A Protea Flower.

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Port Elizabeth - Fauna

Flora refers to the natural vegetation of an area, which characterises its landscape and plays an integral role in determining what kinds of animals will be found there, since even the carnivores at the top of the food chain will need to eat animals that feed off the vegetation.

Interestingly, the Eastern Cape, in which Port Elizabeth is found, is home to an astounding number and variety of plants.

Every plant in the world has been classified to be in one of six Plant Kingdoms. The Eastern Cape has two of these kingdoms in its classified flora – Fynbos and Palearctic.

Fynbos is a beautiful, hardy type of vegetation, characterised by its small, leathery leaves and vibrantly coloured flowers. Fynbos is only found in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape naturally.

However, some species have been introduced to parts of Australia from South Africa.

Fynbos comprises over 7 700 individual species, which is astounding considering the relatively small area that it occupies. These species include a number of Proteas and Ericas, and even the common geranium. The Cape Sugarbird and the Orange-breasted Sunbird only live in Fynbos, drinking the nectar and acting as instrumental contributors to the pollinating of the flowers. Some of the main threats to Fynbos are the influx of exotic or alien plant species and the unplanned fires that ravage and rage through the relatively flat landscape of the Eastern Cape.

The Palearctic Plant Kingdom is broken up into:

1.Desert – characterised by dry conditions in which plants are hardy and sparse. There is very little precipitation in a desert biome. The plants and animals found here are especially adapted to live under such conditions.
2.Semi-desert – this is a semi-arid biome that supports short scrub and grasses, rather than trees and flowers. The annual rainfall and precipitation is also very low, but remains slightly higher than that of a desert.
3.Afromontane – this biome refers to the areas on the mountains of the Eastern Cape, separated from one another by the lowlands in-between. It is cooler and more humid than the lower-lying areas.
4.Grassland – as its name implies, this is a biome characterised by grasses as well as other non-woody plants. This signifies the ‘middle ground’ between deserts and dense forests, and grasslands are generally found in areas with warm summers and cold winters.
5.Savannah – a savannah is littered with trees that are not close enough to one another to form a canopy over the plants beneath. They receive sunshine and, therefore, yield a wide variety of plants and grasses, in addition to the trees.

Incredibly, the Eastern Cape is home to all of these biomes except Desert.

In terms of common tree species in and around Port Elizabeth, the following feature:

•Oak
•Plane
•Acacia Karoo
•Erythrina Kaffra (also known as the Coral Tree)
•Yellowwood