Late blooms signal problems for tourism in South Africa

At the end of August each year, the normally arid landscape of Namaqualand along South Africa’s western border transforms into a sight of brightly colored daisies as far as the eye can see. Namaqualand’s daisy bloom attracts nearly 10,000 tourists a season to a part of the country that doesn’t otherwise receive many visitors. But climate change threatens the bloom and tourist arrivals that generate regional income. Namaqualand daisies (Dimorphotheca sinuata) are endemic to the Northern Cape and Western Cape provinces of South Africa and have evolved to survive harsh, dry climatic conditions. In early spring, the flowering of daisies is triggered by the change in temperature and rainfall. This is an example of what is called a phenological event. As bloom dates occur earlier, the timing of organized, independent flower tours will need to change to give tourists the best chance of experiencing the region in full bloom. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as arriving 2.1 to 2.6 days earlier every decade; under climate change, the timing of flowering also becomes more unpredictable.


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