Gondwana Garden and Fossil Beds

The Gondwana Garden is located on the west side of the conservatory (between the conservatory and Camphor Avenue), but can only be accessed through the conservatory.

At the entrance to the Gondwana Garden is a bed that depicts the type of plants that would have been growing during the Triassic period (200mya). Opposite it, is a bed that depicts the type of veld where fossils are found today.

The garden is named after Gondwanaland, the huge landmass that broke up ±180 million years ago to form Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, India and Antarctica. Both the fossil and living flora of these continents gives evidence of their shared past.

This is one of the few gardens in Kirstenbosch where plants not indigenous to southern Africa (exotic) are cultivated. You will see 240 million year old fossil tree trunks of Araucarioxylon from Senekal in the eastern Free State, and living specimens of the trees most similar to it alive today. Other 'living fossils' on display here include the Ginkgo biloba, Cycads, eg Cycas species and Encephalartos species, fossil relatives of which are found in southern African rocks from the Triassic period (200 million years ago). Also, Tree Ferns, Cyathea/Alsophila species and Equisetum gigantea, whose fossil relatives are found in the Permian deposits (280 million years ago). Plus, you will see specimens of some of our most ancient rock formations, the Barberton and the Witwatersrand (gold reef) formations laid down more than 400 million years ago.

A close-up of one of the fossils in the fossil bed at the entrance to the Gondwana Garden. (Incidentally, this speciman was stolen, if noticed in a private collection please let us know!)

This bed represents a part of the Eastern Cape where fossil plants from the Triassic period are common in the shale rock band (formed about 200 mya) below the cave sandstone.

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