Today was a fun day working in the Conservatory in the Eastern Cape section. I really enjoyed just that fact of being exposed to this plant group, as I will not have a chance to go to the actual region. I don’t think I have mentioned that the Conservatory is divided into regional and geographic sections, recreating vastly different environments found in the cape. This part of the conservatory is actually without a solid roof as it is a less arid biome and does not have to be protected from the local rains, much in contrast to the Karoo regions, which could not be recreated without shelter from rain for most of the year.
Ernst explained the eastern cape to me in terms of climate, but also as a (former) natural habitat for large animals, specifically elephants. These would break through thick vegetation, trampling and eating, and such do a natural, rather radical pruning. The plants of this environment are superbly adapted to these occurrences, easily resprouting from chopped off branches (e.g. Aloes), regrowing from fallen off plant sections (e.g. Euphorbias), or being able and even depending on distribution of singular leaves from which a whole plant readily reemerges (e.g. Crassulas, Senecios). In fact without these events the whole balance of this biome flips over, and a vastly different flora starts taking over.
So today Georgina and I started a radical pruning of this section, playing Elephants.