South Africa’s biomes (go to Biomes map)

      Succulent Karoo Biome

  • The Succulent Karoo, including desert, covers about 7.5% of the country (approximately 83 000 km2).

  • This biome covers the arid western parts of South Africa, including Namaqualand and the Richtersveld.

  • The region is extremely dry in summer and the temperature often rises above 40oC. Rain falls in winter and varies from 20 to 290 mm per year.

  • The Succulent Karoo has the largest number of succulent plants in the world for a region of its size. Most of these plants have succulent leaves, and many are very tiny, like the stone plants.

  • Plants in the Succulent Karoo are adapted to survive extremely dry summers. Succulent plants like small vygies and crassulas and the large Quiver Tree store water in their leaves and/or stems. Some trees have white bark to reflect heat. Annual daisies and geophytes remain dormant in summer and grow and flower after the winter rains.

  • Most wild animals are small, like the Bat-Eared Fox, Suricate (Meerkat), Barking Gecko, birds and invertebrates. Many are nocturnal and hide in burrows in the ground during the day to avoid the hot, dry conditions.

  • Many parts of the Succulent Karoo are famous for their spring flowers. Flower tourism is an important source of income. Ostriches are farmed in the Little Karoo.

  • The Succulent Karoo Ecosystem Programme (SKEP) has been developed to conserve this region. For more information go to