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.
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.
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.
& 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.
Protea species found on Vaalkloof
Arid pincushion / Luisiebossie
Catherine wheel pincushion / Wielblom
Grey-leaf sugarbush / Louriersuikerbos
Strap-leaf sugarbush / Riemblaarsuikerbos
Nodding sugarbush / Knipkopsuikerbos
Water sugarbush / Waterwitsuikerbos
Common sugarbush / Suikerbos
Swan sugarbush / Skaamrosie
Hew river spiderhead
Leucadendron bruinioides var. bruinioides
Foetid conebush / Tolletjiesbos
Grey conebush / Syhaartolbos
Spinning top / Tolletjiesbos
Common sunshine conebush / Knoppiesgeelbos