In a country like South Africa where drought often prevails, many of the ferns found on the inland mountains are xerophytes, adapted to life in conditions of low moisture availability. The spores having the time, may lie in wait for very long periods before moisture arrives for them to grow. Where the rainfall is high or steep kloofs harbour at least seasonal streams, the ferns grow bolder among the boulders.
In these sheltered kloofs among steep rocks the water may last long, suiting the ferns to the ground. The fronds have protection from all-day sun and excessive wind; their roots burrowing down into the crevices where moisture collects. The deeper the gorge, the more gorgeous the ferns, depending on the rainfall. The photo was taken in Bainskloof where the rainfall is high.
South Africa has about 260 fern species, some of which are endemic to limited areas, others are shared with much of Africa or even worldwide.
The Fern Society of Southern Africa disseminates information and contributes to research aimed at promoting interest in and survival of our fern species (www.fernsoc.co.sa).