What is Fynbos?

Fynbos is a type of vegetation or veld. The name comes from a Dutch word ‘fijnbosch’, meaning ‘fine bush’, and refers to how the plants look. Most fynbos plants have small (or fine) leaves and are shrubs (or bushes) rather than trees.

The Fynbos Biome is a natural region that stretches from Vanrhynsdorp in the west to Grahamstown in the east, in a 100 to 200 kilometre-wide strip along the coast. This region has a Mediterranean climate, with cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. In most of the rest of South Africa, the rain falls in summer and the winters are dry. Fynbos plants have to be tough to survive the long summer droughts.

Fynbos is predominantly found in nutrient poor, highly leached soils. This is another characteristic of fynbos, as very few plants choose to live on such harsh soils. Fynbos has adapted to these soil conditions, allowing it to grow in areas where many other plants cannot.

Fires are common in fynbos during the hot, dry, windy summers. In fact, fynbos needs to burn every 15 years or so. Fire helps to renew the veld because it removes the old plants, and the smoke from the fire causes seeds in the ground to germinate and grow into new plants.