South Africa is climatically and geomorphically diverse, including desert, semi-desert, subtropical forest, afromontane forest, savanna and Mediterranean type ecosystems. At present there are 9 defined biomes: Fynbos; Succulent Karoo; Desert; Nama-Karoo; Grassland; Savanna; Albany Thicket; Indian Ocean Coastal Belt; Forests. As a result, South Africa is botanically extremely rich and varied. At present there are some 35000 recorded plant species (including Cryptogams), making South Africa the richest flora in Africa and the sixth worldwide.
The southern tip of South Africa is a Mediterranean type ecosystem called the Fynbos biome or Cape Floristic Region. This is the smallest (0.08% land surface) of the six Floral Kingdoms of the world, but comprises 3 % of the world’s flora. Of the 8 700 Fynbos species, 68% are endemic to the region. Other species rich areas are the Karoo biomes, which are particularly important for succulent plants. Many horticultural species have their origin in South Africa like Pelargonium (colloquially called “geraniums”), Gerbera, Osteospermum, Clivia , Agapanthus, amongst others.
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