This blog comes from Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities at the south-western tip of the African continent.

Pine trees and Protests: Challenges and successes of restoring Critically Endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos at Lower Tokai, Cape Town, South Africa

Pine trees and Protests: Challenges and successes of restoring Critically Endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos at Lower Tokai, Cape Town, South Africa

This week the normally quiet Cape Town suburb of Tokai has been the centre of attention. It has made front page news in the papers and social media has been buzzing. Placard waving protestors, their families and their dogs lined the side of Orpen Road with residents queuing to sign petitions. Tears have been shed and emotions have been running high.

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A new look for Notes from a Cape Town Botanist

A new look for Notes from a Cape Town Botanist

Notes from a Cape Town Botanist was born on a bench on a cold spring day at London’s Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, inspired by the prominent botanist, conservationist and author Sara Oldfield, then Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The blog was started with an aim to communicate to the world in a way accessible to all about the international importance of South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region (CFR). It also reports on the conservation challenges the CFR faces and the vital work of those striving for a better understanding and to conserve it for the future.

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What fynbos flower are you?

What fynbos flower are you?

Are you a dynamic King Protea? Or a caring Protea compacta? Take our fynbos quiz, and find out more about fynbos – and yourself. And stand a chance to win a two night stay for two people at the Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve, between Bredasdorp and Swellendam in the Overberg. All you need to do is complete the fun quiz, and share your fynbos flower on social media.

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Planting a Wild Food Garden at Moya We Khaya

Planting a Wild Food Garden at Moya We Khaya

It is well known that growing your own food is one of the greatest moves that we can make towards eating truly green and sustainably. It cuts the food miles and puts people in control of their own diet destiny in a world where often some of the most ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ large scale supermarket brands still contain ingredients sprayed with vast numbers of chemicals and shipped across the globe, generating a huge carbon footprint. Many people have taken the initiative in the face of these challenges and gardens and allotments brim with lovingly tended carrots and cabbage destined for local dinner tables.

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Frenchmen on the Moon: Encounters with Klipvis in the Tanqua Karoo

Frenchmen on the Moon: Encounters with Klipvis in the Tanqua Karoo

Since I begun my studies in Botany I have found myself using all sorts of weird and wonderful objects for the purpose for which they were not intended in the name of scientific research. I have processed seed collections using a toilet brush. A car floor mat is also an excellent and most useful tool for this. In this spirit about 18 months ago I was on the hunt for corner markers for vegetation survey plots that could be hammered successfully into concrete hard Renosterveld clay soils.

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Out of the Ashes: Post fire in Table Mountain National Park

Out of the Ashes: Post fire in Table Mountain National Park

In March 2015 the Peninsula burnt. The biggest veld fire since 2000 raged across Table Mountain National Park. People lost homes and businesses. Bees Marais, one of the country’s top helicopter rescue pilots, tragically lost his life in the line of duty while fighting fire at Cape Point. The blaze and the acrid smoke cloyed the air all over Cape Town, turning the sky scarlet and orange as the sun went down each day.

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Cape Town is situated on the rugged and mountainous Cape Peninsula, stretching from the iconic profile of Lions Head, Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak in the north to the Cape of Good Hope in the far south. Table Mountain was voted one of the new Seven Wonders of the natural world.

What makes the Cape Peninsula so special?

 The Cape is characterised by a type of vegetation known as fynbos, a Mediterranean climate shrubland that is both fire prone and fire dependent. Fynbos is renowned for its phenomenal plant diversity with a total of more than 9,000 species of vascular plants in an area less than the size of Portugal. The Cape Peninsula has 2,285 plant species and Table Mountain alone has almost 1,500 species in just 57 square kilometres.

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Taking Action

There are many environmental organisations based in Cape Town and beyond that require the services of volunteers to undertake their work. So if you have a little time to spare please get involved.

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