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Online vegetation of SA info

Posted by cjhin Johannesburg (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 9, 03 at 8:14

Vegetation map

Downloadable version of Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland by Low & Rebelo

Go to the bottom of the page to find the link

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Online vegetation of SA info

  • Posted by cjhin Gauteng ZA (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 10, 03 at 6:26

Second link is broken.

This one works:

RE: Online vegetation of SA info


I love those 2 links. They are great. I've been using them for a month or so, trying to figure out plants from South Africa that can take some frost (hardy through zone 8b or at least 9a).

Does anyone else have leads on such plants? I'm looking for a list or checklist or inventory of South African plants that can take a bit of cold.


RE: Online vegetation of SA info

  • Posted by cjhin Gauteng ZA (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 11, 03 at 3:38

Your best bet would be the Grassveld biome as described in the websites above. This biome has a very diverse and beautiful flora so you won't be short of choices. The area where I live (Krugersdorp)falls in the Rocky Mountain Grassveld and has a very interesting flora. It is a transitional area between the grasslands and the savanna and has elements of both. It lies on the Magaliesberg mountains and in protected gulleys and slopes, trees and shrubs area able to establish and survive. On open areas most saplings are killed by frost or fire, and grasses, herbs and bulbs dominate. If these saplings were protected in the garden for about two or three years they would survive. Only a hand fullof SA trees are truly frost resistant. Rhus lancea (Karee), Celtis africana(White Stinkwood), Acacia caffra (Common Hook Thorn), Leucosidea sericea (Oldwood), Protea caffra (Sugarbush), Diospyros lycioides (Bluebush) and Cussonia paniculata (Highveld Cabbage Tree) come to mind. I would protect these as well just to make sure.

Download the seed lists from silverhill seeds. They have USDA zones included. Make sure zone 8 plants are from summer rainfall areas. The zone 8 and 9 trees and shrubs in the list will have to be protected from frost while still young. Also try to get hold of Ernst Van Jaarsveld's "Wonderful Water-wise Gardening" (or something like that). It covers the biomes of SA and has a section on the highveld (or grassveld) garden. He gives a species list of trees, shrubs, succulents, herbaceous perennials, annuals, grasses etc. that are suited to highveld gardening at the end of the chapter. Most of these plants are on the Silverhill Seeds catalogue.

Below is a link to a list of trees growing in the Witwatersrand Botanical Garden (which is on the Highveld).
Most of these will survive light to moderate frost if protected for the first two or three winters. Also look out for plants from the Drakensberg mountains as these are adapted to winter snow. There are also several books on the plants of the highveld. I am sure you have noticed very little online information is available with regards to SA native plants. Maybe I should find the time to put together an online list of SA plants that can take some frost.


Here is a link that might be useful: Wits Botanical Garden Tree List

RE: Online vegetation of SA info


Thanks for the link to the Witwatersrand Botanical Garden tree list. I've been all through that site but did miss that link. I found the checklists of spiders, birds and reptiles though, great stuff.

Here is one other list of trees (see below), 60 trees from Gauteng. It is fun to read up on the trees. The site is called "Treehouse" and it divides the list of 60 trees into evergreen and deciduous, and provides "frost" ratings. Not all of the trees are rated as "frost hardy" but I suspect many of the trees are hardy in zone 8b/9a. For instance, Acokanthera oppositifolia (Bushman's Poison) is listed and no comment is given about frost hardiness. But the tree is happily proclaimed as frost hardy by (

Believe it or not, I've already gone through Silverhill seed list and compiled some plant lists. One interesting thing is that winter rain plants are fine here (we have year round rain) if they are small and frost-hardy, and go dormant. I can use them in clay pots and put them in the laundry room for summer, after the leaves die down.

Thanks again for the link to Witwatersrand trees. I think I'm going to have to get some books (Wildflowers of the Drakensberg, etc.) if I want to continue the project. Web resources seem limited in terms of lists. I have been able to comb some species out of Lesotho Highland Environmental Impact-type Reports, South Africa seems intent on doing a good job to preserve its floristic heritage.


Here is a link that might be useful: Trees Indigenous to the Gauteng Region

RE: Online vegetation of SA info

regarding possibly cold-hearty s.a. trees i have had encouraging success with are podocarpus henkelii, rapanea melanophloeos, cunonia capensis, greyia sutherlandii---combretium caffra/erythrophyllum survives but prefers a hotter summer. other plants worth considering include widdringtonia and olinia emarginata (good luck finding seed for that species. for hot summer climates i might suggest trying the greyia, combretium, widdringtonia, and possibly acacia caffra and related species. i think the cunonia and rapanea would prefer cooler moist climates.

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