Plants and animal of Cape Town's Lowlands

This interactive poster introduces you to some of the natural habitats, plants and animals you can find in the City of Cape Town.
  • Click on Let's Go to open the poster.
  • Click here to get a list of species on the poster.
  • Move your mouse over the habitat names to find out which plants and animals live in which of the four major lowland habitats in Cape Town. For more information on these habitats go to Module 2: Four unique ecosystems.
  • To identify the plants and animals, move your mouse over the plants and animals. You can read the scientific names (in Latin) and the common names in English.
  • For more information about the plants and animals, click your mouse on the plants and animals. You will see a photograph of the species and find out if it is threatened with extinction, endemic to the Cape Floristic Region or to the City of Cape Town.







How to name a species
Plants and animals can have many common names in different languages and in different parts of the world. Look at the list of plants and animals on the poster and you will see that most of them have different names in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. Sometimes different plants or animals share the same common name.
These two plants have more than one common name
Arum lily, Arum, Calla lily Dragon disa, White disa
Zantedeschia aethiopica Disa draconis
These two plants have the same common name although they are different species
Moederkappie Moederkappie
Pterygodium cruciferum Pterygodium catholicum










  • Carl Linneus
  • Common names can be confusing, so many years ago a Swedish scientist, Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), decided to give each living thing its own, unique scientific name that people all over the world could use. He made up names in Latin and ancient Greek because nobody speaks these languages any more.
  • On the list of plants and animals on the poster, you will see that most species have a scientific name made up of two names, e.g. Protea odorata, Mabuya capensis. We call these names binomials. We print these names in italics, to show that they are in another language.
  • The first name is the name of the genus or group to which the plant or animal belongs.
  • The second name is the name of the particular species. Each species is unique.
  • All the species that belong to the same genus have similar features.







An example, genus called Moraea:

  • On the poster you will find these three species
    Moraea aristata, Moraea elsiae, Moraea ramosissima

  • but there are many others e.g.
    Moraea papilionancea, Moraea bellendenii, Moraea fugax, Moraea gawleri, Moraea tripetala, Moraea vegeta
    (Move your mouse over the specific names above to find out what they are named after and to see a photo of each.)

  • The generic name is Moraea.
  • The specific names are: aristata, elsiae, ramosissima, papilionancea, bellendenii, fugax, gawleri,  tripetala, vegeta.
  • When scientists name plants or animals, they often choose names that are descriptive, or that recognise the people who first collected and described the species.
  • If you have to write out the names of different species in the same genus, you can abbreviate the generic name to one or two letters as in this sentence: Moraea ramosissima, M. elsiae and M.aristata are three plants with beautiful flowers.