Thursday, 25 November 2010

Limestone Fynbos

I was recently contacted by the Duiwenhoks Conservancy to spread the word about a book that they have put together about South Africa's quite unusual Limestone Fynbos.


Limestone Fynbos is an intriguing flora that occurs on South Africa's southern coast, wherever there are limestone hills or cliffs. Most of the plants occur in a broad sweep from Gansbaai to the Gouritz River, including pockets at Cape Point and Macassar. This flora can be divided into three natural units, Agulhas Limestone, De Hope Limestone and Canca Limestone.



Limestone Fynbos of the Vermaaklikheid Area
Limestone Fynbos is floristically very different from other vegetation. The reason for this is that these plants thrive on a soil type that would be toxic to most fynbos plants, which are normally found on acidic or neutral soils.  They grow on limestone soils, which are so alkaline that if you squeeze lemon juice on them they will fizz. It is this alkalinity in the soil that is toxic to most fynbos plants. In a remarkable adaptation to a hostile soil environment, Limestone Fynbos has evolved as a unique flora that shares only a few species in common with sandstone fynbos and sand fynbos. As one would expect from a flora that is confined to such specific soils, many plants are endemic, meaning that they grow only on such soils or even at only one locality.

At first glance, this little-known flora appears as dry woody scrub. On closer inspection a fascinating array of intriguing and sometimes tiny flowers emerge. Over the past ten years, the author Louisa Oberholzer began collecting, describing and photographing the plants in the Vermaaklikheid area of the Western Cape ( Near Stillbaai). The Duiwenhoks Conservancy provided financial support for the identification of the species and finally for the publication of the book, Limestone Fynbos of the Vermaaklikheid Area. It presents a photographic record and description of 124 species. Of particular interest are the intriguing Fabaceae, or pea-like flowers and the pungent buchus, which belong to the Rutacea or citrus family.

The book is priced at R130.00 available from the Duiwenhoks Conservancy, (info@duiwenhoksconservancy.co.za) and also from the author, (louisa.stanford@gmail.com)



This book is an important vehicle to inform the public and particularly landowners about the value of Limestone Fynbos and the importance of controlling alien vegetation, which is a major threat to all the fynbos plant communities. As people see its value, this little known vegetation type will hopefully be better protected.
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