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posted on 16 May 2013
The Cape Floral Kingdom – the richest floral kingdom in the world – is on the verge of bloom again this year. The area, covering about 50 000 square-kilometres, is broken up into eight flower districts. Each of these districts boasts its own unique array of plants and flowers, but also a unique insect and animal biodiversity.
There is one spot within the floral kingdom, however, that is truly blessed. The Cederberg district is a unique in that it is situated at a point where four of the eight floral districts meet, so you don’t just get the best of both worlds; you get the best of four worlds. And it’s not just a blend of the best springtime flowers from these four districts – you get the best of the flora, as well as the fauna!
This year’s annual Clanwilliam Wildflower Show, which will open its doors to the public from 29 August to 8 September, will pay tribute to the unsung heroes of the floral spectacular: the millions of tiny creatures that pollinate these plants. Birds, bugs, insects, rodents – you name it, every living creature found within the floral kingdom plays its own unique role in the pollination of the flowers, ensuring their survival for generations to come. But it is a fine balance, an ecosystem so sensitive to change that it literally is balanced on a knife’s edge.
This years wildflower show will not only include the more than 400 plant and flower species that have graced Clanwilliam’s historic Blommekerk for four decades – this year it will include a UV display, so that visitors can get a taste of what the flowers look like to the creature that pollinate them. Hand glasses will also be provided so that people can truly get “up close and personal”!
By doing this, the Clanwilliam Wildflower Society wants to show visitors another side to the magic of the floral bloom and to make them aware of the fragile and inseparable relationship between the flowers and the creatures that live among them.
“Without one, you lose the other,” said Sue Bergh, chairperson of the Clanwilliam Wildflower Society. “If a plant species dies off in a certain area, so will the pollinators in that same area – and visa versa. If a pollinator is accidentally wiped out by careless pesticide usage in a specific region, you will see that the plants it pollinated would also die out.”
It is this sensitive nature of the Cederberg biodiversity that will be on display this year. Over the past year the show’s organisers have been delving deep in to the relationships between the flowers and their pollinators, and they want to show the public just how important these links are.
“We have a unique ecosystem here because of the merge between the four floral districts,” said Bergh. “But, over the past 20 years or so, we’ve seen a 300 percent increase in the number of threatened species because of the impact of large scale farming in the area. This impact is not just on the flowers, but on the countless tiny creatures that share this region with them – and we want to show everyone who walks through the doors this year just why it is so important that we protect this unique biodiversity.”
The Clanwilliam Wildflower Show opens doors to the public from August 29th until September 8th. Tickets range from R5 to R30 and are available from the door. For more information about the show, visit www.clanwilliamwildflowerfestival.co.za, or call the Clanwilliam Tourism Office on 027 482 2024.