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Flora of Table Mountain

10th February 2008 – 5:30 pm

The flora that is found on Table Mountain is referred to as fynbos.  This word is a collective term for the vegetation that is found predominantly within the Western Cape.   It is also one of the six floral kingdoms in the world and for its size (it is the smallest) it is the most diverse.
There are over 8500 different species of plant that fall within the Cape Floral  Kingdom and over 1500 of these are found on Table Mountain – that is more than is found in the British Isles!  So when hiking on Table Mountain bear in mind that the plants you are looking at are really something special.
In January and February those prepared to hike up the mountain are in for a treat.  The red disas which is a type of orchid, are flowering and depending on what route you take up you will see a magnificent display of red along the banks of some of the streams.   The Back Table is the best place to see the disas – either near De Villiers dam or along the path from the top of Skeleton Gorge to Maclear’s Beacon.  Unfortunately you don’t see them on Platteklip Gorge.
If you are planning to do a Table Mountain hike at this time of year bear in mind that you need to choose a Back Table route if you wish to see these impressive flowers.  Of course also around at the moment is the Table Mountain Beauty Butterfly.  They pollinate the red flowers and if you happen to be wearing a red top they might be attracted to you too!  The Crassulas (another red flower) are also flowering so look out for them as well and with a bit of luck you will see the butterfly as well.
Of course choosing to go with a guide when you hike Table Mountain will mean you wont miss out on these treats.  So bear this in mind before you set off!

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