finally look upon the intricately evolved species sculpted by the hand of nature itself. From the hardy vegetation adapted to the nutrient-poor soils to the endemic bird beaks evolved to reach into the long tubes of the flowers to gather its sweet nectar, this landscape holds much more than the eye can see.
Those who first visited the area with a knowledgeable eye, realized the area’s rich potential as well and decided that a closer look at what this landscape is holding would be necessary. An extensive survey was done in 1997 which included 50 plots of 5 x 10m to include all the obvious habitats of Grootbos. And although they were hopeful, they were not nearly expecting the results they got.
Located within the Cape Floral Kingdom (the smallest of the 6 floral kingdoms of the world), it was found that Grootbos is home to 765 of the roughly 9000 species found within the region. Among these species found on the Reserve 410 species are on the Red Data List as threatened, 6 were completely new to science and 4 of these are only known to be found on Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. As such, we would like to introduce you to the 6 unique fynbos species of Grootbos, here are the first two:
Erica magnisylvae (Grootbos erica)
The Erica magnisylvae, commonly known as the Grootbos Erica, was first found by Sean Privett on the Reserve in 1997. As it was discovered on Grootbos, it was named as such, magnisylvae - of the large forest in classical Latin. This species has thus far only been recorded on the Reserve with an outlying population to the southeast on the slopes above Platbos Forest. It is mainly found in deep, wind-blown brownish grey sand overlying calcrete deposits with sandstone intrusions. The species can be identified as an erect, non-sprouting shrub with closely packed leaves typical of the Erica and small, white flowers which are wind-pollinated.
This species was first discovered on the Reserve by Anna Fellingham in 1996 in the Overberg dune strandveld vegetation. There are only 4 populations documented, all near or on the Reserve with only the one on Grootbos being protected. This plant is often mistaken for a member of the Anthospermum genus, hence its name anthospermoides. The species grows mainly in sandy, alkaline soils on slight slopes in the Gansbaai area. The plant can be identified as an erect shrub with reddish young branches and long white hairs which turns greyish brown and smooth as they age. As the plant matures, the bark splits and peels leaving a smooth, reddish brown surface. The leaves are bright red and tightly packed on the stem with solitary flowers on the axils of the leaves. Both the male and female flowers grow on the same plant with the male flowers and their maroon stamens and the female flowers with their red styles appearing at different times.
To view and learn more about these species and the Grootbos Reserve, book your stay with us today! Every Grootbos Stay includes a 4x4 Flower Safari and Horse Riding experience as well as the chance to follow the walking and hiking trails through the Reserve to get up close and personal to the fascinating world of fynbos on Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
Next we’ll be having a look at the remaining 4 species in Unique Fynbos Species of Grootbos (Part 2).