Wild Flowers of South Africa, by John Manning and Colin Paterson-Jones
The flora of South Africa is one of the richest and most distinctive in the world. Evidence of its existence first reached Europe in 1597 in the form of the dried flower head of a protea. Authors John Manning and Colin Paterson-Jones introduce many and varied environments, from acacia savanna and montane forest to coastal sand dunes and seemingly endless grasslands, and the unique richness of the Capes fynbos kingdom.
With the establishment of a permanent settlement at Cape Town in 1652, an interest in South Africa's plants was unleashed that, even today, shows no sign of abating. Nearly 22 000 species of native plants have been recorded from southern Africa, ranging from towering forest giants to miniscule succulents, and insignificant shrubs to flamboyant bulbs. Areas of equivalent size in tropical Africa contain just 6000 to 10000 species. Within southern Africa itself, nearly half of the region's plant species are concentrated in the extreme southwest, in the Cape Floral Region. Here over 9 000 plant species are to be found within an area comprising less than four per cent of the subcontinent, making it the richest temperate flora in the world. The final count of the region's diversity is still climbing as newly discovered species are added to the tally each year. The richness of South Africa's plant life is matched by the diversity of its vegetation. Tropi-cal and temperate forests along the east coast give way to savanna, thicket and grassland, which are replaced in turn by fynbos, succulent shrubland and desert. Each of these vegetation types supports its own distinctive communities of plants. The origins of this diversity are rooted in the varied landscape and climate of the subcontinent. A diverse landscape provides a variety of habitats in which different plant communities become established, while the radical shift in climate across the region, from wet summers and dry winters in the east to arid summers and moist winters in the southwest, has fostered the evolution of two very distinct floras in a single country. Fluctuations in the climate over the past few million years stimulated the evolution of new species even as they caused the extinction of others. Some ancient lineages continue to survive in pockets of suitable climate, such as mountain tops or isolated valleys. The great ice ages that scoured the northern hemisphere, blanketing large areas with ice and driving many species to extinction, not only left southern Africa free of snow but actually served to enrich its flora by creating new environments while preserving the old. its future is now in our hands.
This is an excerpt from the book: Wild Flowers of South Africa, by John Manning and Colin Paterson-Jones.
Title: Wild Flowers of South Africa
Author: John Manning; Colin Paterson-Jones
Publisher: Randomhouse Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2006
ISBN 9781770074279 / ISBN 978-1-77007-427-9
Softcover, 18x18 cm, 80 pages, throughout colour photos
Manning, John und Paterson-Jones, Colin im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Offers a glimpse into South Africa’s rich floral heritage, enabling the reader to enjoy our most spectacular flowers
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