Distribution within the region South Africa
South Africa has a generally temperate climate, due in part to being surrounded by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans on three sides, by its location in the climatically milder southern hemisphere and due to the average elevation rising steadily towards the north (towards the equator) and further inland. Due to this varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.
The climatic zones vary, from the extreme desert of the southern Namib in the farthest northwest to the lush subtropical climate in the east along the Mozambique border and the Indian ocean. From the east, the land quickly rises over a mountainous escarpment towards the interior plateau known as the Highveld. Even though South Africa is classified as semi-arid, there is considerable variation in climate as well as topography.
The extreme southwest has a climate remarkably similar to that of the Mediterranean with wet winters and hot, dry summers, hosting the famous Fynbos Biome of shrubland and thicket.
Many terrestrial orchids have broad environmental tolerances and are found in a wide range of habitats, whereas others are rather specific in their requirements. Examples of the latter are Eulophia milnei which occupies very wet spots and is sometimes even found in standing water, and populations of E. speciosa and E. petersii which grow right on the sea shore and are exposed to salt spray.
A few terrestrial species occur in man-made habitats. Various Disperis species (mainly D. lindleyana and D. fanniniae), some populations of Disa harveiana subsp. longicalcarata, D. brac-teata and Cynorkis kassneriana are naturalized in alien pine plantations. Eulophia streptopetala and E. ensata have been recorded from gum (Eucalyptus) plantings. Road cuttings and other disturbed sites are often colonized by Disa woodii, D. chrysostachya (PI. 14) and D. bracteata.
The epiphytic orchids have generally a wide range of habitats, and only a few species require very specialized conditions.
The Free State is particularly flat because it lies centrally on the high plateau. North of the Vaal River, the Highveld becomes better watered and does not experience subtropical extremes of heat. Johannesburg, in the centre of the Highveld, is at 1,740 m and receives an annual rainfall of 760 mm. Winters in this region are cold, although snow is rare.
The high Drakensberg mountains, which form the south-eastern escarpment of the Highveld, offer limited skiing opportunities in winter. The coldest place in South Africa is Sutherland in the western Roggeveld Mountains, where midwinter temperatures can reach as low as −15 °C (5 °F). The deep interior has the hottest temperatures: a temperature of 51.7 °C (125.06 °F) was recorded in 1948 in the Northern Cape Kalahari near Upington.
Robinson Pass an elevation standing high above the surrounding area with small summit area, steep slopes and local relief of 300m or more.
Moonstone - is a farm situated 40km west of Stutterheim on the Quanti river, which is a tributary of the Great Kei River. The vegetation is thicket in the valley bottoms rising to sub-escarpment grassland on the hills.
Satans Nek - is a pass on the road from Ngobo to Elliot in the Eastern Cape. The cool moist climate gives rise to mistbelt grassland which is home to a large variety of terrestrial orchids and other geophytes.
Naude's Neck - is one of the premier wild flower viewing sites in the Southern Drakensberg. The road between Maclear and Rhodes in the Eastern Cape crests the high mountain range at an altitude of 2500m, the highest road pass in the Republic of South Africa, giving access to the extremely rich alpine flora that occurs on this range.
Aurora Peak - is part of the southern Drakensberg range in the Maclear district of the North Eastern Cape. Situated between 2000 and 2500m altitude, the region enjoys a high summer rainfall and very cold winters with snow and frost. The vegetation is montane grassland with a high diversity of orchids, geophytes and other forbs.
Stutterheim - is a village in the Eastern Cape situated at the foot of the Amatole mountains. There are extensive tracts of Afromontane forest and mistbelt grassland, home to many special plant species.
Thomas River - is a tributary of the Great Kei River. Pictures in this gallery were taken on visits to some sites adjacent to these two rivers.
The Maclear district of the North Eastern Cape is at the southern end of the Drakensberg range. Situated between 2000 and 2500m altitude, the region enjoys a high summer rainfall and very cold winters with snow and frost. The vegetation is montane grassland with a high diversity of orchids, geophytes and other forbs.
Port Elizabeth has an oceanic climate. The area lies between the winter rainfall, Mediterranean climate zones of the Western Cape and the summer rainfall regions of eastern South Africa. Winters are cool but mild and summers are warm but considerably less humid and hot than more northerly parts of South Africa's east coast.
Bredasdorp is situated at an elevation of between 40 and 120 metres (130 and 390 ft) on the slopes of the Heuningberg (Afrikaans for "Honey Mountain"). There is no significant watercourse flowing through the town, although the Kars Rivier flows past a few kilometres to the east. Bredasdorp shares in the Mediterranean climate experienced in most of the Western Cape.
Verloren Valei is a closed nature reserve and visits to the reserve are by appointment only and take place under the supervision of a guide. The organisers of this conference have visited Verloren Valei regularly since 1989. About 52 terrestrial orchid species covering 11 genera are found on the
reserve. Approximately 70 species from 13 genera are found in the greater Dullstroom area. Approximately 26 orchid species can be found in bloom at the end of January on the reserve, some occuring in large numbers.
Balloch is a beautiful very isolated guest farm in a private valley in the southern Drakensberg. Spectaclar mountains tower around and crystal trout streams team with fish.
Tordoon - is an elevated plateau at the base of Gaika's Kop near the mountain resort of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape. It has been preserved by the residents of Hogsback as a national heritage site and is rich in wild flowers including many orchids.
The Andriesberg is a massive dolerite dome rising out of the surrounding plains in the Sterkstroom district of the Eastern Cape. The pockets of soil and rock cracks on the mountain are a unique habitat for a variety of especially succulent flora with some special endemics such as Huernia piersii.
Graskop, at an altitude of 1,400 m above sea level, has a temperate climate with a high rainfall and is often misty in the summer months. Centrally situated in the region of Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Formosa Nature Reserve
Just north of Nature's Valley, between the towns of Kareedouw and Misgund, the Formosa Nature Reserve lies inland of what is arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the country - the Garden Route. The Formosa Nature Reserve probably got its title from Bartholomew Dias, as early as 1488, when he named the peaks that surround Plettenberg Bay 'Pic Formosa'. The Formosa peak remains the highest peak in the Tsitsikamma range of mountains today and is one of the major attractions of the reserve.
Verloren Valei Nature Reserve (Lost Valley in English) is a protected area in Mpumalanga, South Africa. One of the few places in the country to breed all three of the world's endangered cranes, the Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve lies roughly 13 km outside Dullstroom, a beautiful, peaceful part of the Steenkampsberg plateau that includes rolling grasslands and sensitive wetlands.