The Sand Plain Fynbos contains the typical components of Fynbos: a restioid component, a proteoid component, a geophytic component and an ericoid component. In the Penhill remnants, the natural structure of the vegetation is open shrubland. Of the species listed by Low & Rebelo (1996) as characteristic of Sand Plain Fynbos, the following definitely occur in the Penhill remnants: Erica mammosa (Fig. 1), Phylica cephalantha and Phylica stipularis. Phylica cephalantha is one of the dominants in the Penhill remnants. The pictures were taken in October 2006 and show a few of the species occuring in the north-west to west Penhill remnant.
Figure 1: Erica mammosa
Figure 2: A Tritonia sp.
Figure 3: Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron
The Penhill remnants of Sand Plain are isolated from other Sand Plain Fynbos by urban development and agricultural land and are threatened by both agriculture and urban development.
The natural vegetation of Penhill has not been managed for conservation. Eskom brushcuts parts of the north-western remnant because of its proximity to major power lines. Both remnants suffer from too frequent burning. The frequent fires have favoured alien species resulting in dense invasions in places. The main woody alien is Acacia saligna. Acacia cyclops and Eucalyptus sp. are also present.
In conservation terms, Penhill falls within the Peninsula District centre of endemism within the Sand Plain Fynbos. In 1996, none of the vegetation of this centre of endemism was formally conserved (Low & Rebelo 1996). (The University of the Western Cape has a remnant of this vegetation but while some of it is adjacent to the Cape Flats Nature Reserve and presently managed with the reserve, it is not formally part of the reserve and is threatened by development of the university.) The Penhill remnants are thus valuable and should be formally conserved.
Low, A.B. & Rebelo, A.G. (1996) Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Pretoria. 0-621-17316-9 ISBN
Piessens, K., Honnay, O., Devlaeminck, R. & Hermy, M. (2006) Biotic and abiotic edge effects in highly fragmented heathlands adjacent to cropland and forest. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 114: 335—342.