Proteas on Table Mountain

The best hike for seeing Proteas on Table Mountain is up Nursery Ravine. This is a steep route that ascends the mountain above Kirstenbosch Gardens.

The first half of this route is in the indigenous forest found on this side of the mountain. Throughout the year the small stream along side the path runs and the shade provided by the magnificent trees are always welcome. Although you won’t see any Proteas on this first part of the hike the trees themselves are wonderful. Varying from huge and ancient rooiels and yellow wood to newly seeded bladdernut trees. The path winds its way between them always keeping the stream on the left hand side.

Nursery Ravine. Table Mountain

Hiking through the trees of Nursery Ravine

About 40 minutes into the climb the path leads to the right away from the river and gets above the treeline. Almost immediately you will begin to see stands King Proteas right up against the path. This is the National flower of South Africa and instantly recognisable for its size and beauty.

 

A king Protea on Table Mountain

The National flower of South Africa

 

Well adapted for life during the hot dry summers of the Cape. The King Protea has a long tap root that reaches deep down to the underground aquafers. Nearer the surface a cluster of dense lateral roots just under the leaf litter enhance nutrient uptake. The tough leathery surface of the leaves and their angle reduces moisture loss through evaporation.

Another important adaptation of the King Protea is the presence of many buds on the thick underground stems. These survive the frequent fires in the area and produce new growth following a fire.

Protea walks on Table Mountain

Looking down Nursery Ravine with Protea buds in the foreground

For the rest of the climb King Proteas line the path. From late December through January the buds begin to show. These open from mid February on and are a sight to behold.

Contact us for more information on hiking trails of Table Mountain.