Botany course Location:

    Course 1 (12-days 3 credits) takes place in the Western and Eastern Cape
    Region. Starting in Cape Town (discover the flora of Table Mountain & then and
    ending in the Tsitsikamma National Forest.

    Course 2 (17-days 4 credits) also starts in Cape Town and includes the
    Tsitsikamma National Forest but ends in the Drakensberg Mountains region.

    Course 3 (20-days 4.5 credits) starts in Cape Town includes the Tsitsikamma
    National Forest and the Drakensberg Mountains region and ends in Swaziland.

    Site Description:

    Cape Town:
    Founded in 1913, Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants. The
    estate covers 528 hectares and supports a diverse fynbos flora and natural
    forest. The cultivated garden (36 hectares) displays collections of South African
    plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country. People
    used Kirstenbosch long before the arrival of the European settlers in the 17th
    Century.  In 1660 a hedge of wild almond (Brabejum stellatifolium) and brambles
    was planted to form the boundary of the colony. Sections of this hedge, known as
    van Riebeeck’s hedge still exist in Kirstenbosch.

    Table Mountain offers breathtaking views over the city and its beaches (the
    panorama stretches from Table Bay to False Bay and around the mountain to the
    Hout Bay Valley and Kommetjie - On a clear day one has a magnificent view
    across the Cape Flats to the Hottentots Holland Mountains). The mountain is
    sculpted from sandstone and it rises 1086 metres above the bay. Its flat summit
    measures nearly 3km from end to end. The mountain is home to approximately
    1470 species of plants. Many of these are endemic, i.e. appearing nowhere else
    on earth. Included is the rare Silver Tree and the wild orchid Disa Uniflora.

    Tsitsikamma National Park is situated at the heart of the picturesque region
    known as the Garden Route, found along the Indian Ocean Coastline of South
    Africa. Tsitsikamma is a Khoisan (the early inhabitants of the area) word
    meaning, “place of much water.” The Park incorporates 80 km of rocky coastline
    with spectacular sea and landscapes, a remote mountainous region with
    secluded valleys covered in mountain Fynbos (proteas and heath) and temperate
    high forests with deep river gorges leading down to the sea.

    The Drakensberg Mountain range divides the eastern central portion of South
    Africa. From almost the source of the Orange River (but truly at Cathedral Peak)
    to Thabana Ntleyana the highest point in Southern Africa (3482 meters) near
    Sani Pass (at the top of which is the small landlocked country of Lesotho) to the
    end at Sehlabathebe National Park. Our journey takes us to the central "Berg". A
    total of 2153 species of plants have been described in the area, including 1993
    species of Angiosperms, 5 Gymnosperms, 70 Ferns and 85 Mosses. Among
    these, 109 are internationally threatened and 109 national threatened. A
    remarkable feature of the area is the large number of endemic species (394
    species recorded for the Drakensberg Alpine Region).

    The vegetation of Swaziland varies from open grassland to forest and from semi-
    arid savanna to wetlands. Knowledge of plant diversity in Swaziland is based on
    the collection of herbarium specimens in the country. This diversity is only known
    at the species, sub-species or variety level, with little or no information available
    on intraspecies diversity. The richness of Swaziland's flora is illustrated by the
    comparison of the flora currently recorded for Swaziland with that of the flora of
    Southern Africa, where, despite its small size, Swaziland contains almost 14
    percent of the taxa recorded from the region. Work is currently being carried out
    on the updating of the Swaziland Flora Checklist, with a provisional total of 3400
    species, 157 of these being naturalised exotics. This includes the first listing of
    bryophytes, which still require much collection (3-week to 3-month internships for
    graduate students can be arranged for the collection process).
    Conservation of plant diversity in Swaziland is primarily in the form of nature
    reserves, whose objectives are the conservation of the indigenous flora and
    fauna; and private reserves whose objectives usually do not specifically include
    the conservation of plant diversity but do provide some level of protection to the
    flora. There are also a number of private farms where a high diversity of flora is
    protected, although this protection is also based on the goodwill of the
    landowners. Our course takes us on a scavenger hunt to one of these private
    sanctuaries.