Table Mountain sees new life after fire

Table Mountain is slowly starting to show signs of rebirth after a fire in March.

Following a devastating fire that raged across Table Mountain just before the national lockdown, the mountain is slowly starting to show signs of rebirth – with the first flowers starting to appear across the scorched landscape.

Hundreds of beautiful Parasol Lilies (Crossyne Guttata) are blooming on top of the mountain.

The pale pink lillies are found on the slopes and flats of the South Western Cape, and are usually the first to bloom after a fire. The flower head is about 20cm in diameter and can be as tall as 45cm.

“Nature reminds us that there is hope when all seems lost,” said Wahida Parker, managing director of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC).

“While times may seem dark, like the rebirth that the mountain is experiencing, we have to remain hopeful that better days are coming.”

Some major fires of the past include the Christmas Day fire on Devil’s Peak in 1935, another one on the northern slopes of Table Mountain in January 1950 and of course the big fire of January 2000 that started at Red Hill and Silvermine.

Fires are by nature sensational news, even more so on the Cape Peninsula, where a national park protecting fynbos must burn every 10 to 20 years.

Environmental Control Officer at TMACC, Marie Abraham said a fire is the beginning of the life-cycle for many fynbos plants.”Table Mountain is made out of ancient sandstone – millions of years of erosion have leached the nutrients out of the soil and through the fire the ash from the dead vegetation is returned to the soil for another cycle,” she said.

She added that some plants (like some of the restios or reeds) have ants store their seeds underground to protect it from the hot fire. Again, giving us that extra bit of hope that flowers will bloom after a disaster.

With the fire season over and the cold Cape winter fast approaching, the colder and wetter weather cause the fynbos to once again bloom. Notable fynbos that have also started flowering includes the beautiful pink and white sugar bushes (Protea repens).

“Just as the Parasol Lillies are showing off their colours, so will the rest of the nation bloom again,” said Ms Parker.