The Succulent Karoo, spreading across the South African west coast, is a biodiversity hotspot that hosts a high number of plants that cannot be found elsewhere on Earth.
Life in this region evolved under particular circumstances, and scientists at CUBG work on understanding the diversity and the ecology of its flora. The Glass Houses of the Garden also host a section devoted to South African plants, as a way to contribute to the ex-situ conservation of this highly threatened flora.
CUBG organised a fieldtrip to the Richtersveld desert in September 2018 to support the research done at CUBG – in particular the revision of family Neuradaceae – and to source wild plants for the Glass Houses. Together with a member of RBG Kew staff and the curator of the Richtersveld herbarium, we explored some of the most spectacular sites of this unique region, collecting succulents and other plants adapted to the harsh conditions of the dessert.
We have also explored other areas of the South African Cape region looking for species of Eriospermum, a genus of the Asparagaceae family with exceptional leaf diversity.