Renosterveld


Amongst the many wine estates region which includes L'Olivier Wine & Olive Estate lies the Bottelary Hills Renosterveld Conservancy. Renosterveld is a threatened type of vegetative habitat (like fynbos) that is in very low supply. It is threatened by human beings, pollution, imbalances in the biodiversity of the region it occupies, and the threat of being dominated by fynbos. This floral region boasts about 9 000 different plant species, well over two-thirds of which are endemic.

The very fertile soils make this conservancy fabulous for grazers. Some of its residents include mountain zebra and leopard, as well as a number of antelope and the caracal, porcupine, Cape clawless otter, bat-eared fox, small spotted genet, mongoose, Cape cobra, and Cape girdled lizard. Because of the number of endangered species within the area, there are major efforts to continue in the conservation and protection of the vegetation and wildlife of Bottelary Hills.

Within the conservancy are a number of mountain biking trails. These are all located on private property (which also includes L'Olivier Wine & Olive Estate), so there are strict rules in place for those wanting to explore the area on their bikes. There is a great variety of trails, and there is sure to be a trail that suits your abilities and needs. The magnificence of the surrounding vistas makes any cycling trail a truly memorable one for its idyllic backdrop.

Along with Fynbos, Renosterveld is a dominant vegetation type in the Cape Floristic Region and the most threatened. While Fynbos grows on sandy nutrient-poor soils, Renosterveld tends to occur on more fertile and fine-grained shale, granite or silcrete derived soils where rainfall is a moderate 350 to 650 mm/year.

When differentiating between Renosterveld and Fynbos, it is usually easiest to refer to habitat (which considers geology and rainfall) rather than species composition. A rule of thumb is that the typical Fynbos families Ericaceae, Proteaceae and Restios tend to be uncommon in Renosterveld.

Renosterveld derives its name from the renosterbos, a member of the daisy family which is the most characteristic species found in this vegetation type. Renoster is afrikaans for Rhinoceris and the name Renosterbos was probably originally associated with the plant being food of the Black Rhinoceros or the plants similar grey appearance to Rhinoceros hide. The Black Rhinoceros was relatively common in this region in the past. Renosterveld together with succulent karoo and fynbos make up the fynbos biome. Renosterveld shows a strong resemblance to fynbos but it lacks restioids, proteoids are extremely rare and it grows on clay-rich soils that are always less sandy and more fertile than fynbos soils.

At rainfall levels above about 800 mm/year soils are leached and Renosterveld vegetation becomes dominated by Fynbos elements. Where the rainfall is less than 250 mm it is replaced by one of the Succulent Karoo vegetation types. Both vegetation types are characterised by very high species diversity. The Bottelary Hills Conservancy flora is primarily made up of Renosterveld, characterized by the dominance of members of the Daisy Family (Asteraceae), specifically one species Renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis), from which the vegetation type gets its name.