Common name: King Protea
Description:The King Protea is a woody shrub with tough, leathery leaves growing to one metre in height when mature (4 – 5 years). The flower heads size from 12 – 30 cm in diameter where one bush produces six to ten flower heads in one flowering season.
Distribution: A common species seen throughout the reserve. From the Cedarberg in the northwest to Grahamstown in the east on all mountains from sea level to 1500 meters high.
Pollination: Visited by Scarab and Protea Beetles and different birds, but mainly the Cape Sugar Bird.
Interesting Fact: The King Protea is the National Flower of South Africa. “Protea” is derived from one of the Greek gods, Proteas, a deity that was able to change into many forms. This is an appropriate image, since the Protea is known for its astonishing variety and diversity of flowers and leaves.
Common name: Heath
Discription: The heath forms a well-branched shrub which stands between 0.5 and 1.0 m in height and is densely clothed with “Ericoid Leaves” and has displays of deep, rose pink buds which flowers during summer.
Pollination: Typically pollinated by flies.
Distribution: Along the coast, on mountain slopes between 150 m and 1200 m above sea level in the Paarl, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Hottentots Holland Mountains. A common sight in the Reserve.
Interesting Fact: At least 660 of the Erica species are endemic to South Africa, and these are often called the Cape heaths, forming the largest family of fynbos.
Common name: Blossom Tree or Keurboom
Description: This is a small to medium-sized tree which has bushy branches growing close to the ground, growing up to 1.3 m per year. The trunk can grow up to 60 cm in diameter. The flowers are purple in colour.
Distribution: Native to a small, narrow strip along the south eastern coast of South Africa from the coast of the Cape Peninsula to George.
Pollination: Visited mainly by sunbirds, carpenter bees, honey bees and ants.
Interesting fact: Years ago the wood was high in demand for yokes (ox wagons). It was also used for spars, wagon-bed planks and rafters, and can be used for furniture.
Common name: March Lily
Description: This flower is an annual, bulbous plant. The bulb first produces a purplish-red stem of about 50 cm long with large clusters of scented, trumpet shaped flowers (10 cm long), coloured pink or white. The leaves only emerge after flowering has occurred.
Distribution: Found among mountainous fynbos, in sandy open areas throughout the Western Cape, commonly seen after fire.
Pollination: Mainly pollinated by carpenter bees and is also visited by the nocturnal Hawk moth.
Interesting fact: The sap within the bulbs of this plant is poisonous and was used by the Khoi-San people on their arrow heads when hunting small game. .
The Helderberg Nature Reserve is home to a wonderful variety of fynbos species and all these plants belong to different vegetation types making the Helderberg Nature Reserve unique in its own right. The medium in which the plants grow, in this case soils derived from shale and sandstone, will determine which kind of fynbos will thrive and in turn determines the different animal species that will then reside within and around the reserve. This reserve hosts three different kinds of vegetation types that are…
Southern Afro temperate Forest
Distribution: Predominantly in drainage lines, such as Disa Gorge.
Features: Tall and multi-layered vegetation dominated by yellow woods. Shrub understory dominated by herb layers in mesic/moist habitats. Soils are generally shallow and sandy.
Climate: Annual rainfall averages 863mm that includes mist precipitation and average temperatures between 16 – 22°C during the raining season (Winter).
Conservation: Least Concern
Swartland Shale Renosterveld
Distribution: Along mountain slopes between 50 – 350 m above sea level. The lowest sections of the Reserve constitute this vegetation type.
Features: Undulating plains and valleys supporting low to moderately tall shrubs within clay soils derived from shale (rich in nutrients) dominated by renosterbos.
Climate: Annual rainfall averaging between 270 – 670 mm from May to August with temperatures
Conservation: Critically Endangered
Cape Winelands Shale Fynbos
Distribution: Occur on high hills or low mountain slopes between zero to 700 m above sea level. The middle sections of the Reserve comprise this vegetation type.
Features: Undulating plains or steep slopes with moderately tall vegetation that is dense and dominated by Protea growing in acidic, moist-clay soils (loamy).
Climate: Average rainfall ranges between 520 – 1690 mm annually with temperatures from 6 – 26°C from February to July.
Endemic Taxon: Moraea aristata, a geophytic herb that is a protected species as its conservation status is Critically Endangered due to urbanization.