Fynbos - pronounced fain-boss - is the vegetation that is found growing naturally on the the mountains and coastal plains of south-western tip of South Africa. It is unique to this area. The name comes from the Dutch fijn and bosch meaning fine bush referring to the very small leaves and flowers of many of the species. Fynbos makes up 80% of the Cape Floristic Region (often called the Cape Floral Kingdom).
Fynbos is characterized by the presence of four main plant groups: Restios, proteas, heaths and geophytes, as well as seven plant families that only occur in fynbos.
What's so special about fynbos?
Fynbos is amazingly diverse and exceptionally rich in species, and it occupies a relatively tiny area of land. Over 7,000 species occur in 41,000 km, and 80% of them occur nowhere else on Earth.
The Cape Peninsula alone has 2,600 species - that's more than the total number of species in the British Isles - crammed into an area smaller than London.
Compare species diversity with other heathland communities in Australia and the California, and with the rest of South Africa:
- Cape Floristic region - 94 species per 1,000 km
- Australia - 14 species per 1,000 km
- California - 12 species per 1,000 km
- The rest of S. Africa - 8 species per 1,000 km
When you walk through fynbos you can discover a new species with every step.