Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

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South Africa - Western Cape - Claremont, Cape Town

Institution Code: NBG

International Agenda Registration: Yes

BGCI Member: Yes

About the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Parastatal organisation (SANBI) under the national Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries (DEFF). This garden has a focus on native ecosystems.

Main Address:
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
South African National Biodiversity Institute
Private Bag X7
Claremont, Cape Town
Western Cape 7735 South Africa

Telephone: +27 (0)21 799 8899
Fax: +27 (0)21 797 6570
Primary Email:

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Mr Christopher Willis
    Curator's Name: Mr Werner Voigt
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Mr Phakamani Xaba, cycad collections curator
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 13
    Educational Staff Number: 5
    Research Staff Number: 40
    Administration Staff Number: 10

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: State: Yes
  • Date founded: 1913
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 470 Hectares
  • Landscaped Area: Yes
    Landscaped Area: Size: 38 Hectares
  • Total Area: 528 Hectares
    Latitude: -33.9891
    Longitude: 18.4341
    Annual Rainfall: 1440 mm
    Altitude: 100.00 Metres
    Total area of glasshouses: 7740 Metres
    Total area of shadehouses: 2500 Metres
  • Additional Locations
  • Satellite Garden Names: Tinie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve, Darling Edith Stephens Wetland Park, Cape Town
  • Locality: Information
  • Locality: Garden Name: Kirstenbosch
  • Local Address: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
  • Locality: City:
  • Locality: State: Western Cape

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: Yes
    Herbarium: Number of Specimens: 850000
    Arboretum: Yes
    Arboretum Size: 1
  • Seed Bank: Yes
    Published Plant Catalogue: Yes
    Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Shop: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: Yes
    Disabled access: Yes
  • Number of Visitors: 1091438
    Number of Volunteers: 150

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 16570
  • Special Collections:ca 200 threatened plant taxa are in the collection.
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    ABS Policy: Yes
    Plant Collection Policy: Yes

Conservation Programmes

  • Medicinal Plant Programme: Yes
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: Yes
    Reintroduction Programme: Yes

Research Programmes

  • Conservation - Biology: Yes
    Conservation - Genetics: Yes
    Data Management Systems and Information Technology: Yes
    Ecology: Yes
    Ecosystem Conservation: Yes
    Education: Yes
    Ethnobotany: Yes
    Exploration: Yes
    Floristics: Yes
    Horticulture: Yes
    Invasive Species Biology and Control: Yes
    Molecular Genetics: Yes
    Pollination Biology: Yes
    Restoration Ecology: Yes
    Seed/Spore Biology: Yes
    Systematics and Taxonomy: Yes
    Urban Environments: Yes

Education Programmes

  • Visitor/Education Centre: Yes
    Education Signs in Garden: Yes
    Public Lectures/Talks: Yes
    Education Booklets/Leaflets: Yes
    Guided Tours: Yes
    Permanent Public Displays: Yes
    Special Exhibitions: Yes
    Courses for School Children: Yes
    Courses for University/College Students: Yes
    Courses for General Public: Yes
    Education Programme: Yes

Reintroduction of the Whorl Heath – Erica verticillata in South Africa

Regarded as Extinct in the Wild by 1950, Erica verticillata used to grow in Cape Flats Sand Fynbos in South Africa. Thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of a few botanic gardens and some dedicated collectors and growers, the search for ex situ collections of E. verticillata began and eight clones have been discovered. The process of reinducing the whorl heath in situ has presented a number of challenges. 


Regarded as extinct in the wild by the second half of the 20th century, Erica verticillata used to grow in Cape Flats Sand Fynbos on the lowlands of the Cape Peninsula from the Black River to Zeekoevlei in South Africa. Thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of a few botanic gardens and some dedicated collectors and growers, the search for ex situ collections of E. verticillata began, becoming an exercise in detective work. To date, eight confirmed collections have been found three of which have been used in reintroduction efforts.

The rediscovery of E. verticillata excited interest amongst conservationists to attempt reintroduction to its natural habitat. The process of restoring the whorl heath presented many challenges. Initially, attempts were hampered by limited available knowledge on suitable niche habitats. A further trial to establish this species in natural habitat was made in the Kenilworth Racecourse Conservation Area (KRCA) regarded as the best and least disturbed example of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos remaining on the southern suburbs of Cape Town. In 2004, 100 plants comprising two clones of E. verticillata were planted in a seasonally wet depression where another highly endangered and endemic Erica, E. margaritacea, grows. Introduced in mature vegetation to protect them from the summer heat and wind, the plants have survived and flower profusely every year. Seedlings have been observed in open patches near the parent plants.

Cape Nature organized a control burn in an adjacent section of the KRCA in March 2005 after which further saplings grown in unigro plugs were planted in the burnt but moist area. Another planting was established on the eastern-end of the KRCA using plants in 1kg bags. This area was also burnt, but was more protected by sprouting grasses. The plants in unigro plugs all died during the hot, dry summer probably because they were too exposed to the desiccating summer winds and summer heat. The main lesson learnt when reintroducing nursery grown plants to a natural habitat is the value of the supporting vegetation structure as protective nurse plants. However, in a natural system after fire seedlings will germinate and being much smaller get protection from the emerging vegetation around them.