The recently published Cavern Entertainment and Hikes Guide lists 68 trees found on Cavern Territory. This merely represents what has been found so far, mainly along the regular trails. On a recent walk on the circular Fern Forest Trail another five species were added: Casearia gladiiformis, Clerodendrum glabrum, Maytenus acuminata, Olea capensis and Scolopia zeyheri. This suggests that many more species are lurking unnoticed. Enthusiasts wanting to add more can try the innumerable forest patches away from the main trails, where they are certain to find something new.
The forests here must be the most diverse in the whole Berg. Of our 73 trees, 65 are forest species. The main reason for this diversity must be the mildness of the winters, which allows species normally associated with lower altitudes to survive here. Perhaps the most interesting tree in the forest is the Coffee Pear, Pleurostylia capensis. This is rare anyway and usually found in the warmer lowlands, where it is always small. In the Fern Forest there are at least four giant specimens over 20m tall and probably 200 years old. One stands right on the trail, and can be recognized by its roughish bark that reveals an orange under-layer as it flakes.
By David Johnson