The Kogelberg region of the Cape is generally accepted as the true heart of the Cape floral Kingdom, an area of unprecendeted floral diversity and natural beauty. As a result some 100 000 hectares stretching from the coast (Gordons Bay to Kleinmond) inland to Groenlandberg and Bot River has been proclaimed a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. See Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve for more info.
A huge fire at the beginning of this year resulted in most of the reserve being burnt and visitors to Kogelberg have been disappointed by blackened and burnt out landscapes. However with the winter rains and warm, sunny spring days this has all changed. The Kogelberg is once again full of colour as millions of bulbs, many of which have long been dormant, flourish in the nutrient-rich post-fire environment.
Over the last few weeks I have been involved with the landscaping and fynbos restoration at the Oudeberg Cabins near Cape Nature’s offices in the Kogelberg Reserve. It has been incredible to drive into to the Reserve each day and see the changing colours and bright splashes appearing and fading across the landscape as the different spring bulbs make their post-fire appearance.
At the moment there are three species dominating the show. The first and most specatcular is Pillansia templemannii. This beautiful iris grows only on the lower stony slopes around the Kogelberg. What makes it very special is that it is what botanists term a mono-specific and endemic genus. What this means is that the genus only has one species and whats more that the genus and its single species are confined to the Kogelberg area – no where else on Earth! The loose clusters of long-lasting bright orange flowers are pollinated by bees and monkey beetles and turn the hills orange after fire. It is however seldom seen flowering between fires. So if you want to catch this spectacular flowering display, now is the time to visit the Kogelberg.
This week when I arrived at the Reserve I was met by a sea of yellow that simply was not there the week before. Over just a couple of days, millions of Wachendorfia paniculata (the rooikanol) had opened in a spectacular show of yellow.
I cant wait to see what next weeks spring splendour in the Kogelberg has install!