Included here is the Mascarene Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The main islands are Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues.

Mascarenean Philippia Upland Heath (Mauritius)

This community found on Mauritius is dominated by the endemic tree heather Philippia abietina (Ericaceae). It is one of the most striking communities of the uplands and closely resembles the Philippia heaths of Madagascar and East Africa. It is now confined to a small area of the southwestern part of the upland plateau, where humidity levels remain high throughout the year. In many places soil is virtually absent and for plants to gain anchorage their roots often have to penetrate the joints between frozen lava streams. The shrub layer is dominated by the endemic Helichrysum yuccaefolium (Asteraceae) and Phylica mauritiana (Rhamnaceae), while other endemic but less common shrubs include Olea lancea (Oleaceae), Psiadia trinervia (Asteraceae) and Siderxylon puberulum (Sapotaceae). The ground between shrubs is frequently devoid of vegetation consisting of lava fragments and scoria, but in other places the lichens Cladonia rangiferina and C. rangiformis form large grey cushions up to 30 cm across. Another important pioneer of bare lava is the endemic moss Campylopus introflexus var. mauritius. The epiphytic flora mainly consists of mosses, including the endemic Schotheimia fornicata, and lichens, while other less common epiphytes include the endemic orchid Bulbophyllum nutan (Orchidaceae) and the curious fern Polypodium serrulatum with its very small linear fronds. 


Atkinson, R. & Sevathian, J. C. 2007. A guide to the plants of Mauritius. Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.

Baker, J. G. 1999. Flora of Mauritius and the Seychelles. (reprint of 1877 edition). Asian Educational Services, India.

Cheke, A. & Hume, J. 2008. Lost Land of the Dodo. T & AD Poyser.

Fakim, A. G. 2009. An Illustrated Guide to the Flora of Mauritius and the Indian Ocean Islands. University of Mauritius.

Safford, R. J. 1997. A survey of the occurrence of native vegetation remnants on Mauritius in 1993. Biological Conservation, 80: 181-188.

Vaughan, R. E. 1937. Studies on the vegetation of Mauritius. I. A preliminary survey of the plant communities. Journal of Ecology, 25: 289-343.