The plan in a nutshell: SA’s National Strategy for Plant Conservation

Written by Catherine Clulow

As signatory to the Convention of Biological Diversity, South Africa is dedicated to the application of a national strategy to safeguard plants that is aligned with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

SA is in a prime position to make a significant impact to global plant conservation as we have 6% of the world’s plant diversity and strong botanical and conservation capacity.

In this blog we wish to spread awareness about the strategy and its importance, as well as the roles BotSoc is involved in. A brief overview of the plan in a nutshell.

Over the past two years, the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) have worked together with SA botanists and conservationists to develop this strategy. The South African National Strategy for Plant Conservation (NSPC) includes 16 outcome-orientated targets, which if well-implemented will lead to the improved conservation of plants.

Due to South Africa being megadiverse and facing a unique context, the global targets were altered for the development of SA’s strategy. The targets were altered in such a way that they are attainable and relevant to and in the SA context. The targets range from documenting conservation status of plants, to conservation in situ ,and ex situ, and various other aspects in between. There are targets tackling the threat of alien vegetation and a range of targets addressing the sustainable use of plants. The strategy ends with targets focusing on its implementation and the increased awareness and education about plants and their need of conservation. Each target is nationally relevant and aligned with activities identified by the South African National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). To read the full strategy, it is available here.

South Africa’s Strategy for Plant Conservation has 5 objectives that outline the 16 Targets to be implemented by 2020.

These objectives are:
1. Plant diversity is well understood, documented and recognised
2. Plant diversity is urgently and effectively conserved
3. Plant diversity is used in a sustainable and equitable manner
4. Education and awareness about plant diversity, its role in sustainable livelihoods and importance to all life on earth is promoted
5. The capacity and public engagement necessary to implement the strategy have been developed.


BotSoc has been directly involved in assisting in the editing of this strategy and are committed to the implementation of specific targets. Namely targets 14, 15 and 16.


Target 14: The importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, education and public awareness programmes.

Target outcomes for 2020

– Plant conservation included in the life science curriculum across SA

– Plant conservation awareness expanded by exposure to botanical gardens and by involving the public in citizen science projects

– Plant conservation promoted in relevant media


Target 15: The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities sufficient according to national needs, to achieve the targets of this strategy.

Target outcomes for 2020

– Conservation courses offered in SA’s universities aligned with skills needed in the field of plant conservation

-Work place mentorship opportunities available in plant conservation programmes


Target 16: Institutions, networks and partnerships for plant conservation established and strengthened at national, regional and international levels to achieve the targets of this strategy.

Target outcomes for 2020

-A SA network for plant conservation effectively implementing and updating the NSPC

-Working groups for each target ensuring that specified outputs are being achieved

Through BotSoc’s activities and partnerships we aim to contribute to the implementation of these targets and successfully achieve the outcomes laid out in the strategy. In doing so, we will be playing our vital and attainable role, and contributing to the greater scheme of safeguarding SA’s rich and unique flora heritage, as laid out in the NSPC.

Over the next few years the stories of the NSPC implementation and of outcome-oriented activities will be shared. Each of us can play a role in highlighting the importance of conservation to others and sharing what we have learnt about the strategy and outcome story news as it becomes available.

Numerous environmental entities, bodies and individuals are involved in driving the activities of this living and dynamic document, and the successful implementation of the strategy outcomes. Through collaborative efforts we can and will make a difference to safeguard biodiversity for all.

A bit about sun loving plants: the wonders found on one little hillside in Limpopo

Written by Sandra Lennox & Catherine Clulow

This is a small selection of plants in flower on a granite ridge in the Limpopo province during spring, some of which could suit water-wise gardens. This particular ridge seems to be a frost free area, as the cabbage tree, Cussonia spicata and the misty plume bush, Tetradenia riparia are sensitive to frost.

  1. A bit about the sun-kissed beauty, that is Bushman’s tea (Athrixia phylicoides), Asteraceae

This little bush, made more valuable by pruning to increase the shrubby density, can be used to make a refreshing health tea (by brewing its leaves and twigs), which is used as a stimulant in traditional herbal medicine in Venda, Limpopo Province. The wood is useful and the branches may be bound to form brooms for the patio or garden.

  1. The cabbage tree (Cussonia spicata), Araliaceae

In the garden the cabbage tree is drought resistant, having succulent roots. Although evergreen it is sensitive to frost. The tree may be grown in large pots, which also restricts the ultimate size.

In nature the cabbage tree is found on forest margins, in wooded grassland and on rocky outcrops.  Being hardy it occurs from the coast to mountains. It is evergreen but frost tender.  It occurs as an occasional tree approximately 4m tall. The crushed leaves have a faint carrot-like aroma. Cabbage trees have been found growing on a gentle west-facing slope in unburnt wooded grassland on granite and in full sun, where there is a tree with a thick trunk. These trees are in the savanna but in the forest nearby – northern mistbelt forest – there is a particularly large Cussonia spicata. The cabbage tree in the Woodbush Forest near Haenertsburg has grown to champion size having a trunk over 7.6 m (25 ft) in circumference, in addition to having an extraordinary height and crown spread. This particular tree grows in a hot, wet climate in the kloof and is recorded as one of the remarkable trees recorded by Thomas Packenham author, dendrologist/tree-fundi and historian, while “on safari in southern Africa”.

The subterranean, succulent roots provide moisture. In folk medicine the bark, leaves and roots have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Beware, as the roots are poisonous, although traditionally having been used medicinally against malaria, digestive and reproductive system ailments. The hollow, split stems have been used as trays, the wood is light and can be hollowed out, particularly for fodder and possibly for plant containers.

  1. The Cape beech (Rapanea melanophloeos), Myrsinaceae

This is an evergreen tree which grows up to 20m tall, though the small tree in flower and fruit can grow in a cottage garden as the roots are not aggressive. In nature, the Cape Beech occurs on forest margins, in bush clumps and often in damp places. It is a pioneer tree which occurs from the coast to mountains.

The wood is hard, pinkish brown, moderately heavy and suitable for carving, particularly for violins and other musical instruments. The Cape Beech has edible fruit. In folk medicine, bark is used as an expectorant and an emetic, with anodyne and tonic properties, the caveat being that these require development by the pharmaceutical industry, so probably should not be tested at home without supervision. The bark of the Cape Beech is used in folk medicine for protection.

The Cape Beech grows easily from seed and seedlings are transplanted readily. The trees are moderately drought resistant and can withstand a fair degree of frost. Trees grow in shade, full sun and tolerate onshore coastal winds. The fruit attracts birds such as barbets, guinea fowl, louries and pigeons.

  1. The African protea, white sugarbush (Protea gauguedii), Proteaceae

This is a spreading multi-stemmed shrub or small, gnarled tree. In nature the white sugarbush or African protea occurs in grassland and bushveld, in rocky places. The flower-head (inflorescence) is usually solitary and up to 110mm in diameter.

  1. Broad leaved boekenhout (Faurea rochetiana subspecies speciosa), Proteaceae

This is a small to medium, deciduous tree, with a crooked trunk, grey crown and reddish autumn colours which occurs in high grassland and woodland. There is a broad leaved boekenhout tree, ± 3 m tall with gnarled trunk, inflorescences ascending, growing on a gentle W-facing slope in unburnt wooded grassland on granite, in full sun in the Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld, near Houtbosdorp, Limpopo.

In folk medicine the roots of the broad leaved boekenhout are utilised. Faurea rochetiana (A.Rich.) Chiov. ex Pic.Serm. was named after C.L.X. Rochet d’Hericourt, a French chemist who explored Ethiopia (1839-1845).

  1. The straw everlasting, sewejaartijie (Helichrysum krausii), Asteraceae

This is an aromatic shrublet, growing up to 1m tall, which occurs in coastal grassland and in open woodland. For example, the straw everlasting is a common herb, ± 40 cm tall with yellow flowers, growing on a rocky ridge in unburnt wooded grassland on granite, in full sun in the Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld.  The straw everlasting is visited by honey-bees. It is easy to grow, may be grown from seed and needs full sun. The Helichrysum krausii was named after Christian Krauss, (1812-90), German scientist and collector, in South Africa (1839-40).

  1. Phymaspermum athanasioides (Asteraceae)

This is a common herb ± 40 cm tall with yellow flowers, growing on a rocky ridge in unburnt wooded grassland on granite, in full sun in the Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld.

  1. Misty plume bush or ginger bush, Tetradenia riparia, (Lamiaceae)

This is a robust, slightly succulent shrub, or occasionally small tree 1-3m high, up to 5m which occurs on wooded hillsides, in frost free areas. It occurs near rocky outcrops or at margins of evergreen forest, often near water. The flowers emerge, July to September, before leaves. The plants are dioecious, with male flower spikes 2-8cm long and with denser, female flower spikes 1-2.5cm long. The plants are lavender scented, used in folk medicine for coughs, sore throats, stomach aches and malaria. These hardy plants are easily grown from cuttings.

In conclusion, on this particular hillside, amongst the plants rapidly collected by a small group of plant enthusiasts, were a crow-berry (Searsia pentheri, Anacardiaceae) and a climbing numnum (Carissa edulis, Apocynaceae), several cabbage trees, broom and cluster leaved asparagus (Asparagus virgatus and A. laricinus, Asparagaceae) and an Aloe sp. (Asphodelaceae). There were at least seven species of Asteraceae including silver oak, straw everlasting, small leaved fluff bush and small-head camphor bush. Trees included the common spike thorn and the koko tree (Gymnasporia buxifolia and Maytenus undata, Celastraceae), blue guarri trees (Euclea crispa, Ebenaceae), Cape Beech (Rapanea melanophloeos, Myrsinaceae) and African wild olive (Olea europaea, ssp africana, Oleaceae). Useful plants included the African protea or white sugar bush, (Protea gaguedi, Proteaceae), Anthospermum welwitschii, (Rubiaceae), the lemon bush or fever tea (Lippia javanica, Verbenaceae) and the ginger bush (Tetradenia riparia, Lamaiaceae).

It seems that, just on this small hillside, there are trees and shrubs which may be used for fuel, there are those with edible fruit or from which tea may be made, there are plants with medicinal properties and there is wood which may be used for carvings or which were used historically for structures such as wagons. In terms of environment, this ridge probably would not have experienced frost and the vegetation is bushveld, savanna although there is mistbelt forest within walking distance. The diversity is surely worthy of appreciation and hence conservation and that is only the plants, there are also birds, lizards and more.

Biodiversity in our country is diverse and fascinating! We hope you learnt something from and enjoyed the sharings of this blog post from the BotSoc Limpopo branch. Find out more about the Botanical Society of South Africa here.


This blog has been written with gratitude for the field notes and plant identifications by Barbara Turpin, Buffelskloof Nature reserve, Lydenburg and Bronwyn Egan, Curator, Larry leach Herbarium, University of Limpopo. Most photographs are courtesy of Pat Lennox, though the photographs of the Cape Beech, Rapanea melanophloeos are by Barbara Turpin.


Boon, R. 2010. Pooley’s Trees of Eastern South Africa. Durban: Natal Flora Publications Trust

Champion Tree Project (2002 onwards). Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).  (Internet:; accessed September 2016).

Coates-Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa, 3rd edn. Cape Town: Struik.

Packenham, T. 2007. In search of remarkable trees. On safari in southern Africa. Jonathan Ball, Johannesburg.

Pooley, E. 2005. A field guide to wildflowers KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Vandecasteele, P., Godard, P. 2006. In celebration of Fynbos, gardening, healing, cooking, decorating. Stuik, Cape Town.

Van Wyk, B.-E. & Gericke, N.  2000. People’s Plants. A Guide to useful Plants of Southern Africa. Pretoria: Briza Publications, p 102, 103, 312.

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 2013. Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Nature.

Venter, F. & Venter, J-A. 2002. Making the most of indigenous trees. Briza, Pretoria.



Sneak peek at the 10 SANBI National Botanical Gardens

Written by Catherine Clulow

So I bet you’ve heard of Kirstenbosch right? And perhaps the garden(s) in your region, but many folk are not aware that there are in fact 10 National Botanical Gardens managed by BotSoc’s partner the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Each garden gem offers something uniquely special and each and every one is well worth a visit. What’s more, as a BotSoc member, you are afforded the benefit of free entrance into all 10 gardens (with presentation of your valid BotSoc membership card), so what’s stopping you – head on out and explore! Each garden offers endless opportunities of learning, enjoying and engaging in nature.

Here’s a sneak peek at the 10 SANBI National Botanical Gardens (NBGs) – find out where they are and what they offer and pop in to explore and enjoy them when next you travel that way.

1. Free State NBG– Bloemfontein

On the fringes of Bloemfontein this garden extends between picturesque dolerite koppies. An experience not to be missed.

2. Hantam NBG– Nieuwoudtville

Take your time to enjoy the array of flora and fauna that call Hantam National Botanical Garden home. The first national botanical garden in the northern Cape.

3. Harold Porter NBG – Betty’s Bay

Situated in the heart of the coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest, extending from mountain slopes to the coastal dunes of the Overstrand district, this garden is renowned for their waterfalls and amber pools. The inspiration behind the gold medal-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year.

4. Karoo Desert NBG– Worcester

An exceptional gem, this garden displays a wide variety of South Africa’s desert and semi-desert plants at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range. The garden showcases a large succulent collection and is most popular to visit when the annuals/vygies are in bloom during spring.

5. Kirstenbosch NBG– Cape Town

This world-renowned garden of magnificence on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is more than just a garden – it is a tourism hotspot, place of recreation, conservation and learning. This garden is also home to the Botanical Society of South Africa head office and award-winning Centenary ‘Boomslang’ Canopy walkway.

6. KwaZulu-Natal NBG– Pietermaritzburg

This peaceful garden focuses on the conservation of plants from the eastern regions of South Africa and  rare and endangered species from elsewhere.

7. Kwelera NBG– North of East London

The youngest of the SANBI national botanical gardens. Wild and raw beauty awaits and magic is found in the dune forests and surrounds.

Unfortunately this garden is not yet open to the public


8. Lowveld NBG– Nelspruit

This garden is characterised by two rivers crossing, the Crocodile and Nels Rivers. Remarkable waterfalls and an African rainforest containing captivating vegetation from the coastal belt as well as Limpopo Province, are only a glimpse of what’s to be seen and enjoyed.

9. Pretoria NBG– Brummeria

This urban oasis offers a pristine getaway situated in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s administrative capital. A 35 metre high quartzite outcrop divides the garden into two sections offering visitors two worlds to explore. This garden is also home the SANBI head office.

10. Walter Sisulu NBG– Roodepoort

Voted the best place to get back to nature in Gauteng for the past nine years – this garden is an escape in the middle of the city. A breath-taking waterfall, outdoor gym, fascinating Black Eagle project, children’s area, restaurant, and birding opportunities make this a must visit.

And what’s more, it’s National Garden Day  on the 9th of October 2016, celebrate gardens with us!



Roots of Sustainability Garden- come see us at the CT Flower Show (*Giveaway up for grabs*)

Hello readers. You may or may not have heard yet that The Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) will be participating in the unmissable Cape Town Flower Show at the Castle of Good Hope 27-30 October 2016.


BotSoc have collaborated with Metro, and brought partners Reliance on board to bring visitors an awesome show garden at the Cape Town Flower Show this year- the Roots of Sustainability Garden– where we’ll be showcasing easy and effective ways to harvest rainwater and irrigate your garden, as well as tips for being water-wise and choosing indigenous plant options. There will be a variety of inspiring ideas on creating your perfect water-wise garden and making indigenous plant choices. View your roof in a whole different light and make your home sustainable.

Water is a scarce and dwindling resource, and South Africa is a dry country with unpredictable rainfall and an ever increasing demand for it. As the demand for this precious resource grows, so will its price along with legislation discouraging excessive use. It is, therefore, important to garden for the future.

Water-wise gardens cut down water usage but are still beautiful and, as there are so many indigenous options to choose from, water-wise gardening should be the norm.

Metro Roof|Solar|Electric, Reliance and BotSoc all fully support this notion and so have collaborated to participate in this year’s CT Flower Show to demonstrate to the general public tips and ideas on how to garden water-wise and sustainably. Visit our Roots of Sustainability Garden at the show (Garden 11), where we hope to educate and inspire. Be sure to pick up our brochure on 7 principles of water-wise gardening too.

We will highlight energy harvesting methods and water-wise gardening tips.

You can also find out all about BotSoc membership and add to your collection of natural heritage books at the BotSoc Bookshop. They will be located in the exhibitors’ hall and are sure to have an array of spectacular choices available, including authors from some of the CT Flower Show workshops and presentations. A great spot to get a gift and/or to spoil yourself with a book, BotSoc membership and/or a goodie or two.

Please remember to bring your plastic as the event is cashless, using WAP only. For all visitor information, please read here.


Stand the chance to WIN 2 TICKETS to the Cape Town Flower Show! Trust us you don’t want to miss out on this event. There’s something for everyone!

How to enter:

Simply comment below what the Metro/BotSoc/Reliance Roots of Sustainability Garden will be highlighting to visitors.

Terms and Conditions:

  • This prize may not be won by any staff member of BotSoc or their direct family members or any associated companies to the Cape Town Flower Show.
  • The prize is redeemable at the complimentary ticket counter at the Castle of Good Hope and valid for one day’s entrance only.
  • Giveaway entries close Wednesday 19th October 2016.
  • Please note that you can only enter once and the winner will be chosen by We will contact you via email and your name and contact will be shared with the CT Flower Show organising team to ensure you’re on the guest list, and they’ll get in touch with you regarding redeeming your tickets.

Best of luck! And if you don’t win, no need for FOMO, you can get your tickets here or at the door.

Follow, like and engage with the BotSoc family on Facebook and Twitter. Find out more about and engage with the lovely folk from Reliance on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Engage with the sustainable Metro team on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you and see you there. It’d be great if you could share this blog with others so they to can stand a chance to win.




Celebrate our natural heritage! Another successful treasure hunt with CREW: The rediscovery of Polhillia ignota

Written by: Ismail Ebrahim (CREW) & Catherine Clulow (BotSoc)

So it’s Heritage month and ‘Proudly South African’ is a slogan we are all familiar with, am I right? A slogan for our rainbow nation and we epitomise it with our multiracial and multicultural society. Living in a beautifully diverse country full of potential and wonders it’s difficult not to boast. SA is recognised for its uniqueness, assortment of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and distinct wildlife and astounding biodiversity.

Be proud of your natural heritage this Heritage month, spread the word about it and take action to protect it!

South Africa supports a vast biodiversity of over 20 456 plant species, making it the only country in the world with its own plant Kingdom.

As South Africans, we are responsible for safeguarding our magnificent ecosystems and species rich environments- for our future generations as well as the rest of the world to enjoy and be bewildered by.

Who are CREW?

So you may or may not have heard of CREW, the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers. They are an awesome programme under the SANBI Threatened Plant Species Programme and a close partner of BotSoc.

In 2003, CREW was born through the initiation of inclusion of a ‘citizen science’ programme to enhance botany research with the then National Botanical Institute (NBI), now known as the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Citizen Science is magic! Using the general public to contribute to research and monitoring is mutually beneficial and exciting. CREW prides itself on the monitoring and evaluation of SA’s threatened plants and with the assistance of citizen scientists has been able to make great strides in the IUCN red listing assessments in terms of the country’s diverse plant families. CREW’s work is important in assisting to determine which endemic plants need to be prioritised for conservation purposes. CREW operates across the country and is continually looking for volunteers to assist them; you need not be a specialist botanist, but have a passion for and interest in plants and a basic level of plant identification skills. Is this something that’s appealing to you? Get in touch! (See contact at the bottom of this blog).

Many of the plants found by CREW have not been seen in years, so finding these is extremely exciting! We have recent news from the CREW team that a thought-to-be-extinct plant has been found! YIPEE!

Another successful treasure hunt with CREW: The rediscovery of Polhillia ignota.

Polhillia ignota © Ismail Ebrahim

The Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) programme has rediscovered another long lost species. Polhilla ignota was known from only two collections made in 1909 and 1928 in the Porterville and Saldanha areas respectively. This species was discovered in April 2016 on Marasmodes Day, which is an annual botanical event run by the CREW programme to find populations of species belonging to the Marasmodes genus (a small highly threatened genus of plants in the Asteraceae family). At this time the plants were not in flower and we required flowers to confirm the identification of the species. On the 9th of September CREW staff and a group of volunteers went to collect flowering material of the species. The plants are found on farm Goede Hoop near Eendekuil. The area has been largely transformed but there are a few remnants of natural veld that has not been ploughed because they are too steep or rocky. Only 13 plants were recorded on this site. Specimens collected were taken to the Compton Herbarium and confirmed by Dr Stephen Boatwright. This is an extremely exciting discovery as this species was thought to be extinct at the historical localities. Many searches for this species have been conducted in the Saldanha and Porterville with no success. This new population is a significant range extension for the species and this means that the status will change from Extinct to Critically Endangered. We also found new populations of Diplosoma retroversum and Cheiridopsis rostrata, which are two very rare vygies at the same site.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the CREW funders: SANBI, BotSoc and Mapula Trust for supporting the programme; Dr Stephen Boatwright for confirming the identification; Marius Wheeler from Cape Nature for liaising with the landowner; and CREW volunteers Brian Du Preez, Richard Adcock, Chris Browne, Sediqa Khatieb and Patrick Fraser for helping to find and monitor the population.

Want to get in on the action?

If you are interested in joining CREW, please contact Suvarna Parbhoo (KZN) or Ismail Ebrahim (Western Cape) and they can put you in contact with your nearest CREW group(s). Become a member of the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) and share your passion of plants and their conservation, read more about BotSoc membership here.

Happy Heritage Month! Proudly South African today and always!



Bring the birds singing into your garden

Written by Catherine Clulow

What’s better than waking up to the chirping, chittering and song of birds in the garden? And not only waking up to those melodies but having regular visitors, enjoying your garden with you, helping with pests, pollinating, offering fascination, beauty and diversity…. Birds are a joy and today this blog shares some tips to bring the birds singing into your garden

Meet birds’ 3 easy-to-cater-for basic needs and they will come

  1. Food

Plant trees and shrubs that offer fruits and berries, seeds or nectar that our flying friends love. And/or incorporate plants in your garden that encourage and attract insects that birds in your area feed on.

  1. Water

Provide a birdbath, pond or water feature and you could double the number of visiting birds. Ensure that there are ample perching options for the birds to enjoy these wet wonders.

  1. Shelter

Create spaces where birds can hide from predators, take refuge in bad weather, and build their nests. Trees, shrubs and tall grasses, as well as piled up logs, hollow tree trunks and made-to-order bird houses all provide excellent shelter.

Kevin Sields (2)
Cape White-eye © Kevin Shields

Who might you meet…

Orange-breasted sunbirds are attracted by brightly coloured tubular flowers, like ericas, aloes, leonotis etc.

Orange Breasted Sunbird - Mark Booysens
Orange breasted sunbird © Mark Booysens

Plants like the sweet pea bush (Podalyria calyptrata) attract insects, which will attract birds like the Cape Batis.

Cape Batis- Kevin Shields
Cape Batis © Kevin Shields

The Cape White-eye feeds on many garden pests like aphids and scale insects, as well as fruit and nectar.

Cape White-eye- Kevin Shields
Cape White-eye © Kevin Shields

May you soon be whistling and singing along with your flighted friends. Happy gardening! Share with us in the comments below which birds you’ve had the pleasure of hosting in your garden.



The Spring Wildflowers are calling: 5 reasons to visit the Wildflowers this September

Written by Catherine Clulow

Let Mother-Nature show off and where better to witness her display than along the West Coast where you’ll be treated to fields of flowering heads.

If you’ve never had the chance to go bloom bashing and see the usually dusty earth erupt into a tapestry of colour (and even if you’ve already been once or twice or more), what are you waiting for, here are 5 reasons to visit the Wildflowers this September brought to you by the Botanical Society of SA.

  1. Celebrate spring

Mother-nature is shaking off her wintery slumber and smiling up at the summer months ahead. Head on out and ring in spring with a bit of pomp and ceremony, why not?

© Catherine Clulow
  1. Observe nature vibrant and beautiful

The rainbow of hues you may experience is simply breath-taking! From rich wild cineraria to snow white rain daisies in the Sandveld to a diversity of blooming bulbs spread beauty and the earth laughs in flowers basking in the spring sunshine.

  1. Explore and appreciate what’s left of the critically endangered Renosterveld

Go to the Darling/Mamre/ Hopefield areas and enjoy this group of privately owned nature reserves which display the spectacular diversity of this region. Don’t miss the 99th  Darling Wildflower show next weekend (16-18 Sept. 2016), you can find out all about this must-see event here.

Find out all about Renosterveld here.

© Catherine Clulow
  1. Reconnect with real beauty

Unchain yourself from your desk, unglue your eyes from screens, switch off your mobile and head off into nature to relax, appreciate and unwind. Trust me, it’s good for you and you’ll feel fantastic afterwards. Take notice of the sheer magnitude of the natural world instead of worrying who tweeted what, who friended whom or why you’re too square for your small circle. The spring flowers are a tangible reminder of the finer things in life, to be treasured and enjoyed.

  1. Rediscover South Africa’s national parks

It’s exhilarating to enjoy a day out in one of the Cape region’s five protected national parks, taking time to view the spring flowers in the West Coast National Park- wetland-rich strandveld snug against the Langebaan Lagoon- what a convenient way to rediscover some of SA’s most beautiful areas.

Frequently asked questions:

  • WHO?


  • WHAT? What else might I see when out and about amongst the spring flowers?

All of the towns on the West Coast have the most hospitable and interesting people who will make your stay with them a memorable one. There are a number of guest houses, self-catering and camping facilities. Other activities include hiking, birding, fishing, game watching, body boarding, mountain biking and more.

Throughout the area there are countless birds, buck and bugs. Keep your eyes peeled and you may even spot passing whales and dolphins off the coast, bat-eared foxes, mongooses and other wildlife

  • WHY? Why bother hopping in the car and heading out?

We live in a beautifully biodiverse country with pleasures like these on our doorsteps, so why not enjoy them. Also the reasons you read above.

  • WHEN? When is the best time to view the spring flowers in the West Coast region of the Cape Floral Kingdom?

August/ September is the best time to visit the flowers, bearing in mind that whatever the weather’s doing may impact any ‘usual’ timing expectations.  Also keep in mind that the flowers only throw back their delicate heads on sunny days (between 10h30 and 15h30 is best). So don’t go bloom hunting on a cloudy afternoon, and wait until the sun is high in the sky.

  • WHERE? Where can I visit the flowers in the Cape region?

There are three public nature reserves (Groenkloof, Renosterveld and Tienie Versveld) and four private nature reserves (Contreberg, Waylands, Oudepost and Bokbaai Vygie route) in the Darling/ Yzerfontein District. Mamre has a small reserve and Hopefield has a most beautiful reserve opposite the show grounds.

  • HOW? Can I join a spring flower tour or follow a trail?

You may contact the various tourism offices of the local towns in the area for local guided tours that are available.

The West Coast Biosphere Reserve has several tours/trails available.

The West Coast National Park does not offer formal tours but has a number of self-drive routes available, and in the Park, there are two trails that give uber passionate flower followers an opportunity to get both an up-close look at the plant life and some spring exercise (bookings essential for both hikes).

Chat with the folk of the Darling Wildflower Society.

Enjoy your blooming adventures, stay safe and blossom in awe and appreciation of our amazing natural heritage.