Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Biomes at Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve

Fynbos Flowers: (The Fynbos Hub. 2011)
Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve stretches over 2200 hectares and embraces two of the natural biomes which occur in South Africa, Fynbos and Forest: Fynbos, meaning 'fine bush' in Afrikaans, is the natural shrubland or heathland vegetation occurring in a small belt of the Western Cape of South Africa, mainly in winter rainfall coastal and mountainous areas with a Mediterranean climate. The name refers to the fine, needle-like leaves of many fynbos species, the majority of which are evergreen sclerophyll (hard-leaf) plants.
Three of the characteristic fynbos plant families are proteas, ericas and restios. Proteas are represented by many species and are prominent in the landscape as one of the few large-leaf plant types, generally with large striking flowers which may be pollinated by birds. Ericas or heaths are generally smaller plants with many small, tubular flowers and needle-like leaves. The grass-like restios - only a few species of which are known outside the fynbos area - grow in wetter areas. More than 1400 bulb species occur among the fynbos, of which 96 are gladiolus and 54 lachenalias. Fire is a necessary stage in the lives of almost all fynbos plants, and is common during the dry summer months.

Many of the seeds germinate only after the intense heat of a fire. In readiness for fire, most proteas retain their seeds on the bush for at least one year, a habit known as serotiny. They do this in structures which resemble the original flowerheads. In some species these structures are strikingly beautiful and long-lasting, which accounts for their use in dried floral arrangements.

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