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The Proteas of Stonehaven: Discover The Most Diverse Microbiome in The World

Preservation of the indigenous plant and birdlife is the top priority for the founders of Stonehaven Farm. Our beautiful, cosy and conscious Eco-cabins Earth, Heaven and Stars are all placed in the middle of the original fynbos landscape. Guests will be inspired by the 300 million-year-old Proteas while meandering through the farm’s Protea Walk. 

What is Fynbos? 

The name originates from an Old Dutch word meaning ‘fine bush’. It refers to all the plants associated with the mountains of South Africa’s Cape region, made of ancient sandstone. Fynbos vegetation doesn’t look very impressive, but at a closer look, you will find an astonishing number of mesmerising plant species that bloom every month of the year!

What Makes Fynbos so Special?

Fynbos is the most studied vegetation type outside of Europe. Generations of scientists – including Charles Darwin, were enthralled by the diversity and long lifespan of the plant species. Moreover, fynbos landscapes have been undisturbed by major catastrophes (for example, an Ice Age) and had the time to adapt to every micro-environment. This time has resulted in the world’s most diverse plant habitat – even more varied than tropical rainforests. 

Fynbos and Fire

Some two million years ago, there was a drought and fire was introduced to these windy mountains with high weather temperatures. Flames destroyed all the trees, and in their place came fynbos plants. Many of which had been waiting underneath the surface since the dinosaurs! Today fire, wind, sun, few nutrients and little water are prime conditions for fynbos plants. 

Fynbos plants need fire to complete their life cycle: dead plant material is burned and recycles nutrients back into the impoverished soil; the intense heat opens tightly-sealed seed-cones and triggers underground bulbs into growth. Chemicals such as ammonia act as stimulants for many protea species to burst into leaves and bloom. Within a week, one can see green shoots emerging from the charred sand. After a few months, the landscape is awash with colour as thousands of flowering plants take advantage of the post-fire environment. 

The Protea

One of the most famous fynbos plants is the protea, named after Proteus, son of Poseidon and shape-shifter, highlighting the variety of plants found within the sizable Proteaceae family. The King Protea, named because it resembles a crown, is the largest of all proteas in the Cape Floristic Region. The flower appears on South African birth certificates and passports and the South African 5-Rand coin, and the Proteas, South Africa’s cricket team, also took its name from the genus.

Why Conserve Fynbos? 

Protecting the fynbos landscape is vital for the biodiversity of these mountains and keeps the environment healthy and natural. Alien tree species such as pines and blue gums are the most significant threat to the fynbos micro-biome. Fynbos covered mountains are responsible for delivering one in five glasses of water in South Africa. Fynbos allows up to 80% of the rainwater to run off and fill our rivers and reservoirs. 

Discover fynbos plant life for yourself when visiting us at Stonehaven. The ancient beauty of our Proteas is inspiring to all. So whether you want to immerse yourself in nature and unwind or tantalise your creative spirit – Stonehaven Farm welcomes you to our home.