South Africa is a flower lovers dream come true. For many years the flora of South Africa has delighted visitors and intrigued botanists. Some species of plants are widely distributed across the country, while others are indigenous to certain locations. Each region of the country has its distinct species of flora. These regions range from arid desert to the subtropical coastal belt.
The Cape Floral Kingdom
Only six places in the world have been designated as floral kingdoms, and the Southwestern Cape of South Africa is one of them. Here, in such protected areas as the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, you can find over 8,500 different plants; all in an area that is less than four percent of the countrys land surface. People come here from all over the world to see the 350 species of protea, as well as ericas, irises, reeds, and pelargoniums. When the flowers are in full bloom, the colours are spectacular.
Go to the arid region called Namaqualand, and you will see some of the most bizarre species of plants South Africa has to offer. Here you can see the kokerboom (quiver tree) and the halfmens (half human) which truly look as though they could be props from an episode of Star Trek. These species have had to adapt to survive in a hostile environment. Nonetheless, you can see this harsh land alive with wild blossoms if you come here in the period from August to October.
Land of Giant Trees
You will find dense evergreen forests in the high rainfall region around the city of Knysna on the long Knysna Lagoon. This is the home of rare hardwoods such as stinkwood and yellowwood. Mature trees here are the tallest in South Africa, some of them reaching heights of 60 meters (195 feet), and having a girth of seven meters (23 feet). On the forest floor there are exotic shrubs, ferns, creepers, and fungi. This is where you will find the wispy old mans beard.
Rare Snow Protea
If you like the bracing air of the mountains of South Africa, and youre here in the spring, youll have the opportunity to see the brief, but vibrantly colourful appearances of sedges and ericas. On Table Mountain, the Erica dichrus provides dense splashes of deep red. On the high peaks of the Cedarberg Range you will find the rare snow protea. Here you will also see the Clanwilliam cedar, which is a protected species.
In the subtropical coastal belt of South Africa you will find brackish swamps and estuaries, and lush plant growth on the shore. Few things are as romantic, or as eerie, as a boat tour through a mangrove swamp. It is like stepping back into the primeval world of a million years ago. Great trees grow on stilt-like roots, and the surface of the water is sometimes carpeted with gorgeous lilies. The water birds, crocodiles, and other wildlife that inhabit these wetlands provide some terrific photo opportunities. A floral tour of South Africa would certainly make a memorable vacation.