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Baviaanskloof Flora

The Baviaanskloof contains a highly diverse flora, since it is located on the convergence of three biodiversity hotspots: the Cape Floristic Region, the Succulent Karoo and the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany hotspot. The Mega Reserve includes more than 9,000 plant species of which 69% are endemic. The area harbours 988 genera (16% endemic) and 173 families of which several are endemic or near-endemic for the Cape Floristic Region. The smaller Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve is renowned as UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its extreme high floristic diversity: it contains 138 families, 570 genera and 1,199 species of plants. This list is still incomplete but nevertheless shows a truly remarkable richness, especially in terms of genera.


In the PRECIS database of SANBI, more than 4,400 species are currently (2012) recorded for the Baviaanskloof. Families which are represented by relatively many species include Asteraceae (about 600 species), Fabaceae (300), Mesembryanthemaceae (> 250), Iridaceae (188), Poaceae (250) and Rutaceae (> 200). Notable is also the high amount of Apocynaceae (> 100). Some of the widespread species-rich genera of the fynbos, like Protea, Erica, Restio, Agathosma and Aspalathus, are also well represented in the Baviaanskloof. The same goes for common Asteraceae genera, like Senecio and Helichrysum, as well as for several succulent genera, like Aloe, Crassula, Mesembryanthemum and Psilocaulon.


The overwhelming flora ranges from the small Kosmosplakkie (Crassula lanceolata) to the tallest tree, the endemic Willowmore or Baviaanskloof Cedar (Widdringtonia schwarzii). Because of the previously described steep gradients over small distances (see the Vegetation section), a Yellowwood Tree (Podocarpus falcatus), a typical tree of the subtropical forest biome, may be found growing next to a Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) or Kloofnoors (Euphorbia grandidens), species typical of dry thicket vegetation. A conspicuous plant species is the Bitter Aloe (Aloe ferox), especially in winter when it flowers. The species has a broad distribution over the Cape. Other striking plants of the BMR are the Lantern Bush (Nymania capensis), the Sweet Thorn (Acacia karroo), dominating savannah-like forests in degraded riverine areas, and the Karoo Shepherd Tree (Boschia oleoides).


Authors: Bart van Eck & John Janssen (2012)




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