African Fynbos

The fynbos is a Mediterranean system with a climate characterized by annual precipitation occurring in winter and dry,drought-like conditions in summer. This schlerophyllous system encompasses approximately 90,000 square kilometers (34,749 square miles) and is home to 8,600 vascular plant species, of which 68% are endemic. The name fynbos comes from the Africaans words fine and bush referring to the type and composition of plant species. Soils in the region are some of the most nutrient poor of any Mediterranean system and nitrogen (N) cycling is a slow process in stands of natural vegetation. Many native fynbos species actually show a decrease in growth when N levels increase, which makes it highly susceptible to invasion by alien shrub species that are N fixing. Invasive species in the fynbos also alter fire frequencies due to fuel load increases of over 50%.