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Regions of Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa

Author: Abraham E van Wyk, Gideon F Smith

The extraordinary floristic diversity in southern Africa is not only one of the region's greatest natural assets, but also one of the botanical wonders of the world. Here, south of the Cunene-Zambezi Rivers, more than 10% of all vascular plants (over 30 000 species), including more than 46% of all succulents, are found on about 2.5% of the world\'s land surface area. Moreover, at least 60% of these species are strictly confined (endemic) to the region.

It is remarkable that most of southern Africa's endemic plants are concentrated in only a few relatively small and well demarcated areas, known as Regions or Centres of Endemism. Although the existence of these Centres has been known to field botanists for a long time, most of them remain comparatively little known outside scientific circles. Over many years, the authors have carefully documented the diversity of endemic plants and now for the first time, present the results of their efforts to recognise and define areas that warrant status as Centres of Endemism.

Contrary to what would be expected from a botanically rich region, large parts of southern Africa are subjected to regular and almost predictable droughts, prolonged periods of below-average rainfall and a marked seasonality in precipitation. One consequence of the general aridity of the region has been the development of succulence as a survival strategy in many plants, including a significant proportion of endemics. In addition, many of these fat-bodied plants have acquired distinct defence mechanisms that enable them to survive in this rather harsh and often inhospitable climate. The resultant peculiar forms and behaviour patterns of these plants have fascinated botanists, plant explorers and the public for many years.

Whereas the classification and mapping of southern Africa's vegetation types have been the subject of numerous publications, the classification and mapping of the distribution patterns of the region's plant species (or flora) have been neglected. This book brings together, for the first time in one work, all the relevant information on most of the principal Regions and local Centres of Plant Endemism in Southern Africa.

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Specific Details

Hardcover: 200 pages
Title: Regions of Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa
Author: Abraham E van Wyk, Gideon F Smith
Publisher: Umdaus Press
Date: 2001
ISBN 10: 1919766189
ISBN 13: 9781919766188
Language: English
Weight: 2 lbs 14.7 ounces

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