You’ve never seen a field of flowers like the patchwork blankets that bloom every year throughout Namaqua West Coast. Look a little closer to that desert area too and in the windswept silence you’ll discover the seething life on the fascinating crust of the open plain.
No wonder it’s world renowned for its spectacular bio-diversity. A vast number of plant species – many endemic – are represented in the region’s fynbos, salt marshes, vygieveld, gannabosveld, renosterveld and strandveld.
The Knersvlakte is one of the richest and most diverse succulent regions in the world. Its miniature succulents come in all shapes and sizes, and are known colloquially by names like baba-boudjies, krapogies and vingers-en-duimpies.
Every spring visitors flock to the southern Namaqualand when veld bursts into flower after the winter rains. Vygies are the dominant succulent family, and create dramatic mass displays of oranges and purples.
Don’t overlook the soil lichen! These delicate fungal and algae structures function as a single plant and are easily missed in a landscape of towering mountains and vast plains. But, here too the southern Namaqualand has a unique heritage. Soil lichens form a delicate layer of plant material on the soil’s surface and help to protect the soil from wind and water erosion.
Did you know?
The Knersvlakte is home to a third of the world’s dwarf succulents. It also has one of the largest concentrations of endangered plant species in the world. Namaqualand has some 35 different lichens and possibly even more, with more than half being endemic to the region.
The flower season is a completely natural occurrence affected by the vagaries of climate. It usually starts at the end of July and comes to an end early in October. Winter rainfall patterns have a direct impact on the quality and duration of the season while hot easterly winds can shorten the lifespan of the blooms.
Leucoptera nodosa is a rare succulent shrub that belongs to the daisy family. It has been observed in only seven locations in the strandveld between Hondeklipbaai and Lamberts Bay.