Zambezian Dambo Grassland

At altitudes above about 1200m where drainage is sluggish up to 20% of plateau surfaces are covered in a dense grass mats known as dambos. The soils are usually acidic, and much of it is subject to seasonal flooding, but in the dry season it may dry out and become very compact. Their floristic composition shows considerable variation, but is by and large, composed of fine leaved grasses, together with a number of Cyperaceae and Xyridaceae. The most characteristic grass is Loudetia simplex, while other common grass species include Andropogon schirenss, Hyparrhenia bracteata, Miscanthus teretifolius, Monocymbium ceresiiforme, Themeda triandra and Trachypogon spicatus. Endemic grasses found here include Brachiaria clavipila, Digitaria bidactyla, D. complanata, D. hyalina, D. phaeotricha, many Eragrostis species such as E. acamptoclada, E. anacrantha, E. astreptoclada, E. aurorae, E. caniflora, E. castellaneana, E. dentifera, E. friesii, E. mariae, E. milnei, E. oligostachya and E. saresberiensis, Lophacme parva and Sporobolus fibrosus (Poaceae).    In the wetter areas there can be a great variety of Cyperaceae including Ascolepis anthemiflora, Bulbostylis cinnamomea, Cyperus esculentus, Fuirena pubescens, Kyllinga erecta, Mariscus deciduus, Pycreus aethiops, Scirpus microcephalus and Scleria bulbifera. Among the endemic forbs found here are a wide variety of orchids such as Centrostigma clavatum and C. papillosum, and species of Brachycorythis, Disa, Habenaria, Platycoryne and Satyrium, while endemics from other plant families include Acalypha clutioides (Euphorbiaceae), Aeschynomene mediocris (Fabaceae), Ageratinastrum palustre (Asteraceae), Anagallis elegantula (Primulaceae), Buchnera ciliolata (Scrophulariaceae), Dierama parviflorum (Iridaceae), Dissotis gilgiana (Melostomataceae), Eugenia malagensis (Myrtaceae), Hydrolea brevistyla (Hydrophyllaceae), Hypoxis nyasica (Hypoxidaceae), Ipomoea fanshawei (Convolvulaceae), Kniphofia reynoldsii (Asphodelaceae), Mechowia redactifolia (Amaranthaceae), Nesaea spathulata (Lythraceae), Sebaea gracilis (Gentianaceae) and Spermacoce annua (Rubiaceae).


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