Vegetation and Grasses
- Plant List for Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Structurally, the vegetation of Golden Gate can be divided into grassland and woodland/forest.
The climate is considered to be the major environmental factor that influences the floristic composition and distribution of the vegetation units. The Afromontane forest is restricted to the sheltered ravines and gorges where the necessary moisture level is maintained and the vegetation is protected from unfavourable weather conditions, as well as fire.
While in the valleys and on the south-eastern aspect of some of the slopes, the vegetation is dominated by Leucosidea sericea (ouhout) woodland. Isolated patches of Protea woodland (Protea caffra, P. roupelliae and P. subvestita) also occur.
The two dominant veld types are Highland-Sourveld and the Themeda-Festuca veld. When hiking through the park, one inevitably passes through stands of trees of which the flaking bark and silky-haired leaves are characteristic. These trees are called Oldwood (Ouhout), Leucosidea sericea, because of the ‘old’ appearance of the twisted trunks of the full-grown trees and because the wood burns like old, rotten wood. It is without doubt the most common tree in Golden Gate and belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae). An interesting fact is that no fewer than 117 species of beetles belonging to 35 different families associate with the oldwood in the park.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park is currently the only grassland National Park in South Africa. The park contains over 60 species of grasses and you can find information and pictures on the dominant grass species in the park here.