About the Cape

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Cape Pride Proteas
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The Cape Floral Kingdom
"At the southern tip of Africa lies one of the world's natural marvels. Here, bounded in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, in the south by the Indian Ocean, and inland by the ranges of mountains which run parallel to the coast, is the Cape Floral Kingdom. The natural plant-life of this small region is so different from the vegetation elsewhere in Africa and the rest of the world, and the plants that grow here so varied, that the Cape Flora is ranked equal with the world's other floras, all of which occupy a vastly greater area. Over 60% of the Cape Flora's more than 9000 plant species grow naturally nowhere else. This would be remarkable by itself, but the Cape Flora is not just unique---many of its plants, like the landscape which is their home, are especially beautiful. It is no accident that a host of garden flowers, grown in many parts of the world, like the Belladonna Lily (Amaryllis belladonna), the Guernsey Lily (Nerine sarniensis) and garden sparaxis to name just a few, were bred and selected from wild plants of the Cape.

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"The major vegetation type of the Cape Flora is fynbos which covers most of the mountains and parts of the lowlands. Fynbos is characterised by plants from three major families---the Protea family ( Proteaceae), the Cape heaths or ericas ( Ericaceae) and the Cape reeds ( Restionaceae). Although proteas (Protea species) are found in Africa as far north as Ethiopia and Togo, it is in the fynbos that there has evolved a profusion of different forms. All the pincushions (Leucospermum species) save two and all the leucadendrons (Leucadendron species) but two, are Cape Flora plants. All the other African plants of the Protea family, members of genera such as Mimetes, Serruria and - Aulax, are found only in the Cape Floral Kingdom

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"It is from proteas, pincushions, leucadendrons and serrurias growing wild in the Cape that plant breeders have produced the cultivars which are grown commercially for the flower markets of the world."

Above text and most images courtesy of Dr Colin Paterson-Jones, author and well known photographer.

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