Included here is the area named after the Nama (the plural being Namaqua), which is the name of the Khoikhoi people that lived here at the time of the first white settlement. It forms a narrow deeply dissected escarpment of inland Namibia that gradually widens in a southerly direction to eventually develop into an extensive plateau south of Windhoek. The Orange River divides the region into Great Namaqualand (in Namibia) and Little Namaqualand (in the Northern Cape). The southern border extends for a few kilometres south of the Orange River and stretches between Vioolsdrif in the west to Upington in the east. To the west of the town of Windhoek it includes the Hochland Plateau that varies from rugged in the north (with broad valleys and inselbergs) to a flat and stony plateau dissected by deep valleys in the south. Also included is the Brandberg one of Namibia’s highest mountains while other mountains such as the Baynes, Erongo, Naukluft, Spitzkoppe and the Gamsberg lie along the escarpment edge.

Namalandian Commiphora gracilifrondosa Shrubland

In the Augrabies Falls National Park in southern Namaland Commiphora gracilifrondosa shrublands occur on the outcrops of quartz-rich granulites. These black granulite outcrops or hills are usually steep and strewn with large boulders and the black surfaces can get very hot in the sunshine. Soil is largely restricted to cracks and crevices and usually comprises much sand and gravel. The shrubs range in size from 1-3 m and have a very open appearance rarely exceed land cover values of 5%. Characteristic field layer forbs include Sutera ramossissima and the endemic or near endemic Abutilon pycnodon (Malvaceae). Other important components depending the degree of slope may include Rhuz populifolia and the endemic or near endemic Abutilon pycnodon (Malvaceae), Adenolobus gariepina (Fabaceae), Cleome angustifolia subsp. diandra (Cleomaceae), Euphorbia glanduligera (Euphorbiaceae) and Trichodesma africana (Boraginaceae).  Additional speciesthat may be encountered are Sisyndite sparteaand the endemic or near endemic Berkheya chamaepeuce (Asteraceae), Boerhavia repens (Nyctaginaceae), Cleome oxyphylla (Cleomaceae), Cucumis dinteri (Cucurbitaceae)and Curroria decidua (Apocynaceae).

Namalandian Ceraria namaquensis Shrubland

This is an open, succulent shrub formation characteristic of the smooth; almost dome shaped outcrops of pink gneiss virtually devoid of soil in the south. The largest of these domes in the Augrabies Falls National Park is locally known as Moon Rock. Most of the vegetation is rooted in narrow cracks or in shallow soil, and because of poor water retention the plants are exposed to long periods of extreme draught. The dominant species, Ceraria namaquensis (Portulacaceae), is an odd-looking, succulent shrub that can grow to heights of up to 2 m. It also occurs in Richtersveld with other succulents.  Another conspicuous feature is open tufts of the endemic or near endemic grass Panicum arbusculum (Poaceae). Other typical species include Indigofera pungens, Monechma spartioides, and the endemic or near endemic Codon royeni (family?), Hermannia spinosa (Sterculiaceae), Indigofera heterotricha (Fabaceae), Enneapogon scaber, Schmidtia kalihariensis and Stipagrostis uniplumis (Poaceae).

Namalandian Indigofera-Zygophyllum Shrubland

Largely confined to the pink gneiss zone in the south of Namaland this shrub community dominated by Zygophyllum suffruticosum and the endemic or near endemic Indigofera heterotricha (Fabaceae) occurs on rocky outcrops, rocky plains and sandy drainage lines (washes). It is very open with no more than about 15% land cover. Small trees such as Aloe dichotoma, Boscia albitrunca and Pappea capensis may also be present, but the community is mainly characterised by xeromorphic shrubs and dwarf shrubs such as Acacia mellifera, Boscia foetida, Polygala leptopylla, Rhychosia tottia and the endemic or near endemic Hermannia stricta (Sterculiaceae), Limeum dinteri (Aizoaceae) and Sericocoma avolans (Amaranthaceae) many of which are spiny. Succulents, like Euphorbia rhombifolia, Sacocaulon pattersonii and Sarcostemma viminalis are also common together with grasses such as Aristida congesta subsp. barbicallis and Stipagrostis anomala.  A large number of other species may be encountered depending on habitat such as Aptosimum spinescens, Aristida congesta, Boscia albitrunca Enneapogon desvauxii, Hibiscus elliotiae Monechma spartioides, Triraphis ramosissima and the endemic or near endemic Barleria rigida, Blepharis mitrata, (Acanthaceae), Euphorbia gregaria (Euphorbiaceae) and Zygophyllum dregeanum (Zygophyllaceae).

Namalandian Antherothamnus pearsonii Shrubland

This community, dominated by the shrub Antherothamnus pearsonii, is typically found in protected ravines and gorges in the pink gneiss zone of southern Namaland. These contain well-drained, loamy sand with varying amounts of gravel. Shrubs range in height from 1-4 m and have a land cover value of up to 15%. The undergrowth is largely composed of dwarf shrubs. Shrubs and dwarf shrubs characteristically include Barleria lancifolia and the endemic or near endemic Ozorea namaensis (family?) and Stachys burchelliana (Lamiaceae).  Other associated species include Monechma spartioides, Peliostomum leucorrhizum, Rhus populifolia, Triraphis ramosissima and the endemic or near endemic Aptosimum leucorrhizum subsp. junceum (Scrophulariaceae), Berkheya spinosissima var. namaensis (Asteraceae), Enneapogon scaber (Poaceae), Forsskohlea candida (Urticaceae), Hermannia minutiflora (Sterculiaceae) and Indigofera heterotricha (Fabaceae).

Namalandian Stipagrostis huchstetterana Grassland

Grasslands dominated by the endemic or near endemic Stipagrostis huchstetterana var. secalina (Poaceae) often predominate in the less rocky areas where there are deeper soils and where the strange endemic or near endemic Welwitschia mirabilis (Welwitschiaceae) can also be found. For example, it occurs west of the black granulite hills near Augrabies Falls where there is a thick layer of coarse, white sand. Here the grass forms fairly luxurious stands reaching about 0.75 m high and has a land cover of about 30%. Emerging from the field layer are various shrubs ranging from 1-2.5 m tall the most frequent of which, include Acacia mellifera subsp. detinens, Boscia foetida, Cadaba aphylla, Motinia caryophyllacea, Sisyndite spartea and the endemic or near endemic Euphorbia gregaria (Euphorbiaceae), Nymania capensis (Phyllanthaceae), Parkinsonia africana (Fabaceae) and Phaeoptilum spinosum (Nyctaginaceae).  In eastern locations these grasslands are often found closely adjacent to shrubby mapano communities. In general though they are relatively species-poor but may additionally include Gisekia africana, Kahautia cynanchica, Monechma spartinoides, Ptycholobium biflorum, Sarcostemma viminale and the endemic or near endemic Eragrostis porosa, Schmidtia kalihariensis, Stipagrostis uniplumis (Poaceae), Forsskohlea candida (Urticaceae), and Zygophyllum dregeanum (Zygophyllaceae).

Namalandian Euphorbia-Stipagrostis Barab Mountain High Mesa

The vegetation found on mountain tops in the Barab Mountains in Damaraland is generally characterized by the tree Euphorbia guerichiana and the grass Stipagrostis uniplumis, but other trees and shrubs such as Acacia mellifera, Helichrysum tomentosulum, Helinus spartioides, Lycium oxycarpum, the Namibian endemic climber Dactyliandra welwitschii (Cucurbitaceae) and the grass Setaria appendiculata are also abundant. The average height of trees is about 2m, while shrubs grow to about 1 m and grasses to about 0.5 m. Other associated endemic species include Momordica humilis (Cucurbitaceae).

Namalandian Sericorema-Tephrosia Etendeka Low Mesa Shrubland

On low mesas in the Etendeka Mountains of Damaraland the vegetation is characterised by dwarf shrubs Sericorema sericea and the Namibian endemic Tephrosia monophylla (Fabaceae). Other well-represented species include the short-lived, pioneer herbs Gisekia africana, Limeum argute-cerinatum and Tribulus terrestris. Additional shrubs are Amphiasma benguellense, Boscia foetida and the stem-succulent Euphorbia virosa, while the sparsely scattered trees include Acacia mellifera, Colophospermum mopana, Combretum apiculatum, Euphorbia guerichiana and Terminalia prunioides. Trees average 2.5 m, shrubs 0.5 m and herbs 0.3 m. Other Namibian endemics found here include Acacia robynsiana (Fabaceae), Barleria prionitoides (Acanthaceae), Pavonia rehmannii (Malvaceae) and Petalidium luteo-album (Acanthaceae).

Namalandian Euphorbia-Hirpicium High Eastern Etendeka Shrubland

On the eastern mesas of Damaraland the vegetation is characterized by the small shrub Euphorbia mauritanica and the undergrowth herb Hirpicium gazanoides. The shrub Blepharis obmitrata is also common and there are a small number of trees such as Commiphora glandulosa and Cyphostemma currori, which are rare or absent on other mountaintops. These trees grow to an average height of about 3 m, while shrubs reach an average height of 1.5 m and herbs and grasses about 0.5 m.  The main grass species are Anthephora schinzii, A. pubescens, Aristida adscensionis, Eragrostis nindensis and Setaria appendiculata. Species diversity is relatively high and there are a number of Namibian endemics such as Commiphora virgata (Burseraceae), Elephantorrhiza suffruticosa (Fabaceae), Lantana dinteri (Verbenaceae), Senecio alliariifolius (Asteraceae) and Tephrosia monophylla (Fabaceae).

Namalandian Petalidium-Eragrostis Barab Mountains Dwarf Shrubland

In Damaraland’s Barab Mountains the vegetation is characterised by the dwarf, Namibian endemic shrub Petalidium luteo-album (Acanthaceae) and the undergrowth grass Eragrostis nindensis. Other dwarf shrubs include Boscia foetida, Heliotropium hereroense and Leucosphaera bainesii, which can reach an average height of about 0.5 m, while the few small trees include Terminalia prunioides, which reaches about 2 m in height. Other common undergrowth species include the grasses Anthephora schinzii, Fingerhuthia africana and Setaria appendiculata with an average height of about 0.3 m. Additional Namibian endemic species found here include Cyanella amboensis (Tecophilaeaceae) and Tephrosia monophylla (Fabaceae).

Namalandian Otoptera-Fingerhuthia Damaraland Upland Shrubland

These shrublands, characterized by the dwarf shrub Otoptera burchellii and the undergrowth grass Fingerhuthia africana, occur on a variety of Damaraland mountaintops including Etendeka and Grootberg mountains. Other important species include the shrubs Heliotropium hereroensis and Leucosphaera bainesii and the grasses Eragrostis nindensis and Setaria appendiculata. Mean tree height is about 2 m, while shrubs reach 0.5 m and herbs and grasses 0.3 m. Also present are a variety of Namibian endemic species including Acacia rohynsiana (Fabaceae), Barleria damarensis (Acanthaceae) and Elephantorrhiza suffruticosa (Fabaceae).

Namalandian Indigofera-Fingerhuthia Grootberg Shrubland

Vegetation characterized by the shrub Indigofera schimperi and the undergrowth grass Fingerhuthia africana is the main community of the Grootberg Mountains. Small trees such as Acacia reficiens, Colophospermum mopane and Combretum apiculatum and the shrub Otoptera burchellii are also common, and the grass Aristida adscensionis is also found in most areas. Average tree height is about 2.5 m while shrubs reach an average height of 1 m and grasses and herbs 0.5 m. Among the Namibian endemics here are Barleria damarensis (Acanthaceae), Cucumella aspera (Cucurbitaceae), Elephantorrhiza suffruticosa (Fabaceae) and Lantana dinteri (Verbenaceae).


Acocks, J. P. H.  1975. Memoirs of the botanical survey of South Africa. Veld types of South Africa.

Bezuidenhout, H. 1996. The major vegetation communities of the Augrabies Falls National Park, Northern Cape. 1. The southern section. Koedoe, 39: 7-24.

Born, J., Linder, H. P. & Desmet, P. 2007. The Greater Cape Floristic Region. Journal of Biogeography, 34: 147-162.

Burk, A., Esler, K., Pienaar, E. & Barnard, P. 2003. Species richness and floristic relationships between mesas and their surroundings in southern African Nama Karoo. Diversity and Distributions, 9: 43-53.

Burke, A. & Stronbach, B. J. 2000. Review: Vegetation Studies in Namibia. Dinteria No. 26: 1-24.

Giess, W. 1971. A preliminary vegetation map of south west Africa. Dinteria, 4: 1-113.

Strohbach, B. J. 2001. Vegetation Survey of Namibia. Namibia Scientific Society, Journal 49.

Thuiller, W., Midgley, G. F., Hughes, G. O., Bomhard, B., Drew, G., Rutherford, M. C. & Woodward, I. 2006. Endemic species and ecosystem sensitivity to climate change in Namibia. Global Change Biology, 12: 759-776.

White, F. 1983. The Vegetation of Africa. UNESCO.

Werger, M. L. A. & Coetzee, B. J. 1977. A phytosociological and phytogeographical study of Augrabies Falls National Park, Republic of South Africa. Koedoe, 20: 11-51.

Werger, M. J. A. 1980. A phytogeographic study of the upper Orange River Valley. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa.

Wyk, A. E. van, Smith, G. F. 2001. Regions of Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa. A Review with Emphasis on Succulents. Umdaus Press.