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Cape Flats Sand Fynbos

Distribution: Largely endemic to the City of Cape Town: Cape Flats from Blouberg and Koeberg Hills west of the Tygerberg Hills to Lakeside and Pelican Park in the south near False Bay, from Bellville and Durbanville to Klapmuts and Joostenberg Hill in the east, and to the southwest of the Bottelary Hills to Macassar and Firgrove in the south. Altitude 20–200 m. Nearly 100% of this vegetation type occurs within the City and 85% is transformed.

Vegetation & Landscape Features: Moderately undulating and flat plains, with dense, moderately tall, ericoid shrubland containing scattered emergent tall shrubs. Proteoid and restioid fynbos are dominant, with asteraceous and ericaceous fynbos occurring in drier and wetter areas, respectively.

Geology & Soils: Acid, tertiary, deep, grey regic sands, usually white, often Lamotte form.

Climate: Winter-rainfall regime with precipitation peaking from May to August. MAP 580–980 mm (mean: 575 mm). Mists occur frequently in winter. Mean daily maximum and minimum monthly temperatures 27.1°C and 7.3°C for February and July, respectively. Frost incidence about 3 days per year. This is the wettest and the coolest of the West Coast sand fynbos types.

Endemic Taxa: Low Shrubs: Erica margaritacea, Aspalathus variegata (probably extinct), Athanasia capitata, Cliffortia ericifolia, Erica pyramidalisW, E. turgida, E. verticillata, Leucadendron levisanus, Liparia graminifolia, Serruria aemula, S. foeniculacea, S. furcellata. Succulent Shrub: Lampranthus stenus. Geophytic Herb: Ixia versicolor. Graminoids: Tetraria variabilis, Trianoptiles solitaria.

Conservation: Critically endangered. Target 30%. Less than 1% statutorily conserved as small patches in the Table Mountain National Park as well as some private conservation areas such as Plattekloof 430 and Blaauwberg Hill. This is the most transformed of the sand fynbos types—more than 85% of the area has already been transformed (hence the conservation target remains unattainable) by urban sprawl (Cape Town metropolitan area) and for cultivation. Most remaining patches are small pockets surrounded by urban areas, for example Rondevlei, Kenilworth, Milnerton, 6BKD, Plattekloof, and Rondebosch Common. Most of these patches have been identified as ‘Core Conservation Sites’. They are mismanaged by mowing, fire protection and by alien plant invasion. Mowing eliminates serotinous and taller species, while fire protection results in a few common thicket species (e.g. Carpobrotus edulis, Chrysanthemoides monilifera), replacing the rich fynbos species. Alien woody species include Acacia saligna, A. cyclops and species of Pinus and Eucalyptus. Dumping and spread of alien grasses (both annual and Kikuyu Pennisetum clandestinum) are also a major problem. Alien acacias result in elevated nutrient levels and a conversion to Eragrostis curvula grassland and near-annual fires. Some 94 Red Data sand fynbos plant species occur on the remnants within Cape Town. The endemics include six species listed as extinct in the wild, some of which are being reintroduced from botanical gardens.

Information on Cape Town's vegetation comes from Summarised Descriptions of National Vegetation Types Occurring in the City of Cape Town by Patricia Holmes, Biodiversity Management Branch, July 2008

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