Flora


On the plains there are typical drought resistant plants, with a great diversity of succulents. As you approach the mountain the vegetation changes into distinctive fynbos, everlasting and heath. Definitely a botanist's paradise.

The combination of vegetation types and the underlying geology and geomorphology of Vaalkloof can be devided into five broad physiographic units:

Mountain Fynbos on sandstone
Plateau Fynbos on sandy mountain tops
Grassy Fynbos on the shale slopes
Renosterveld & Renosterveld transition with Karoo
Succulent Karoo on the plains.

Mountain Fynbos

On Sandstone


This vegetation is found on the crest of the Bontberg Mountain Range, as well as places where sandstone is exposed on the mountain slopes. The vegetation can be described as typical Fynbos, consisting of Protea, Erica, restioid species and many more, such as Agathosma, Pelargonium, Passerina, Muraltia, Aspalathus, Euryops and Helichrysum species.

Mountain Fynbos on the flat-topped summit of the Bontberg Mountain The Fynbos, however, differs considerably from one area to another on Vaalkloof - on the crest of the Bontberg Mountain, and particularly on the southern side, the Fynbos is almost mesic (moist and lush), while on the lower northern slope, the Fynbos is very arid. The Fynbos is closely associated with the sandstone formations of the Witteberg Mountains, from the crest of the range right down to lower altitudes on the north-facing slopes.

Mountain Fynbos near the top of Bontberg with a southerly aspect. Plant species of this vegetation type include no less than 21 species of Proteaceae, which is significantly high for any area. Another interesting species collected was Agathosma acocksii (boegoe) - it is a rare Fynbos endemic and completely restricted to the Bontberg. The Leucadendron nitidum is a very disjunct population, which is very different from the known Nitidum. The Protea witsenbergensis (skaamrosie) is the most southerly distribution of the species and its presence on Bontberg was first confirmed during 1998.

The combination of the 21 Proteaceae is unique and indicates that Bontberg forms a biogeographical link between the flora of the Cederberg/Koue Bokkeveld and the Swartberg.




Plateau Fynbos

On sandy mountain tops



This vegetation type occurs on the flat summits, where sandy soils have accumulated in wide, shallow basins. A feature of this vegetation type is its large composition of Restionaceae and Poaceae (reeds and grasses). The Restionaceae are by far the most important group with a great diversity of species including Muraltia, Erica, Metalasia and Stoebe species.





Grassy Fynbos

On the shale slopes



This landscape type is what much of Vaalkloof is composed of. In some of the rocky areas the vegetation closely resembles the Mountain Fynbos and Renosterveld, but most if it has a more grassy appearance with fewer shrubs. The vegetation can probably be classed as Fynbos/Renosterveld transition. The cover of the slopes largely consists of a variety of Restionaceae and a mixture of grasses. At the bottom of the valleys and the narrow kloofs, the vegetation becomes bushy and contains a number of small trees.




Renosterveld

& Renosterveld transition with Karoo



This vegetation unit occurs at the foot of the mountain in a band running across its foothills and down onto the more sandy plains. It is extremely difficult to detect any clear boundary between the renosterveld and the karroid vegetation, that is why it should rather be classified as a transitional and ecotonal landscape and vegetation unit. It ranges from almost pure renosterveld, at slightly higher altitudes, to a grassy, succulent vegetation type on the open plain.





Succulent Karoo

On the plains



This is the vegetation unit of the low-lying karroid plains. Many of the shrub species of the Renosterveld can also be found here, but there is a higher incidence of mesembryanthemums and dwarf karroid shrubs. Grass is almost absent, except in the sandy areas of the extreme northern part where Stipagrostis uniplumis and Stipagrostis obtusa are found - this is near the entrance gate to Vaalkloof. At least two of the succulent schrubs are endemic - Braunsia stayneri and Tanquana archeri.




Protea species found on Vaalkloof




Leucospermum calligerum
Arid pincushion / Luisiebossie
Leucospermum catherinae
Catherine wheel pincushion / Wielblom
Protea amplexicaulus
Clasping-leaf sugarbush
Protea laurifolia
Grey-leaf sugarbush / Louriersuikerbos


Protea lorifolia
Strap-leaf sugarbush / Riemblaarsuikerbos
Protea pendula
Nodding sugarbush / Knipkopsuikerbos
Protea punctata
Water sugarbush / Waterwitsuikerbos
Protea repens
Common sugarbush / Suikerbos


Protea revoluta
Rolled-leaf sugarbush
Protea scolopendriifolia
Hearts-tongue-fern sugarbush
Protea witzenbergiana
Swan sugarbush / Skaamrosie
Serruria dodii
Hew river spiderhead


Spatalla confusa
Long-tube spoon
Vexatorella obtusata
Montagu vexator
Leucadendron barkerae
Swartberg conebush
Leucadendron bruinioides var. bruinioides
Foetid conebush / Tolletjiesbos


Leucadendron nitidum
Bokkeveld conebush
Leucadendron pubescens
Grey conebush / Syhaartolbos
Leucadendron rubrum
Spinning top / Tolletjiesbos
Leucadendron salignum
Common sunshine conebush / Knoppiesgeelbos