The warm temperate zone is home to plants from the garden’s Evolution Collection, including Adaptation to the Environment Displays and some of the garden’s Mediterranean Climate Regions Collection as well as plants from the garden displays of African fynbos, Canary Islands flora and arid land plants.
The central display is planted to illustrate different but interconnecting plant communities, known as biomes, representing the Western, Southern and Eastern Cape regions of South Africa. In the wild these communities represent the greatest diversity of plant species to be found anywhere in the world and are collectively known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. On display are plants representing fynbos, succulent karoo, nama karoo and thicket biomes. These are home to some very attractive and striking plants including: the bird pollinated king protea, Protea cynaroides and coral aloe, Aloe striata, the aromatic kapok bush, Eriocephalus ericoides and the ancient karoo cycad Encephalartos lehmannii.
Old World (African) stem and leaf succulents including: Euphorbia horrida and Aloe plicatilis are displayed alongside (New World) American stem and leaf succulents including: Echinocactus grusonii and Furcraea longaeva highlighting striking examples of convergent evolution to survival in seasonal arid desert environments.
From the Canary Islands the succulent stemmed Kleinia neriifolia and Dracena draco are two further examples of convergent evolution to a seasonally arid environment. The Canary Island display illustrates the phenomenon of ‘adaptive radiation’ where related plants (or animals) evolve to fit the demands of each islands slightly different environmental conditions. In time plants from the other Macaronesia Islands, Azores Madeira, Cape Verde and the Savage Islands will be developed. A collection of plants from Madagascar is also being developed. In addition to these oceanic island communities, the fynbos biome illustrates plants growing in ‘island’ communities on land, isolated by climate, topography and soils.
A large collection of species pelargoniums is grown as an illustration of adaptive radiation. (Diversification of a species or single ancestral type into several forms that are each adaptively specialized to a specific environmental niche).
Carnivorous plants including the sticky leaved Drosera capensis and Pinguicula sp., together with the quick acting venus fly trap, Dionaea muscipula and spring trapped bladderworts Utricularia sp. trap insects by sticky leaves and movement. These plants highlight examples of convergent evolution in plants showing their adaptation to trap and digest animals to supplement their nutrient diet when growing on poor soils.
This zone is still under development and when complete will display other island communities.