Tuesday, 12. November 2019
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Photographs: Mariana Delport and Rosette Jordaan
Text: Mariana Delport
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Eco-Information on the Western Cape, South Africa.
The Succulent Karoo is one of 25 internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots, and the only arid hotspot in the world. Succulent Karoo has the highest number of plant species of any semi-arid area, many of which are rare and endangered, and has the richest succulent flora in the world.
Semi-desert climatic conditions prevail, with less than 250mm of rainfall per year that falls predominantly in winter. Vegetation is sparse, dominated by dwarf scrubs of which most have succulent leaves. The most common of its succulent, or fleshy leaved plants are mesembs (Mesembryanthemaceae), commonly known as 'vygies'.
There are more than 2 000 different species of mesembs in South Africa, of which many occur in the Western Cape. Other succulent families include the Aloes, Haworthias, Crassulas, Euphorbias and Stapeliads. The Succulent Karoo is also very rich in geophytes, with spectacular displays in spring.