A Cape Flats plant thought to have been extinct for two centuries is home again ... and surprising botanists.
The plant, Erica verticillata, which used to be found only in Cape Town, was discovered in a Pretoria park and returned to Cape Town.
On Friday, the City of Cape Town said it is likely the plant has evolved to protect its seeds from fire.
“Erica verticillata once grew as a narrow-range endemic, restricted to the southern edges of the Cape Flats sand fynbos in Cape Town,” the city said in a statement.
“However, the remaining percentage of its host vegetation type was below the required levels of conservation, placing the species in a perilous state.
“It subsequently succumbed to the combined pressures of urban development, small-scale farming, draining of wetlands, alien vegetation invasion and extensive picking by flower sellers owing to its summer-flowering pattern when little else flowers on the Cape Flats. By 1950, this plant was extinct.”