FYNBOS (/ˈfeɪnbɒs/ ; Dutch pronunciation: meaning fine-leaved
plants) is a small belt of natural shrubland or heathland vegetation
located on the
Western Capeof South Africa. This area is
predominantly winter rainfall coastal and mountainous areas with a
Mediterranean climate. The fynbos ecoregion is within the
Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrubbiome . In fields related
to biogeography , fynbos is known for its exceptional degree of
biodiversity and endemism , consisting about 80% (8,500 fynbos)
species of the
Cape floral kingdomwhere nearly 6,000 of them are
endemic. This land has faced severe threats and still does, but due
to the many economic uses conservation efforts are being made to help
* 1 Overview and history
* 2 Cape Floral Kingdom
* 4 Ecoregions
* 5 Economic uses
* 6 Threats and conservation
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 External links
OVERVIEW AND HISTORY
The word FYNBOS is often confusingly said to mean "fine bush" in
Afrikaans, as "bos" means "bush". Typical fynbos foliage is ericoid
rather than fine. The term, in its pre-Afrikaans, Dutch form,
_fynbosch_, was recorded by Noble as being in casual use in the late
19th century. In the early 20th century, John Bews referred to:
"South-Western or Cape Region of Macchia or Fynbosch". He said: "In
this well-known region where the rain occurs in winter and the summers
are more or less dry, the dominant vegetation is of a sclerophyllous
type and there is little or no natural grassland , though there are
many grasses..." He also refers to a high degree of endemism in the
grasses in that region. Elsewhere he speaks of the term as "...applied
by the inhabitants of the Cape to any sort of small woodland growth
that does not include timber trees"; in the current vernacular, this
still is the effective sense of the word. However, in the technical,
ecological sense, the constraints are more demanding. In the latter
half of the 20th century, "fynbos" gained currency as the term for the
"distinctive vegetation of the southwestern Cape".
CAPE FLORAL KINGDOM
The Cape Floral Kingdom (Capensis) is one of only 6 floristic
kingdoms in the world. It is also the smallest and richest per unit of
area. Main article:
Cape Floristic Region
Fynbos– which grows in a 100-to-200-km-wide coastal belt
stretching from Clanwilliam on the West coast to
Port Elizabethon the
Southeast coast – forms part of the
Cape floral kingdom, where it
accounts for half of the surface area and 80% of the plant species.
The fynbos in the western regions is richer and more varied than in
the eastern regions of South Africa.
Of the world's six floral kingdoms , this is the smallest and richest
per unit of area. The
Holarctickingdom, in contrast, incorporates the
whole of the Northern Hemisphere north of the tropics. 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. growing
nowhere else in the world. South Africa's
Western Capehas a level of
botanic diversity that exceeds that of the richest tropical rainforest
in South America, including the Amazon. Of the _Ericas _, over 600
occur in the fynbos kingdom, while only two or three dozen have been
described 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 Mountainin Cape Town
supports 2200 species, more than the entire United Kingdom. Thus,
although the fynbos covers 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 African plant species so far described.
Five main river systems traverse the Cape floral kingdom: the
Oliphants River of the
Western Cape; the
Berg Riverwhich drains the
West Coast Forelands plain stretching from the
Cape Flatsto the
Olifants; the Breede , which is the largest river on the Cape; the
Olifants River (Southern Cape); Gourits and the Groot Rivers which
Little Karoobasin and the South Coast Forelands; and the
Baviaanskloof and Gamtoos Rivers to the east.
Peninsula Shale Fynbos
Peninsula Shale Fynbosflora on Devils Peak ,
Gladiolus alatus_ flowers in Cape fynbos.
The most conspicuous components of the flora are evergreen
sclerophyllous plants, many with ericoid leaves and gracile habit, as
opposed to timber forest. Several plant families are conspicuous in
Proteaceaeare prominent, with genera such as _
Leucospermum_ (the "pincushions"), and _
Leucadendron_ (the silver
tree and "cone bushes "). Proteas are represented by many species and
are prominent in the landscape, generally with large striking flowers,
many of which are pollinated by birds, and others by small mammals.
Most of these do not have anything like ericoid leaves, and nor do
more species of _Erica_ than all other regions combined. They are
popularly called heaths and are generally smaller plants bearing many
small, tubular or globular flowers and ericoid leaves. Restionaceae
also occur in greater variety in fynbos than anywhere else; their
species are superficially grass-like. Many of them grow in wet areas
such as seasonal marshes and spongy basins in the sources of mountain
streams, but others grow in decidedly arid conditions.
Depending on the locality and the aspects under discussion, several
other families have equal claim to being characteristic, including
Iridaceae. More than 1400 bulb species
occur among the fynbos, of which 96 are _
Gladiolus_ and 54
Lachenalia_. Areas that are dominated by "renosterbos",
Elytropappus rhinocerotis_, (Asteraceae) are known as Renosterveld
Afrikaansfor "rhinoceros veld").
The fynbos area has been divided into two very similar ecoregions :
the lowland fynbos (below 300 m above sea level) on the sandy soil of
the west coast, and the montane fynbos of the
Cape Fold Belt.
Lowland fynbos, in this case
Hangklip Sand Fynboson the Cape
Peninsula Montane fynbos, in this case Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos
Renosterveld, in this case Swartland Shale
The LOWLAND FYNBOS AND RENOSTERVELD experiences regular winter
rainfall, especially to the west of
Cape Agulhas. The ecoregion has
been subdivided into 9 areas: the West Coast Forelands from the Cape
Flats to the Olifants River (Western Cape); the Warm Bokkeveld basin
around the town of Ceres ; the Elgin Valley around the town of Elgin ;
the sandy Agulhas Plain on the coast; the
Breede Rivervalley around
the town of Worcester ; the South Coast Forelands from Caledon west to
Mossel Bay; the south-eastern end of the Little Karoo; Langkloof
valley; and the Southeastern Coast Forelands west from
The flora of the lowlands contains a high number of endemic species,
and tends to favour larger plants than those growing on the hillier
areas. They include the larger
Restionaceaesuch as species of _Elegia
Thamnochortus_, and _Willdenowia _ and proteas such as king
Proteacynaroides _) and blushing bride (_Serruria florida
_). Particular types of lowland fynbos include the shrubs and herbs of
the coastal sand dunes, the mixture of ericoids and restoids with
thickets of shrubs such as _
Maytenus_, and other
sideroxylons and other
Sapotaceae, and _
Rhus_ and other
Anacardiaceaeon the coastal sands; the classic fynbos of the
sandplains of the West Coast Forelands, and the Agulhas Plain; the
grassy fynbos of the hillier and wetter areas of the South and
South-Eastern Coast Forelands; areas where fynbos and renosterveld are
mixed; coastal renosterveld on the West and South Coast Forelands; and
the inland renosterveld of the drier inland
Little Karooand Warm
The area is also home to a large number of endemic creatures that
have adapted to life in this area, such as the monkey beetles which
Ixia viridiflora_. Endemic species of fish in the five
river systems occur in the area, too. Endemic reptiles and amphibians
include a number of tortoises and the chameleon-like arum frog
Hyperolius horstockii_). A 360 degree photograph of fynbos in
Groot Winterhoeksection of the Cape Fold Mountains about 18
months after a fire. New plants can be seen in various stages of
growth following the fire. The infertile white soil that fynbos tends
to grow in can also be clearly seen. Click here to see the photograph
in 360 degrees.
The MONTANE FYNBOS AND RENOSTERVELD is the area above 300 m, a total
of 45,000 km2 of the Cape Fold Mountains. The same level of floral
variety, including all three characteristic fynbos families, is found
there, but ericas predominate. Because the higher and wetter areas are
more protected and contain important water sources, the original flora
is more intact than in the lowlands; but agriculture and global
warming are stll threats. The region includes the mountains in the
west from the
Cape Peninsulato the
Kouebokkeveld Mountains, the
south coast hinterland from Elgin to Port Elizabeth, the mountains
north of the
Little Karoofrom Laingsburg to
Willowmore, and the
inselberg hills within the Little Karoo. About half of these areas are
originally fynbos, and about half are renosterveld.
Many different microclimates occur, so the flora changes from west to
east, and also varies with altitude up the hillsides away from the
coast and according to compass direction. Lower elevations are covered
with protea fynbos, with ericas taking over further up. Plant species
include pincushions (_
Leucospermum_). The wildlife includes a number
of endemic bees, beetles, horseflies, and ants, and birds such as Cape
sugarbirds and the orange-breasted sunbird . Many of these birds and
insects are important and specific pollinators for the fynbos, such as
the mountain pride butterfly (_
Aeropetes tulbaghia_) which only
visits red flowers such as _
Disa uniflora_ and pollinates 15
different species. Larger animals include antelopes, particularly Cape
Raphicerus melanotis_), common duiker (_Sylvicapra grimmia
_), and klipspringer (_
Oreotragus oreotragus_). The extinct blue
antelope and quagga were also fynbos natives.
Researchers in a relatively remote stretch of Kogelberg
Rooibos(_Aspalathus linearis_) and honeybush (_Cyclopia intermedia_)
are of economic importance, grown and harvested in large quantities in
Cederbergarea, and providing important exports. Restios continue
to be used for thatching, as they have for hundreds or even thousands
of years. Proteas and other floral species are grown in many areas and
their flowers harvested for export.
In many areas with Mediterranean climates, fynbos species have become
popular garden plants, in particular aloes and geraniums , and in
cooler regions are used as window plants.
A very large number of fynbos plant species are used in traditional
medicine, and while only a tiny proportion have as yet been subjected
to formal testing, many have already been identified as having
medicinal properties. Community conservation group for the
critically endangered remnant of
Lourensford Alluvium Fynbosat
THREATS AND CONSERVATION
The regrowth of fynbos species, from around the trunk of a
fallen invasive pine tree. Cape Town.
The fynbos is the region of South Africa most affected by invasive
alien species which collectively cover around 10% of the entire
country. The most common invasive plants are wattles and hakeas ,
native to Australia, and pines native to Europe and the Californian
coast of the United States. Pines had been introduced to South
Africa by the 19th century and the wattles were imported into the
mid-1870s to stabilize sand dunes . In 1997 it was estimated that
invasion caused the fynbos region to decline in value by US$750
million per year.
The Working for Water (WfW) program was started in 1995 by the
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to control these invasive
species which were shown to sequester 9.95% of usable surface water
runoff. Since then, over 1,000,00 hectares of land have been cleared
of invasive species while providing jobs to around 20,000 people per
year, most of which are women and unskilled workers. Systematic
monitoring of WfW's progress is lacking but there is anecdotal
evidence that endemic silver peas have returned to Table Mountain
after being thought extinct.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ Manning, John (2008). _Field Guide to
Fynbos_. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. ISBN 9781770072657 .
* ^ "Lowland fynbos and renosterveld". _Terrestrial Ecoregions_.
World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Fynbos, South Africa". _panda.org_. Retrieved 15
* ^ Noble, John. Descriptive handbook of the Cape Colony: its
condition and resources Publisher: Juta 1875 it may be downloaded
* ^ Bews, John William. The grasses and grasslands of South Africa
Publisher: Pietermaritzburg, P. David & Sons, Ltd., Printers 1918 May
be downloaded from: https://archive.org/details/grassesgrassland00bews
* ^ "Lowland fynbos and renosterveld". _Terrestrial Ecoregions_.
World Wildlife Fund.
* ^ "Working with fynbos -
Retrieved 15 January 2017.
* ^ "Pig’s ears and buchu brandy: medicinal plants of the fynbos
Table MountainAerial Cableway - Official Website".
_tablemountain.net_. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
* ^ "Commercialization of South African Indigenous Crops: Aspects
of Research and Cultivation of Products". _purdue.edu_. Retrieved 15
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ "STATUS OF INVASIVE TREE SPECIES IN SOUTHERN
AFRICA". _Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations_.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Working for Water Programme". _Department of
Environmental Affairs_. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Balmford, Andrew (2012). _Wild Hope: On the
Front Lines of Conservation Success_. Chicago: The University of
Chicago Press. pp. 67–87. ISBN 978-0-226-03601-4 .
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