Distribution: Western Cape Province: From Franschhoek, Groot-Drakensteinberge and Simonsberg (near Stellenbosch) in the north passing southwards between Gordon’s Bay and Bot River to Cape Hangklip and Kleinmond in the south including the Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Groenland, Hottentots Holland, Kogelberg and Palmietberge Mountains. Altitude 20–1 590 m at summit of Somerset Sneeukop. 10.3% of this vegetation type occurs within and 89.7% outside the City. Levels of transformation nationally are higher (12%) than inside City borders (1%).
Vegetation & Landscape Features: High mountains with steep to gentle slopes, and undulating plains and hills of varied aspect. General appearance of vegetation low, closed shrubland with scattered emergent tall shrubs. Proteoid, ericaceous and restioid fynbos dominate, while asteraceous fynbos is rare. Patches of Cape thicket are common in the northern areas; in the south similar habitats are occupied by scrub fynbos. Numerous seeps and seasonally saturated mountain-plateau wetlands (locally called ‘suurvlakte’) are very common and support restioid and ericaceous (dominated by Bruniaceae) fynbos.
Geology & Soils: Acidic lithosol soils derived from Ordovician sandstones of the Table Mountain Group (Cape Supergroup). Deep sandy blankets (whitish, nutrient-poor acidic sand) develop in depressions and on slopes resisting erosion.
Climate: MAP 670–3 000 mm (mean: 1 330 mm), peaking markedly May to August. This region has the highest recorded rainfall in the Cape (see section 2.4.2 of this chapter). Mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures 24.0°C and 6.1°C for February and July, respectively. Frost incidence 2 or 3 days per year. The summit cloud (the ‘Hottentot’s Blanket’) is a regular feature in summer when the Southeaster (part of the global system of trade-winds) brings heavy mist precipitation to the summits and adjacent south-facing and east-facing slopes.
Endemic Taxa: This is the heart of the Cape flora – a true crown jewel of the temperate flora of the world. The species-level endemism is staggering (195) and this vegetation type contains two endemic genera Charadrophila and Glischrocolla. Examples of endemics: Small Tree: Mimetes arboreus. Tall Shrubs: Protea stokoei, Aspalathus globosa, A. stokoei, Cliffortia heterophylla, Liparia calycina, Mimetes hottentoticus, Orothamnus zeyheri.
Conservation: Critically Endangered as it contains 100 Red Data species. Target 30%. The unit is statutorily well conserved (58%) in the Hottentots Holland and Groenlandberg Nature Reserves and especially in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (including Kogelberg and Kleinmond Nature Reserves). An additional 18% protected in the Hottentots-Holland Mountains catchment area. Some 17% transformed (pine plantations, cultivation, urban sprawl and spread of informal settlements). Aliens Pinus pinaster and Hakea sericea have been targeted for clearing, but remain of concern in some areas.
Historical cover 107 km2
Percentage in Cape Town 11.7%
Current area in Cape Town 106.0 km2
Conserved/managed in Cape Town 75 km2
National Ecosystem Status CR: Critically Endangered