Spring Flower Watch: West Coast National Park

Written by Zoë Chapman Poulsen. Photographs by Rupert Koopman & Zoë Chapman Poulsen.

Perhaps among the most iconic spring flower destinations, West Coast National Park is just a stone’s throw away, an easy drive from Cape Town.

Few forget the whites, yellows and oranges of the carpets of spring daisies against huge granite boulders and the turquoise waters of Langebaan lagoon beyond.

Managed by SANParks, West Coast National Park is south of the bustling West Coast town of Langebaan and just over an hour drive from Cape Town. Entrance is free for Wild Card Holders with valid ID. All other entry fees can be found here.

Above: Stunning carpets of spring wildflowers in the Postberg section of West Coast National Park. Photo: Zoë Chapman Poulsen.

Please note that only the Langebaan entrance to West Coast National Park is currently open to the public, so if coming to view the flowers please time your day accordingly.

The majority of West Coast National Park is strandveld vegetation on deep acid sands. The park has in recent years expanded, incorporating extensive areas of high conservation value Hopefield Sand Plain Fynbos.

Above: Saldhana Granite Strandveld in West Coast National Park. Photo: Rupert Koopman.

Extensive wetlands can be found adjacent to the shores of the Langebaan lagoon. A total of 482 plant species have been recorded thus far in the park, with at least 21 species of conservation concern.

In August and September during the spring flower season, the Postberg section of the reserve is open to the public to see the spectacular display of blooms. Unlike much of the rest of the WCNP west of the R27, the Postberg section vegetation is mainly Saldanha Limestone Strandveld and Saldanha Granite Strandveld.

Above: Board Chair of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) Professor Stephen Blackmore on the limestone outcrop at Plankiesbaai in West Coast National Park. Photo: Rupert Koopman.

These two strandveld types are endemic to the Saldanha Peninsula and have many threatened species restricted to the special edaphic conditions they provide, with depth of soil and increased seasonal water availability on rocky areas being key among  their habitat requirements.

Above: Dimorphotheca pluvialis. Photo: Rupert Koopman.

Extensive carpets of wildflowers can be seen here, with predominantly daisies such as the rain daisy (Dimorphotheca pluvialis) and orange Arctotis hirsuta dominating the old agricultural lands. Also look out for the resident game, including herds of bontebok and eland.

The wildflowers are at their best on sunny days during the warmest part of the day, opening their blooms from 10am onwards and closing again as the day cools at around 4pm. The last entrance to the park is currently at 3pm.

Above: Lookout over Langebaan Lagoon from West Coast National Park. Photo: Rupert Koopman.

The flowers always have their faces leaning towards the north, so the best views of the stunning array of blooms can be seen when looking southwards.

Look out for next week’s edition of Spring Flower Watch, where we will be continuing our virtual botanical tour to some of the Cape’s special spring flower sites.

Above: Cleretum bellidiforme. Photo: Rupert Koopman.

Further Reading

Manning, J. Goldblatt, P. (2007) West Coast: South African Wild Flower Guide 7, Darling Wildflower Society & Botanical Society of South Africa, Claremont, South Africa.

 

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