Indigenous Plant Species
The present list of indigenous plant taxa that have been
collected in the Vogelgat Nature Reserve includes 965 names.
Thirteen of which are considered RARE.
The plant species list as collected is :
Lichens 29 species
Liverworts 9 species
Mosses 13 species
Total 965 species
Of these over 60 species belong to the Erica family ,
32 are tree species, and 13 parasitic plants.
Of special interest is the occurrence of 24 species
and 14 genera of 6 of the 7 endemic Cape Families viz. Bruniaceae (13 spp.),
Grubbiaceae (2 spp.), Penaeaceae (6 spp), Retziaceae (1 spp.), Roridulaceae (1 spp.)
and Stilbeaceae (1spp).
In peaty seepage’s sites members of these families form distinctive associations
and may even become dominant.
The following are Listed as RARE: (Sas list Barrie Low 1999)
1. Cyrtanthus leucanthus AmaryllidaceaeE
3. Indigofera superba Fabaceae
4. Liparia splendens Fabaceae Liparia Rest/ Psoralea Drip/ Olinia
5. Psoralea aculeata Fabaceae
6. Gladiolus brevifolius Iridaceae After Psoralea Drip – only 4 plants seen
7. Watsonia rogersii Iridaceae
8. Witsenia maura Iridaceae
9. Brachysiphon rupestris Penaceae
10. Sonderothamnus speciosu Penaceae
11. Pseudopentameris brachyphylla Poaceae
12.Mimetes palustris Proteaceae
13.Roridula gorgonias Roridulaceae
The following are listed as Vulnerable
14. Mimetes hirtus Proteaceae
The following are listed as Intermediate
15. Hermania rudis Sterculiaceae
The following are listed as K
16. Metalasia seriphiifolia Asteraceae Olinia Glade & Psoralea
17. Gladiolus humulis Iridaceae
Other rare species discovered in Vogelgat Nature Reserve (Status Uncertain)
18. Apodytes sp Icacinaceae
19. Erica ioniana Ericaceae
20. Lobelia laurentoides Lobeliaceae ( collected by Schlecter 1896!!)
Morea vallisavium Iridaceae
22. Muraltia parva Polygalaceae
23. Pseudobaekia cordata Bruniaceae
24. Tritoniopsis williamsiana Iridaceae Hakea
The following plant species are endemic to the Klein River Mountains
and have been recorded in the Vogelgat Nature Reserve.
FAMILY SPECIES LOCATION
Geissorhiza bryicola Psoralea Drip
26. Erica aristata
27. Erica desmantha var. urceolata
28. Erica fastigiata var.coventryana
29. Erica lanuginosa
30. Aspalathus excelsa
3. Indigofera superba
Penaeaceae 9. Brachysiphon rupestris
31. Stilbe rupestris
32. Leucospermum gracile
12. Mimetes palustris
Paranomus sceptrum-gastavianus is a locally rare species in the Klein River Mountains,
which only occurs as scattered plants
Only a handful of plants of Priestleya calycina
is thought to have all died out within the 10 years after the fire of 1974.
Seen flowering after fire of 1986.
Species introduced into the Reserve
Acocks Veld Type 69 (Macchia) is the predominant veld type on the reserve. Acocks while undertaking his vegetation survey, regarded the area as being in sufficiently pristine condition t be used in his description of the veld type 69, fynbos, including a photograph of the Reserve under this vegetation type.
According to the new vegetation classification for South Africa (Low and Rebelo 1996) one major veld type is recognised in the reserve, viz. Mountain Fynbos (No.64) and the Afromontane Forest (No.2) also occurs in this area.
The reserve includes nearly the entire kloof and catchment of the Vogelgat river on the southern side of the Klein River mountain range.
The vegetation is very similar to that of the neighbouring Fernkloof Nature reserve which is described by Rouke (1976).
The vegetation occurring on the reserve can be subdivided into two main categories
Mesic Mountain Fynbos communities
Forest and riparian vegetation.
The communities were defined by means of floristic analysis, site characteristics and vegetation stratification, averaged over all the releves within a community. A species-binomial and structural system was used to name the communities (De Lange 1993). The dominant, differential species were selected for the species-binomial part, while the structural classification follows the system proposed by Cambell et al. (1981) for vegetation classification in the Fynbos Biome.
Height of Dominant stratum Projective Canopy Cover of dominant stratum (%)
Tall 2m + Closed 75 – 100
Mid-high 1m – 2m Mid-dense 50 – 75
Low 0.25m – 1m Open 25 – 50
Dwarf 0.25m Sparse 5 – 25
Mesic Mountain Fynbos
The general structure of the communities falling within this category is of three distinct layers.
The upper canopy is composed mainly of the families Proteaceae and Bruniaceae, the middle layer of the Bruniaceae and Ericaceae, and lower layers predominantly Restionaceae and Cyperaceae. Smaller herbaceous and geophytic plants are also common at this level.
Indigofera alopecuroides var alopecuroides
It emerges as a separate community in small-localised areas which do not have suitable conditions for the more habitat sensitive species. It occurs on any aspect, within the mid-altitudinal range of between 300m and 500m. Slopes are steep and well drained. Restionaceae are the visually dominant species, with the dark shape of Phanocoma prolifera scattered throughout.
1.1 Brunia alopecuroides – Chondropetalum deustum, Mid -dense, mid-high shrubland
98 102 100 96 97
101 99 95
Erica plukenetii var bicarinata
This community occurs on the limited east-north-east aspects of the reserve at altitude of between 500m and 600m, with the slope varying from gentle (2 degrees) to moderately steep (15 degrees). The soils are well drained, consisting of coarse sand with numerous stones and pebbles (Mispah series). The species richness varies between 9 and 16 species per 5 x 10m releve (De Lange 1993), and is the lowest recorded species richness of all the reserve’s communities. This could be due to the fact that these slopes are particularly hot and dry due to its aspect.
Structurally two layers can be distinguished. The tallest layer (0.75m to 1.5m) is open and dominated by Brunia alopecuroides and Leucodendron xanthoconus. The lower layer (0.25m to 0.50m) is mid-dense, and contains both the Ericaceae type species. Chondropetalum deustum is the dominant restioid. Other common restioids include Restio bifarius and Thamnochortus gracilis. Common ericoid species are Erica aristata and Penaea mucronata. The latter two have a wide distributional range occurring in other communities.
1.2 Chondropetalum ebracteatum, sparse to mid-dense, mid-high to tall shrubland.
Centella eriantha var eriantha
Penaea cneorum ssp rusicfolia
The greater part of the reserve is covered by this community. It has a wide altitudinal range and occurs on most aspects of the reserve. Three sub-communities can be recognised, characterised by specific habitat requirements.
1.2.1 Chondropetalum ebracteatum – Villarsia capensis, Mid-dense, mid-high shrubland
34 61 64 48 53
49 63 60
The community occurs in the north-east section of the reserve at mid (360m) to high altitudes (750m) on the west-south-west to north-west aspects. The characteristic species of the community are those which are diagnostic for the community as a whole. This basic community becomes clearer where the habitat requirement is not met for the habitat sensitive sub-communities.
Structurally there are three layers, namely a mid-high, a lower and a dwarf layer. The mid-high layer is mid-dense, dominated by Leucodendron xanthoconus and Brunia alopecuriodes, both species having a wide habitat range. Restioid and ericoid shrubs dominate the lower layer, particularly the characteristic species, Chondropetalum ebracteatum, which occurs in 75% of the releves describing this community. Other commonly occurring species in this lower level include Thamnocortus pulcher, Nebelia paleacea, Tetraria fasciata and Erica onosmiflora. The dwarf layer is generally sparse to open in density. Commonly occurring species include type species, Villarsia capensis, and the generalist, Anaxeton laeve, both of which occur at low densities.
1.2.2 Erica coccinea var coccinea – Widdringtonia cupressiodes, sparse to mid-dense, mid-high proteoid veld
94 78 79 81 31
80 88 41 51 82
32 43 39 33 50
44 87 56 113
Erica coccinea var coccinea
This sub-community occurs east of the main kloof, with a wide altitudinal range of 150m to 600m, with the main range lying between 150m and 300m. The main aspect of the community varies between south-east and west-south-west. Slopes are moderately steep, well drained and dry. The soils are white, sandy, and shallow with numerous small stones scattered throughout. In places where the shale band has been exposed, Protea lepidocarpodendron becomes dominant. The soils here have a higher clay content and better soil moisture retention than those derive from sandstone. The species richness is one of the highest, with an average of 22 species per 5 x 10m releve, ranging from 16 to 33 species.
Of the type species, Erica coccinea var coccinea occurred in 56% of the releves represented. Hermas depauperata, 50%; Restio perplexus, Euryops abrotanifolius and Widdringtonia cupressiodes 31%.
Three strata can be distinguished. The upper, at between 1.5m and 2m is generally sparse, increasing to mid-dense on moister sites. It is dominated by Widdringtonia cupressiodes, Peneae cneorum, Leucadendron gandogeri, and Leucodendron xanthoconus. Protea lepidocarpodendron, dominates on shale outcrops. The in middle stratum at about 1m is mid-dense, increasing to dense in the absence of the lower stratum on wetter sites. Shrubs, and taller restios are common in this layer, particularly Chondropetalum ebracteatum. The lowest stratum at 0.25m to 0.50m is absent on wet areas, reaching mid-density on drier sites. Restionaceae, Cyperaceae, Poaceae and Ericaceae dominate at this level.
1.2.3 Osmitopsis asteriscoides – Erica perspicua, sparse to mid-dense, mid-high to tall shrubland
118 119 40 45 116
65 117 6 5 4
Disa tripetaloides ssp tripetaloides
Grubbia rosmarinifolia var rosmarinifolia
The community is confined to the upper river courses of the reserve, occurring on a wide range of slopes, varying from gentle to very steep (5 degrees – 10 degrees), and on aspects from south-east to west, similar to the community described above. The altitudinal range is between 300m and 700m. Higher areas are subject to mist rain. Soils are deep, dark brown to black, and humus rich. Although the soil is permanently wet and saturated, the water is not stagnant. Compared to the above-described community, there were fewer species noted, averaging only 13.7 species per releve. A number of type species have high cover abundance values, for example, Osmitopsis asteriscoides and Erica perspicua occurred in 90% and 70% of the releves respectively.
Four strata can be identified. The upper stratum occurs at 1.5m to 3m above ground level, variation depending on the wetness of the site: the wetter the site, the taller and more dense it is varying between sparse and mid-dense. Dominant species in this stratum include Osmitopsis asteriscoides, Brunia alopecuroides, Restio dispar and Brunia albiflora. The intermediate stratum is approximately 1m tall, usually mid-dense, increasing in density on the drier sites where the upper stratum is open. Leucodendron xanthoconus, Erica sessiliflora, Chondropetalum ebracteatum and Erica hispidula dominate. The lower stratum, occurring at between 0.25m and 0.50m varies from mid-dense to dense, and is dominated by restioid and fern species. The lowest stratum occurs at slightly drier. Villarsia capensis and Drosera glabripes dominate.
1.2.4 Restio similis – Hypodiscus argenteus, open, mid-high proteoid veld
12 10 8 7 26
1 89 2 21 47
103 36 37 20 25
27 24 23 22
Erica coccinea var pubescens
The community dominates the western half of the reserve, occurring within the middle altitudinal range of the reserve at between 200m and 670m, on dry sites. The aspect varies between north to south – east, with the south east aspect dominating. Slopes are moderate, but can become very steep in places. Species richness varies between seven and 24 with and average of 18,3 species per 5 x 10 m releve.
The type species, Restio similis, occurs in the greatest percentage (47) of the 19 releves sampled in the community; Restio bifarius in 37 %; Hypodiscus argenteus and Staberoha banksii in 32 %. The cover abundance value of these species is generally low (one to two). In places the type species increases in cover abundance value, becoming mid-dense, particularly at the higher altitudinal range (above 400 m) of the community.
Structurally, two distinct layers are formed in the mature vegetation: a mid-high, open upper layer (1,0 m – 1,5 m) dominated by the thin small leafed Aulax umbellata, and a lower layer mid-dense layer dominated by restioid and ericacious shrubs.
1.3 Aulax umbellata – Protea repens, mid-dense, mid-high proteoid veld
114 111 115 110 112
104 28 105 120 29
Erica cerinthoides var cerinthoides
Erica tenella var gracilior
Leucadendron spissifoilum var spissifolium
Merciera tenuifolia var aurea
The community is limited to south to south-west aspects at low altitudes of between 150 m and 300 m. Slopes vary from gentle (5 degrees) to steep (30 degrees). The sandy soil is littered with stones, with a rock cover of 5 – 10 % and well drained with low water retention.
Of the ten sampled releves, the type species Blaeria ericoides, occurred in 50 %; Leucospermum gracile, Aspalathus serpens and Erica tenella var gracilior in 40 % and Retzia capensis in 30 %. The community has one of the highest species richness of all the identified communities, averaging 23,4 species per 5 x 10 m releve, varying between 14 and 30 species.
Two structural layers can be distinguished within the community. The upper stratum (1 m to 1,5 m) is mid-dense. The lower stratum at between 0,25 m and 0,75, is open, increasing to mid-dense shere Protea repens, as opposed to Aulax umbellata, dominates the upper stratum. It is dominated by restios.
1.4 Erica onosmiflora – Brunia alopecuroides, mid-dense, low to mid-high ericoid and restioid veld
70 67 71 54 57
59 55 68 62 66
Ceratocaryum argenteum (was Willdenowia)
Diastella divaricata ssp montana
Erica coccinea var inflata
The community occurs in the north-eastern part of the Reserve where it is confined to the upper altitudes (520 m to 700 m) on moderate to steep slopes (10 degrees – 30 degrees). The aspect is predominantly south-west, but varies from south-west to north on stoney soils.
Metalasia cymbifolia is the main type species of the community, occurring at a low cove abundance value of one, in 90 % of the ten sampled releves. The other diagnostic species, Ceratocaryum argenteum occurred in 50 %, with a cover abundance value of two: Erica coccinea vari inflata occurred in 40 %, with a cover abundance value of one. The remaining seven types species occurred in only 10 % of the sampled releves, with a cover abundance value of one. The number of species per releve averaged 21,7, with a range of between 14 and 27.
Structurally, three levels can be recognised in the mature community. The upper stratum, often absent on drier sites, reaches a height of between 1 m and 1,5 m. It is sparse in density, dominated by Thesium euphorbioides, Erica onosmiflora, Saltera sarcocolla, and Brunia alopecuroides. The intermediate layer is mid-dense, between 0,75 m and 1 m tall, dominated by restioid and ericioid shrubs. The lower stratum at 0,25 m to 0,50 m in height, is mid-dense in the absence of the upper stratum, dropping to spars. Ericoid and restioid species are common.
B. Forest and Riparian Communities
1. Passerina vulgaris – Pentaschistis capensis, sparse to open, mid-high to tall shrubland
The community occurs at low altitudes (50 m to 100 m above sea level), generally within a limited range of aspects (south to west-south-west). It can also occur at low altitudes on east-north-east aspects.
Two sub-communities can be identified, namely Protea nitida – Protea repens sparse, tall Waboomveld and Psoralea aculeata – Phylica buxifolia sparse to open, mid-high to tall ericoid shrubland. A possible third sub-community can be identified
This community is limited to low altitudes (50 m – 100 m) and south to west-south-west aspects.
1.1 Protea nitida – Protea repens, sparse, tall Waboomveld
14 15 13 18
The aspect on which the community occurs is only east-north-east at low altitudes (50 – 100 m) in the kloof: The slope is moderately steep. Soils are relatively deep and sandy. The average number of species per releve is high for the Reserve at 30,5, varying between 27 and 34.
The type species, Protea nitida, is visually dominant in the community, giving it a characteristic blue/grey colour. It has a high cover abundance value (three), and occurred in all the sampled releves. The other type species, Knowltonia capensis, Diospyros glabra, Tephrosia capensis, Pelargonium longicaule and Eriospermum nanum are commonly occurring species.
Structurally there are three distinct layers. The tall upper layer at a height of 3 m to 5 m, is sparse and dominated by the type species Protea nitida. The middle layer is dominated by Protea repens and Passerina vulgaris.This is a dense layer reaching a height of between 1,5 m and 2 m. The lower layer, at between 0,50 m and 0,75 m dominated by grasses, restios and Erica imbricata. It is a mid-dense layer.
2 Psoralea aculeata – Phylica buxifolia sparse to open, mid-high to tall ericioid veld
76 73 17 83 19
75 74 107
This community occurs mainly on south-south-west to west-south-west aspects of the kloof at low altitudes of between 40 m to 100 m. The slope varies from gentle to very steep. The number of species per releve varies from 11 to 26, with an average of 17,1.
No one type species is particularly dominant in the community. Phylica buxifolia is the most commonly occurring of the type species.
Two layers can be distinguished in the mature vegetation. The upper layer at between
1 m and 2,5 m, is sparse to open in density. The lower layer, between 0,50 m and 0,75 m, is mid-dense to dense, dominated by Erica hispidula, restios and grasses.
2.1 Curtisia dentat – Ilex mitis closed, tall kloof forest
It occurs on south-south-west aspects, at an altitude from 100 m to 250 m. Only 13 species were recorded in the releve.
The more rapid weathering of the shale band is the Table Mountain Sandstone provides deeper soils than those of in situ weathered sandstones, sometimes resulting in steep-sided ravines, particularly where the shales meet the lower sandstones (Boucher 1978). These steep walls provide the forest with a degree of protection from fires. The forests are thus limited in extent, occurring only in the protective kloofs along the water courses. One releve of 10 x 20 m was used to sample the community.
Rumohra adiantiformis, Blechnum tabulare (both types species for the community) and Todea barbara are common components of the interior ground cover (cover abundance value two), attaining heights up to 0,75 m. They do not build up large amounts of litter, thus help to keep fires out of the forest (Boucher 1978).
The canopy is closed, and varies in height between 10 m and 15 m. Other species typical of the forest include Olea capensis ssp capensis, Rapanea melanophloeos, Pterocelastrus rostratus and Maytenus acuminata (cover abundance value two). Another discontinuous, sparse shrub layer occurs at between 1 m and 3 m, comprising mainly of tree saplings.
The Podocarpus-Rapanea Shale forest described by Boucher (1978) for the Cape Hangklip area can be compared to this community.
3. Erica caffra – Blechnum capense open, mid-high riverine veld
Ehrharta rehmanni var filiformis
This community occurs as a narrow stripe along river courses above and below the forest community described above. The altitude varies from 40 m to 280 m, on south-south-east aspects.
There is not physical protection for the community against fire, and it burns on a similar rotation as that experienced by the fynbos communities. Thirteen to 14 species were recorded per releve.
The vegetation is much lower than that of the forest, reaching a height of 2 m to 5 m, and is mid- dense. Erica caffra and Empleurum unicapsulare are dominant. A lower layer of 0,50 m to 0,75 m is mid-dense with Blechnum capense and Prionium serratum being dominant. Mosses form a sparse ground layer (0 m – 0,10 m).
The tall fynbos of the rocky streams under the riparian vegetation of the Cape Hangklip area (Boucher 1978) can be compared to this community.
Summary of vegetation communities
A total of 13 communities and sub-communities were identified, indicating a great diversity of habitats within the Reserve. Each community had its own environmental requirements. Aspect, altitude and soil moisture appears to be particularly important in this regard.
The vegetation was divided into two broad categories:
1/ Mesic Mountain Fynbos
2/ Forest and riparian communities
Of the forest and riparian communities, the forest had distinct physical boundaries, which offered protection from fire. Soils here were generally deeper than those in the rest of the Reserve, mainly as a result of exposure and eroding of the shale band.
The mesic mountain fynbos communities were divided into groups, namely those of the steep kloof slopes and the rest of the reserve. These communities vary in complexity depending on such environmental factors as altitude, aspect, slope and moisture conditions. Communities on wetter sites generally had lower species richness.
Description of vegetation types
Acocks Veld Type 69 is the predominant veld type on the reserve with very small areas of Veld Type 4 (Knysna Forest).
According to the new vegetation classification for South Africa (Low and Rebelo 1996), one major vegetation type is recognised in the reserve, Mountain Fynbos (No.64) and only very small areas of Afromontane Forest (No 2).
Dominant vegetation types
Acocks Veld Type 69 (Macchia)
Vegetation type 64 (Mountain Fynbos) (Low and Rebelo 1996)
Second most dominant vegetation type
Knynsa Forest (Veld Type 47, Acocks; Vegetation Type 4, Low and Rebelo 1996)
Number of vegetation types