RICHTERSVELD NATIONAL PARK - VEGETATION: SUCCULENT KAROO  
     
 

The Succulent Karoo is one of the world’s most unusual biomes, with the greatest botanical diversity and the most succulent vegetation of any arid region on Earth.  It covers some 107 200 square kilometres along the western coastal regions of South Africa and Southern Namibia, including virtually all of hte Richtersveld. 

It was the first entirely arid region in the world to be recognised as a ‘ biodiversity hotspot’ that is, a biogeographic region that is both a significant reservoir of biodiversity and is threatened with destruction.  The Succulent Karoo has more than 5 000 plant species, approximately 40% of whcih are endemic, and 18% of which are threatened.  More than one third of all sucuclent species found on Earth are found in the Succulent Karoo. 

The biome has five pronounced centres of endemism; the Richtersveld falls within the core of one of them, the Gariep Centre.  It is home to more than 350 endemic plant species and includes the most diverse and dense lichen fields in the world.

Catch the blooming of the Richtersveld flowers in September and you will witness one of the finest floral displays in the world. The rocky plains come to life and the land transforms from greens and browns into a dazzling display of bright colours.

 
     
 

Some amazing features of Richtersveld Biodiversity:

  • 2,700 species in this area alone & almost 600 exist nowhere else.
  • The giant Baster Quiver Tree (Aloe pilansii), of which only a few hundred remain on the remote mountaintops in the Richtersveld.
  • The “Halfmens” (Pachypodium namaquanum) – a bizarre plant which from a distance resemble faraway people, hence the name “Half man”.
  • The most lichen species of any area in the world – 29.
  • Numerous species of lithops - tiny succulent plants which resemble small stones.
 
     
 
THE RICHEST DESERT ON EARTH
The wealth of the desert is not about diamonds. In fact, the Succulent Karoo –
of which the Richtersveld is a centre of endemism – is one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots on earth and the only one to exist in an arid environment. However, the true wealth of the Richtersveld’s flora is often buried underground, as the seeds of many species lie dormant in vast subterranean seed banks waiting for an opportune moment to come to life. This flowering pageant occurs almost every September when the otherwise stark plains and valleys are transformed into one of the world’s most spectacular floral displays. Flowers can be found everywhere, from rock crevices to the white quartz fields which, if one looks closely enough, harbour
an array of tiny succulents.
 
     
  VISIT OUR GALLERY PAGE FOR SOME AMAZING PHOTO'S BY MARTIN HEIGAN  
  read more about BOTTERBOOM, HALFMENS, QUIVER TREE, AND SUCCULENT KAROO