Cape Town trip

stevejohnDecember 1, 2003

My wife and I are going to Cape Town in Feb. for vacation and I was wondering if anyone could point me in the direction of good nurseries to visit and what the process is for getting plants back to the states--thanks

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Sowth Efrikan

I'm not sure you can just bring plants back to the states - concerns about diseases/goggas etc.

I do know of friends who have sneaked plants into the states in their handbags, but customs tend to get hysterical about all kinds of things, including our favourite food, biltong.

Check it out carefully. You might want to ring homeland security direct to ask your questions.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2003 at 5:55PM
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Sowth Efrikan

PS Keith Kirsten has a very reputable nursery chain, as far as I know it has branches in the Cape, too.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2003 at 6:02PM
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cjhin(Gauteng ZA)


Visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, they have an indigenous nursery and garden center. You will find that most other nurseries (such as Keith Kirsten's) have a very limited indigenous selection. Even if you decide not to take plants back, do visit Kirsenbosch, it is spectacular!


    Bookmark   December 2, 2003 at 2:37AM
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Hi Steve,

Since I saw this message on the succulents forum I assume that you are mainly after these plants.
Forget Keith Kirstens or any chain nursery for that matter, they don't know one 'cactus' from another.

A visit to Kirstenbosch is a must, I am sure you have planned this into your tour already.
I'd recommend before you pay the entrance fee, go to the information counter inside and sign up as a member of the Botanical Society. Besides getting free entry into all National Botanical Gardens (there is another one in Worcester worth a visit), as a member you will also get the quarterly journal Veld & Flora, as well as an annual free seed allocation.
By the way, the Kirstenbosch Nursery has closed down. They never had many succulents for sale anyway.

Sheilams Nursery just outside Robertson (on the road to Ashton - Montagu) has a large garden with many mature caci and succulents. I am not sure if they do provide the necessary documentation to export / import plants. They sell some seed, too.

The Kern Nursery in Vanrhynsdorp does have lots of very nice, unusual succulents for sale (as well as seed), but does not provide permits.

Worcester BG sells succulents and seed, but does not provide any permits either.

It is getting increasingly difficult to get plants out of this country. The least you would have to have is a phytosanitary certificate, as well as a CITES permit for any CITES I plants (e.g. any Aloes). The Western Cape Nature Conservation has the toughest regulations, I think you would need an export permit as well.
CITES permits can take forever to obtain, that's why not many nurseries (if any) want to be bothered anymore with exporting section I plants.

Your best bet would be to get seeds. You might want to contact Rachel at Silverhill Seeds, they are in Cape Town.
The requirements for importing on your side of course you will have to find out over there.

Have a great holiday! :-)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2003 at 2:22PM
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Thanks for all the responses, particularly you Maddy. Yes, we are planning a visit to Kirstenbosch--it may be the highlight of the trip for me. I have ordered seeds from Silverhill in the past--mostly things they rate as z7 hardy to try outside. No luck getting anything to overwinter yet. It sounds like I will have to just look when in Capetown (we are also planning a short trip to Namaqualand) and make note of the plants I want and then order them from nuseries over here...

    Bookmark   December 3, 2003 at 10:41AM
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jimmb(Michigan US)


Some of the nurseries will get the phyto certificate for you. As of last winter (SA -- summer up north), it cost 150 R. They wash the bulbs and get the certificate that you then present to customs, at least here in the US. You can also arrange for them to mail you the bulbs at a later date, and in my experience they sail through customs via mail as long as the phyto certificate is attached. This is a great option for those bulbs or plants that are not ready to take now.

You might want to take a run over to Napier to see Cam and Rhoda McMaster ( They have an amazing collection of SA natives, including summer and winter rainfall, succulents, and more. It will take you a day to get there and back (including time to visit, talk and arrange an order), but in addition to seeing their nursery and getting loads of info, it's your best chance to see the endangered Blue Crane (if you're into birds) and others such as white storks. You can write them in advance and get their catalog so you have some idea of whether their collection matches your interests.

Enjoy. I won't get back to CT until the North American summer, just in time for the Cape squalls. You're going at the perfect time. Take sunblock!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2003 at 8:28AM
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cjhin(Gauteng ZA)


I see in the latest Veld & Flora (publication of the Botanical Society of SA) that the Kirstenbosch Garden Centre is now open selling indigenous plants. Don't miss that one!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2003 at 2:27AM
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