Every winter from June to December, one of the wonderous great migrations occurs.
Cape Floral Kingdom
Located near the southern tip of South Africa, the Cape Floral Kingdom is the most diverse floral kingdom in the world and has been declared as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. Situated among this one-of-a-kind floral region is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a luxury guest lodge committed to the preservation of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Through their diligent work observing the local landscape, and over 20 years of ecological surveying, six species of Fynbos that were previously unknown to science have been discovered on the Grootbos Reserve.
The phoenix of the floral kingdom
During the summer of 2006, a wildfire ravaged a large portion of vegetation on Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Fortunately, the Fynbos biome is a fire-driven system that requires regular burning to persist. In the wild, it takes up to five years for certain species of Fynbos to start flowering after germination. It was only during the early winter months of 2011 that the endangered Erica species made a triumphant return, after being regarded as wiped out by the fires. Every year from May to October the pink blossoms of the Erica Irregularis blanket the hills of the Grootbos Nature Reserve in an amazing sea of pink.
Physical attributes of the Erica Irregularis
Growing to 1.5m tall, the Erica Irregularis is a robust shrub. Fine linear leaves cover its branches in groups of three or four, and during the flowering period, the semi-rigid stalks bloom with remarkably delicate rose-coloured flowers. The small (4–5 mm) urn-shaped flowers have narrow ends and are arranged in irregular clusters, hence the scientific name ‘Irregularis’. The name Erica is derived from the Greek word Ereiko, meaning ‘to break’ or ‘rend’, which possibly refers to the fact that Erica stems tend to break easily.
Hive to Home
The Erica Irregularis only grows in a small 300-hectare patch of land on the coastal limestone foothills between Gansbaai and Stanford, most of which is contained within the Grootbos Reserve. The entire population relies on bees for pollination. Beehives have been strategically placed amongst the beautiful fauna and flora of the Grootbos Nature Reserve to bolster the pollination of the indigenous Erica. Once a year Grootbos harvests the single blossom honey produced from this unique shrub, courtesy of one of nature's hardest workers. The honey made from Erica Irregularis has a splendidly rich quality, is darker in colour and is more bitter on the palate than other Fynbos honeys.
The Erica Irregularis has become more than just a seasonal splash of colour that adorns the coastal foothills between Gansbaai and Stanford. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve celebrates the blooming of the Erica Irregularis by offering a unique experience where guests can participate in the harvesting of this distinct honey and also find out more about the symbiotic relationship between the Erica and the bee.
From its near extinction to being the source of a marvellously unique honey, the Erica Irregularis not only has a home on the rolling hills of the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, but also in every nature lover’s heart.