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Written by: Catherine Browne

The 24th of September is Heritage Day in South Africa, a day to celebrate the country’s amazing diversity and heritage.

Our natural heritage is like non-other, South Africa is unique in being mega-biodiverse and the Botanical Society of South Africa would like to highlight the value and beauty of our natural heritage and call all to celebrate it and take action to conserve it.


Looking at our natural heritage this Heritage Day – do you know what our national representatives are?

© Kevin Shields, Botanical Society of South Africa
© Kevin Shields, Botanical Society of South Africa

– Our national flower is the majestic king protea, Protea cynaroides. This is the largest flower of the Protea genus, and is widely distributed in the south-western and southern parts of South Africa’s fynbos region. Also known as the giant protea and mountain-rose sugarbush, the king protea is endemic to the Cape Floristic Region.

© Abu Shawka
© Abu Shawka

– The real yellowwood, Podocarpus latifolius, is our national tree. A widely distributed, slow growing beauty. The yellowwood family has been present in South Africa for over 100 million years.

© Yathin
© Yathin

– The country’s national animal is the springbok, Antidorcas marsupialis. This most of you probably already know, as it is also the name of the South African rugby team. This small antelope can leap up to four metres in the air in an activity known as pronking. They are also among the top ten fastest land animals in the world and, when required, can reach speeds of 90km/hr.

© Ashwell Glasson
© Ashwell Glasson, Botanical Society of South Africa

– Our national bird is the elegant blue crane, Anthropoides paradisiac. The blue crane is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Albeit facing many threats, many conservation measures have been put in place to protect the species. These birds are endemic to southern Africa, with more than 99% of the population occurring within South Africa. Loyal to pairing with only one mate (monogamous), despite being social animals, these birds can be extremely territorial while breeding.

© Peter Southwood
© Peter Southwood

– Lastly our national fish is the galjoen, Dichistius capensis. This marine species is endemic to southern Africa, occurring from southern Angola to Durban. A popular angling species amongst fisherman, careful monitoring and management required.

Support your national heritage by becoming a member of the Botanical Society of South Africa this Heritage Day. To support the work of the society, get a MyPlanet card and add them as your beneficiary!

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