Also known simply as the Cape, this zone includes the southern tip of Africa. Its coastal boundary extends from Port Elizabeth in the east to the mouth of the River Olifant in the northwest. On the landward side the boundary extends from the north western town of Nieuwoudtuille following the eastern slopes of the Cedarberg in a southerly direction and then east from Karoopoort along the northern slopes of the Witteburg, Swartberg, Braviaans, Kloff and Groot Winterhoek mountains ending at Port Elizabeth. This relatively small area with a Mediterranean type climate has one of the richest concentrations of plants on Earth with some 8550 species, and an astonishing level of endemism.

Capensis Coastal Fynbos

The coastal zone of Capensis has lower rainfall than in the mountains and because of the oceanic influence temperature fluctuations are less extreme and frosts are unheard of. Stands can be found on the south coast from Danger Point to near Mossel Bay, where limestone is the main substratum. Here ericoids and restioids occur beneath a canopy of proteoids. Many species are confined to this zone and the structure typically includes an upper layer of the endemic proteiods Protea obtusifolia, P. susannae, Leucodendron coniferum and L. muirii (Proteaceae) and a lower layer containing many other endemic species such as the ericoids Clutia ericoides (Euphorbiaceae), Erica spectabilis (Ericaceae), Lightfootia calcarea (Campanulaceae), Phylica selaginoides (Rhamnaceae), and the restioids Chondropetalum microcarpum, Restio eleocharis, Thamnochortus erectus and Thamnochortus paniculatus (Restionaceae). Other endemic species characteristic of south coast fynbos includes the grass Pentaschistes patuliflora (Poaceae), and shrubs like Hermannia trifoliata (Sterculiaceae), Pelargonium betulinum (Geraniaceae) and Senecio arnicaeiflorus (Asteraceae).  West coast fynbos, on the other hand, has a very different structure being mainly composed of ericoids and has a much more open canopy, and has its own assemblage of species that are absent or seldom found on the south coast. The characteristic proteoids include several endemic species like Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron subsp. canaliculatum, L. rodolentum (Proteaceae) and Protea scolymocephala (Proteaceae). Typical ericoids include Leyssera gnaphaloides, Limonium longifolium and the endemic Cliffortia juniperina (Rosaceae) and Phylica cephalantha (Rhamnaceae), while the restioids include Willdenowia arescens and the endemic grass Pentaschistes triseta (Poaceae). There are also several distinctive geophytes such as Caesia contorta, Homeria miniata and the endemic Antholyza ringens (Iridaceae).


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