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South African fynbos in Eden's Mediterranean Biome

Find out how we've tried to recreate the floral delights of this South African habitat at Eden.

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Summer drought, nutrient-poor soils and fire have made the South African plant palette one of the wonders of the world. The country’s Cape Floral Kingdom, a World Heritage Site, is one of the richest areas for plants in the world, boasting over 1,400 plant species that are rare or endangered.

The fynbos habitat (fain-boss is Afrikaans for ‘fine bush’) is characterised by evergreen, fire-prone shrubs living on nutrient-poor soil. Formed millions of years ago from the ashes of drought-stressed forests, the fynbos is now managed for conservation with fire, because some of the plants need exposure to fire before they can germinate.

Look out for tall protea family shrubs with large leathery leaves, reed-like prehistoric-looking plants, the daisy family, and the greatest variety of bulbs on earth.

Between July and September our flowerbed blooms into a multi-coloured carpet of pelargoniums and daisies. These garden favourites are descendants of the wild plants which flower in Namaqualand’s red desert after winter rain. Different species germinate in different years, depending on when the rains come, taking it in turns to share the scarce water. The ericas, geraniums, gladioli and lilies you’ll know from your own garden also come from these desert flowers.

Did you know?

  • Because fynbos plants grow in nutrient-poor soils, they cannot afford to lose leaves to herbivores and so produce tannins to ward off would-be munchers. It’s the tannins that leach out from decaying vegetation in the surrounding soil that give South Africa’s ‘Pepsi pools’ their name.
  • The surface of our Pepsi pool is covered in the sweetly scented Cape pondweed. Its flowers are edible and can be pickled or used in salads, soups and, most importantly, Cape stew.

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