Renosterveld derives its name from the renosterbos, a member of the daisy family which is the most characteristic species found in this vegetation type. Renoster is afrikaans for rhinoceris and the name renosterbos was probably originally associated with the plant being food of the black rhinoceros or the plants similar grey appearance to rhinoceros hide. The Black rhinoceros was relatively common in this region in the past. Renosterveld together with succulent karoo and fynbos make up the fynbos biome. Renosterveld shows a strong resemblance to fynbos but it lacks restioids, proteoids are extremely rare and it grows on clay-rich soils that are always less sandy and more fertile than fynbos soils.
Renosterveld is characterised by an extremely high diversity of bulbs. It grows in areas in the Cape where rainfall is less than about 600 mm and is replaced by succulent karoo where rainfall drops below 250 to 300 mm per anum.
Renosterveld was once widespread on the lowlands of the west coast (the Swartland) and the south coast (the Overberg). In former times this vegetation would have supported large numbers of bontebok, quagga and other grazers but most of this vegetation has been converted to farmlands, owing to the fertility of the soils. Today almost all renosterveld has been converted to rolling hills covered in barley, wheet and canola and very little (less than 3%) of the renosterveld remains. As a result, all remaining patches of intact renosterveld are extremely valuable and every effort should be made to protect them.