Published: 29 July 2014
When the early Dutch settlers landed on our shore hoping to find wood to use as building material for their ships, all they found was a low shrubby bush. “What are we supposed to do with this? There is nothing here but fine bush”.
This is the legend of how 'fynbos' got its name. Although the flora of the Cape may not have been ideal for building ships, it displayed such an astounding diversity and uniqueness that it was soon declared one of the six floral kingdoms of the world!
A Botanical Wonderland
The Cape Floral Kingdom is by far the smallest of the kingdoms (the only one to fit within one country) but it is also the most diverse, with more than three times the floral species of the Amazon Jungle! Within an area of just 90 000 km2 there are over 9000 species of flowering fynbos plants, 70% of which are found nowhere else on earth.
Fynbos is not only famous for its remarkable diversity, but also the incredible beauty of many of its wildflowers. In 2004 Unesco declared the Cape Floral Region, constituting a number of protected areas covering more than 550 000 hectares, a World Heritage Site.
Adapted to Perfection
Another one of the beautiful and inspiring things about fynbos is how it thrives and proliferates in such harsh and adverse conditions. It is subjected to scorching summer droughts, heavy winter downpours, gale force winds, nutrient-poor soils and recurring fires and yet these unkind conditions are the prerequisites of its survival. Fynbos’ fragile beauty and uncontested diversity flies defiantly in the face of natural adversity.
So from where we sit it would seem the score is settled: Fynbos 1, Amazon Jungle 0