Renosterveld on Signal Hill Renosterveld on the Tygerberg

Where does Renosterveld grow?

  • Renosterveld vegetation was originally found throughout the Fynbos Biome (e.g. in the City of Cape Town, Swartland and Overberg).
  • Renosterveld grows on fertile clay soils formed by the weathering of granite and shale rocks.
  • In the City of Cape Town you can find Renosterveld on hills like Blouberg, Durbanville, Tygerberg, Schapenberg and Signal Hill.
  • Renosterveld usually grows in areas that have moderate winter rainfall of 300-600 mm per year. (Mean Annual Precipitation = 370 mm)
  • It can survive relatively frequent fires.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 How did Renosterveld get its name?

Renosterveld literally means “rhinoceros vegetation”. Nobody is sure how the vegetation got its name, but here are three possible explanations:

  • Renosterveld was named after the Black Rhinoceros which used to live in this habitat.

  • The name comes from “renosterbos-veld”. Renosterbos is the most common shrub in Renosterveld. It was named after the Black Rhinoceros because this was the only animal that ate this unpleasant-tasting bush.

  • The dull grey colour of Renosterbos is similar to the colour of rhino hide.

Rhinoceros Renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rooigras (Themeda triandra) Wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus)
What plants grow in Renosterveld?
  • Renosterveld is one of the three main types of vegetation in the Fynbos Biome. However, typical fynbos plants like proteas and ericas are not common in renosterveld.
  • Typical renosterveld plants include:
    • Grasses
    • Shrubs and small trees, e.g. renosterbos, taaibos, wild rosemary, wild olive
    • Geophytes from the iris, amaryllis, hyacinth, orchid and other plant families.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine cup (Geissorhiza radians) Moederkappie (Pterygodium catholicum) Peacock flower (Spiloxene capensis)
Blousuurkanol (Aristea lugens) Moraea (Moraea gawleri) Rooi Afrikaner (Gladiolus watsonius)
Famous for its geophytes
  • Renosterveld is famous for its rich variety of spectacular, rare and endemic geophytes that flower mainly in spring.

 

 

 

 

 

Eland Cape bulbul
Geometric tortoise Oil collecting bee
What animals live in Renosterveld?
  • Renosterveld plants grow on rich soil, which makes them more nutritious than typical fynbos plants. The antelope, zebras, rhinos and elephants that once lived in the Fynbos Biome would have spent most of their time in the Renosterveld, feeding on the grass, herbs and shrubs.
  • The Khoi used to graze their sheep and cattle mainly in the Renosterveld. They burned the veld regularly to stimulate the growth of grass (for grazing) and geophytes, which they ate.
  • Many Renosterveld trees and shrubs produce berries, which attract fruit-eating birds (e.g. bulbuls, white-eyes) and other animals (e.g. tortoises, baboons).
  • During spring, Renosterveld flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators, like bees, flies, beetles and sunbirds.
  • The Geometric Tortoise is a critically endangered, endemic reptile that lives only in lowland Renosterveld. Unfortunately it is now extinct in the City of Cape Town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Map of Renosterveld in the
City of Cape Town - Click!

Conserving the Renosterveld

  • The original inhabitants of the Western Cape, the San and Khoi, used Renosterveld plants for food, medicine and grazing. Because of their relatively small populations and simple lifestyles, they did not cause a great deal of damage to this ecosystem.
  • European settlers established permanent farms and did not migrate with their herds of sheep and cattle like the Khoi herders did. This led to overgrazing of the Renosterveld.
  • The settlers hunted game animals for sport as well as for food. They caused the Bluebuck to become extinct and nearly eradicated the Bontebok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • European farmers introduced new crops like deciduous fruit trees, grape vines, wheat and pasture grasses. They planted these crops in areas with fertile soil (mainly Renosterveld areas). Today more than 80% of Renosterveld has been replaced by crops and pastures.
  • In total, about 97% of lowland Renosterveld has been destroyed by agriculture, invasive alien plants and urbanisation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • In the Cape Floristic Region, less than 2% of Renosterveld vegetation types are formally conserved. These are some of the most threatened types of vegetation in the world!
  • Conservation organisations and volunteers are working with farmers and municipalities to identify, map and protect the remaining precious areas of Renosterveld in the Western Cape. For more information go to