The Cape Floral Kingdom

Scientists have divided the world into six regions called floral kingdoms (or floristic regions). Each of these regions is special because of the types of plants that grow there. The Cape Floral Kingdom (or Cape Floristic Region) is the smallest floristic region in the world. It has the highest number of different types (or species) of plants of any floral kingdom. It is also the only floral kingdom that is found entirely in one country.

The main type of vegetation in the Cape Floral Kingdom is fynbos. Other types of vegetation also grow in this region, e.g. renosterveld, Succulent Karoo, thicket and forest.

Nearly 9,000 different plant species grow here naturally. Fynbos is defined by these three very special groups or ‘plant families’:

  • Proteaceae [say: pro-tee-ay-see] – the Protea family
  • Ericaceae [say: eh-rih-kay-see] – the Erica family
  • Restionaceae [say: reh-sti-oh-nay-see] – the Restio family.

Sixty-nine percent of fynbos plant species grow only in this region, and nowhere else on Earth. We call these special types of plants ‘endemic’ species.