Renosterveld Reserve, Western Cape
Situated in the village of Darling, the Renosterveld Reserve, which you will find at the top of the village on a hill just behind the Darling Primary School, is run by the local municipality and forms part of the Darling commanage. Donated by the local Versveld family in 1958, it is one of several pieces of land in and around Darling that have been maintained to preserve the local endemic flowers that appear towards the end of winter.
The reserve's 20 hectares place it rather firmly on the Darling Wild Flower Route during the wild flower season as part of the annual Darling Wild Flower Show, held in the third weekend of September. The Renosterveld Reserve is the best place to see Renosterbos, a fine collection of birds and the red bellied tortoise.
Renosterveld is an umbrella term that describes one of the major plant communities or vegetation type of the Cape Floristic Region. Translated directly from the Afrikaans, it means 'rhinoceros field' perhaps a reference to the high number of rhino evidenced by settlers, but it more likely derives its name from the common shrub found here too, known as the Renosterbos or rhinoceros bush grey in colour, similar to the hide of a rhino.
Because Renosterveld has highly fertile soil as a rule, much of the land is now under agriculture, especially wheat, so that in the Cape Floristic Region less than 2% of Renosterveld vegetation types are now formally conserved, despite being some of the most threatened types of vegetation in the world.
There is a circular walk in the Renosterveld reserve, but take a pair of sturdy walking shoes. And keep a Wild Flower Guide to hand as there are usually a fair number of different plant types in the reserve.