Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Fairest Cape

Zantedeschia aethiopica, Cape Peninsula

Yesterday we drove from Cape Town down the Cape Peninsula, stopping where we fancied to enjoy the plants and scenery. Fortunately there was no haste, as there is too much to occupy one's attention at the side of the road - mobile botanising is not very satisfactory.

The diversity of plants in the Western Cape is staggering. The Table Mountain National Park, which includes the Cape Peninsula, contains over 2200 species, and this is only a small part of the region of endemism. Among them are many very familiar genera - Erica (Erica plukenetii (?), right), Pelargonium, Protea and Zantedeschia among them, but many are less conspicuous, tucked in amongst the mass of species that collectively make up the fynbos, the shrubland that forms the dominant vegetation type of the Cape (though that is a gross simplification). It is bewilderingly diverse and for every familiar plant there's something one's never heard of - identifications are not easy in the absence of a travelling library.

Here are a few snapshots from a wonderful day.

Dimorphotheca pluvialis

Lampanthus aureus at Good Hope Nursery

Leucadendron sp. on the Cape Peninsula

Adrian in stout Cortez mode, Cape of Good Hope

African Penguin, Simon's Town

Botanical friends (after an excellent dinner); Graham Duncan, JMG, Terry Trinder-Smith

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