The Temperate House is now home to Continents Apart, a display focusing on the floristically rich Cape region of South Africa and that of Southwest Australia. Over three-quarters of all plants growing in these fire-dependent environments grow wild nowhere else on earth.
With so many exotic and unusual flowering plants, including the King and Pincushion Proteas from South Africa, and the Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea) and aptly-named Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus) from Australia, the new plantings provide a horticultural display to excite the eye.
When flowering plants first appeared, Australia and South Africa were conjoined as part of the supercontinent called Gondwana, which started to break up around 180 million years ago. Continents Apart also explores how plant families that originated in Gondwana and are still common to Australia and South Africa, like Proteaceae, evolved once these land masses drifted apart. Both floras also exhibit a fascinating dependency on bushfire for regeneration.