From Boulders Beach The Wandelgek drove north via Simon’s Town and through Glencairn, turning inland to Sun Valley and from there driving north on the Ou Kaapse road through the mountainous Silvermine region to Tokai and continuing through Constantia to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
The name Tokai is derived from the Hungarian Tokaj, a small town which the Wandelgek had visited in 1991. Tokaj is a village or town in eastern Hungary with a famous wine culture. Tokai in South Africa, is also a place of vineyards and here they use the same grapes that originally come from Tokaj.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are not just a Botanical Garden. The Cape province is home to one of the six floral kingdoms in the world.
A phytochorion, in phytogeography, is a geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species. Adjacent phytochoria do not usually have a sharp boundary, but rather a soft one, a transitional area in which many species from both regions overlap. The region of overlap is called a vegetation tension zone.
In some schemes, areas of phytochoria are classified hierarchically, e.g., in Floral (or Floristic, Phytogeographic) Kingdoms, Regions and Provinces, sometimes including the categories Empire and Domain, while others prefer not to rank areas, referring to them simply as “regions” or “phytochoria”.
The systems used to classify vegetation can be divided in two major groups: those that use physiognomic-environmental parameters and characteristics and those that are based on floristic relationships. Phytochoria are defined by their plant taxonomic composition, while other schemes of regionalization (e.g., phytophysiognomies, formations, biomes) may variably take in account, according to the author, the apparent characteristics of a community (the dominat life-form), environment characteristics, the fauna associated, anthropic factors or political-conservationist issues.
Good’s floristic regionalization
Botanist Ronald Good identified six floristic kingdoms (Boreal or Holarctic, Neotropical, Paleotropical, South African, Australian, and Antarctic), the largest natural units he determined for flowering plants. Good’s six kingdoms are subdivided into smaller units, called provinces. The Paleotropical kingdom is divided into three subkingdoms, which are each subdivided into floristic provinces. Each of the other five kingdoms are subdivided directly into provinces. There are a total of 37 floristic provinces. Almost all provinces are further subdivided into floristic regions.
Takhtajan’s floristic regionalization
Armen Takhtajan, in a widely used scheme that builds on Good’s work, identified thirty-five floristic regions, each of which is subdivided into floristic provinces, of which there are 152 in all.
Cape Floristic Region
The Cape Floristic Region is a floristic region located near the southern tip of South Africa. It is the only floristic region of the Cape (South African) Floristic Kingdom, and includes only one floristic province, known as the Cape Floristic Province.
The Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world, is an area of extraordinarily high diversity and endemism, and is home to more than 9 000 vascular plant species, of which 69 percent are endemic. Much of this diversity is associated with the fynbos biome, a Mediterranean-type, fire-prone shrubland. The economical worth of fynbos biodiversity, based on harvests of fynbos products (e.g. wildflowers) and eco-tourism, is estimated to be in the region of R77 million a year. Thus, it is clear that the Cape Floristic Region has both economic and intrinsic biological value as a biodiversity hotspot.
Location and description
Home to the greatest non-tropical concentration of higher plant species in the world, the region is the only hotspot that encompasses an entire floral kingdom, and holds five of South Africa’s 12 endemic plant families and 160 endemic genera. Covering 78,555 km², Cape Floristic Region hotspot is located entirely within the borders of South Africa. It is one of the five temperate Mediterranean-type systems on the hotspots list, and is one of only two hotspots that encompass an entire floral kingdom (the other being New Caledonia). The Region covers the Mediterranean climate region of South Africa in the Western Cape in the southwestern corner of the country, and extends eastward into the Eastern Cape, a transitional zone between the winter rainfall region to the west and the summer-rainfall region to the east in KwaZulu-Natal.
Most of the region is covered with fynbos, a sclerophyllous shrubland occurring on acid sands or nutrient poor soils derived from Table Mountain Sandstones (Cape Supergroup). Fynbos is home to an amazing diversity of plant species including many members of the Protea family (Proteaceae), Heath family (Ericaceae), and Reed family of restios (Restionaceae). Other vegetation types are sandveld, a soft coastal scrubland found mostly on the west-facing coast of the Western Cape Province, on tertiary sands. Renosterveld is a grassy shrubland dominated by members of the Daisy family (Asteraceae – particularly renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis), graminoids and geophytes, occurring on the base-rich shaley soils of the coastal forelands. Small pockets of Afromontane forest (Southern Afrotemperate Forest) can be found in humid and sheltered areas.
The World Wildlife Fund divides the Cape floristic region into three ecoregions, the Lowland fynbos and renosterveld, Montane fynbos and renosterveld and the Albany thickets.
The fynbos ecoregions are designated one of the Global 200 priority ecoregions for conservation. Conservation International declared the Cape floristic region to be a biodiversity hotspot.
It is thought that the Cape Floristic Region is experiencing one of the most rapid rates of extinction in the world due to habitat loss, land degradation, and invasive alien plants.
The guineafowl (/ˈɡɪnifaʊl/; sometimes called “Original Fowl” or guineahen) are a family of birds in the Galliformes order, although some authorities (for example the American Ornithologists’ Union) include the guineafowl as a subfamily, Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae. The guineafowl are native to Africa, but the helmeted guineafowl as wild birds have been introduced elsewhere.
This family of insect and seed-eating, ground-nesting birds resemble partridges, but with featherless heads, though both members of the genus Guttera have a distinctive black crest, and the vulturine guineafowl has a downy brown patch on the nape. Most species of guineafowl have a dark grey or blackish plumage with dense white spots, but both members of the genus Agelastes lack the spots (as do some Wild variants of the helmeted guineafowl). While several species are relatively well known, the plumed guineafowl and the two members of the genus Agelastes remain relatively poorly known. These large birds measure from 40–71 cm (16–28 inches) in length, and weigh 700–1600 grams or 1.5-3.5 pounds.
Behaviour and ecology
The species for which the information is known are normally monogamous, mating for life; however, occasional exceptions have been recorded for the helmeted guineafowl. All guineafowl are social, and typically live in small groups.
Distribution and habitat
Guinea fowl species are found across sub-Saharan Africa, some almost in the entire range, others more localised, such as the plumed guineafowl in west-central Africa and the vulturine guineafowl in north-east Africa . They live in semi-open habitats such as savanna or semideserts, while some, such as the black guineafowl, mainly inhabit forests.
The helmeted guinea fowl has been introduced in East Africa, the West Indies, the United States, Britain and India, where it is raised as food or pets.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch is a famous botanical garden nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town. The garden is one of nine National Botanical Gardens covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes. When Kirstenbosch, the most famous of the gardens, was founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s unique flora, it was the first botanical garden in the world with this ethos. Kirstenbosch places a strong emphasis on the cultivation of indigenous plants.
The garden includes a large conservatory (The Botanical Society Conservatory) exhibiting plants from a number of different regions, including savanna, fynbos, karoo and others. Outdoors, the focus is on plants native to the Cape region, highlighted by the spectacular collections of proteas. Kirstenbosch enjoys great popularity with residents and visitors. From the gardens several trails lead off along and up the mountain slopes and these are much used by walkers and mountaineers. One of the trails, up a ravine called Skeleton Gorge, is an easy and popular route to the summit of Table Mountain. This route is also known as Smuts’ Track after Prime Minister Jan Smuts who used this route regularly. On the slopes above the cultivated parts of the garden a contour path leads through forests to Constantia Nek to the south. The same contour path can be followed to the north for many kilometres and it will take the hiker past the Rhodes Memorial to the slopes of Devil’s Peak and beyond.
Kirstenbosch regularly exhibits Zimbabwean stone sculptures in the gardens. Many of the artists are associated with Chapungu Sculpture Park in Zimbabwe.
In summer, a popular series of outdoor concerts are held in the gardens on Sunday evenings.
Guineafowl as food
Guineafowl is commonly eaten in parts of Africa (notably Ghana especially the northern part of the country, Nigeria and Botswana), India and the United States (notably in the state of Georgia). It is consumed at Christmas in some parts of Central and Northern Europe (notably in Belgium and the UK). It is also eaten in Italy.
Guineafowl meat is drier and leaner than chicken meat and has a gamey flavour. It has marginally more protein than chicken or turkey, roughly half the fat of chicken and slightly fewer calories per gram. Guineafowl eggs are substantially richer than chicken eggs.