The forest biome in the Baviaanskloof
The forest biome occurs in places that contain enough water to allow for trees to grow. In Baviaanskloof, such places are found in the deep gorges that have formed between mountains through tectonic movements of the earth's crust through millenia. Locally, such gorges are referred to as “kloofs”. It almost looks like the mountain has been split into two with a deep cleft in the middle. It is here where the forests of the Baviaansloof thrive.
Frequently found tree species of the forest biome include Wild fig trees (Ficus ingens). They have a shallow root system that is embedded in the water. The ripe red figs of wild fig trees are easily recognizable. It attracts a large number of creatures. Frutiverous birds like the Knysna Loerie can be found feeding on fruiting stalks. Other animals like baboons and monkeys also like to come and feed on the fruits. Other trees that commonly grow in the forest biome include the White Stinkwood (Celtis africana) and Buig-my-nie (Smellophyllum capense), endemic to the Baviaanskloof region. The Witgat tree (Boschia albitrunca) is a very special tree species that can reach very old age. Some individuals that are more than 200 years old can be observed at Sederkloof Lodge. The Willowmore cedar (Widdringtonia swarzii) is a highly localised and threatened species that occur in Baviaanskloof. It was used by early farmers to build houses with, and as poles to construct fences to keep sheep. Another special sight to be seen is the prehistoric cycads (Encephelartos species).
The forest biome also houses various herbaceous plant species. When looking for something to heal the bones, a kloof is an excellent place to look in. A few of the common medicinal herbs to be found include wild mint (Mentha longifolia), Salvia species, Wild dagga (Leonotus leonurus), Pelargonium species and Pellaea ferns. A very common shrub occuring in kloofs, is the Sand Olive (Dodonaea angustifilia). A decoction of the leaves and branch tips of this shrub is still used as a remedy against fever and colds. The next chapter speaks more about the medicinal properties of some of the plants found at Sederkloof Lodge.