8 junio, 2024

Flora and fauna of Africa: representative species

In the flora and fauna of africa Species such as the baobab, the bird of paradise (flower), the king’s prophet, lions, giraffes, hippos or zebras stand out. After Asia and the Americas, Africa is the third largest continent in the world.

It has an extension of about 30 thousand square kilometers (km²) and we could say that its northern part is «surrounded» by the European continent, separated from it by the Mediterranean Sea. To the east of the continent is the Atlantic Ocean and to the west the Red Sea.

The name «Africa» ​​means «absence of cold» in Latin, which is due to the fact that this is one of the continents that receives the greatest amount of solar radiation on the planet and, therefore, is one of the warmest.

It has soils very rich in minerals, being an ideal place for the growth of grasses and trees resistant to high temperatures. In addition, since it is a large continent, Africa has 4 or 5 different climatic zones: desert climate, Mediterranean climate, intertropical, subtropical and rainy, jungle and savannah climates.

Africa is home to flora as beautiful and magnificent as the endemic trees known as Baobabs, which have particular bottle-shaped trunks, and animals as majestic and imposing as the large mammals: the mountain gorilla, the hippopotamus, the rhinoceros, among others.

Many of these animals and plants are the main attractions of zoos and botanical gardens in our cities. Species of animals such as the lion, the zebra and the giraffe, or even species of exotic plants such as the water lotus, the calla lilies and the famous and very popular “paradise flowers”.

flora of africa

The flora of Africa is very diverse, since it has extremely varied ecosystems: desert dunes, large expanses of savannah, dense humid forests and even mountainous forests. For example, forests have floors covered by grasses and shrubs, which are accompanied by many trees.

In the savannahs low herbaceous plants and some shrubs cover large tracts of ground, with a few trees rising between them. Desert areas have almost no vegetation, the little that survives these extreme conditions is distributed in isolation in the desert.

Despite the wide diversity of vegetation that the African continent has, some of the most striking and representative species are the following:

King Protea or Giant Protea (Protea cynaroides)

It is a species of flowering plant belonging to the genus Protea. It is native to southwestern and southern South Africa. However, it is currently cultivated as an ornamental plant in many parts of the world, due to the beauty of its flower and its resistance in vases.

This plant is very resistant to dry climates, but very sensitive to cold or temperate climates. It is a shrub that can reach up to 2 meters in height, its leaves are glossy and sprout from the reddish stems without ramifications.

The flowers are about 10 centimeters in radius, with a very showy bright pink color.

Baobab, bottle tree or monkey bread (Adansonia digitata)

They are very large trees, but especially striking due to the thickness of their trunks and their great longevity. Many African tribes consider them magical or sacred trees, which can only be visited by special people.

These trees can reach heights of between 4 and 40 meters in height; while the trunk can exceed 10 meters in diameter.

The most impressive thing about these trees is that it is estimated that they can live between 800 and 1000 years, reaching maturity at 200 years. Individuals have been studied in which an age of 5000 years has been estimated.

The flowers are white, with white petals, and usually appear at the end of the dry season, at the beginning of the wet season.

Fuchsia Tree, African Walnut or Drunken Parrot (Schotia brachypetala)

It is a medium-sized tree that can reach 20 meters, but generally measures between 5 and 10 meters in optimal conditions. They are very hardy trees in drought conditions, but they grow better in wet conditions. They are distributed in the subtropical ecosystems of the African continent.

They usually have red flowers with a large amount of nectar, which is very attractive to insects and birds. Many times the amount of nectar is such that it spills out of the flower or ferments, and when consumed by birds it can cause effects similar to those of alcohol, such as inebriation.

Bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae)

It is one of the most cultivated ornamental plants in the world, since it is very resistant to droughts and the cut flower can be used for vases or as a garden plant. It is native to South Africa, but its cultivation has spread throughout the world.

It is a herbaceous plant with large leaves and a long petiole, it flowers several times a year, being able to produce from 5 to 8 flowers a year. It has petals that can range from orange to yellow in color and with three intense, dark blue central petals.

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)

It is a thorny shrub widespread throughout the semi-desert zone of Africa, Arabia and part of India, but it is especially abundant in Somalia. This species is well known for producing a resin with a strong odor, which is used to make incense, perfumes, medicines, and flavorings.

Despite being a shrub, the Myrrh can reach between 2 and 6 meters in height and the diameter of the trunk is quite thick. In ancient times, myrrh had a high commercial value.

african hydnora

It is a plant native to southern Africa. It grows underground except for a fleshy flower that emerges from the ground. When the flower matures, it opens into three or four red lobes. These have hairy edges, which give them an exotic appearance similar to carnivorous plants.

The african hydnora it emits a putrid odor to attract beetles and insects that will be in charge of pollinating it.

Aloe polyphylla

It is a species of succulent plant native to the south of the African continent. It grows only between 2,000 and 2,500 meters above sea level.

It has fleshy leaves that are arranged in a spiral and has no stem. They are very difficult to cultivate and are in danger of extinction.

wildlife of africa

The fauna of the African continent is perhaps one of the most recognized by the citizens of any part of the world, since many are majestic animals, which have amazed humans with their great size, their impressive speed, their ferocity and other unique characteristics.

Almost all of these animals inhabit exclusively the African plains, not found anywhere else in the world, except perhaps behind bars in big-city zoos, where they are kept in captivity for display as tourist attractions.

We could mention hundreds of different species that represent the African continent. However, in this list we will describe only some of the most recognized:

The lion (Panthera leo)

It is one of the most striking and well-known large mammals throughout the world, despite the fact that prides of wild lions only inhabit scattered populations on the plains of Sub-Saharan Africa.

They are hunting animals, which feed on large mammals such as zebras, antelopes, wild boars, among others.

These cats have a complex social structure in which lionesses are the hunters of the pack. They attack and chase their prey until they surround it and position themselves a few meters away, in order to catch it with their jaws and powerful claws.

There is a very marked physical characteristic that differentiates male lions from female lions: males have a thick mane around their necks, while lionesses do not. Adult lions can weigh between 150 and 200 kg and female lions can weigh between 100 and 150 kg.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Like the lion, this is another large carnivorous feline. However, this animal hunts its prey (usually gazelles) alone, taking advantage of its good eyesight and great speed. It is the fastest terrestrial animal on the planet earth: it can reach 115 km/h in a space of 400 m of plain.

This feline is in critical danger of extinction, as there are very few specimens left on the African plains.

They are polygamous and solitary animals. Females raise the young cheetahs to near adulthood. Once they finish raising the young, they separate from the young and look for a new male to mate with.

Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

It is the tallest land animal that exists. It is characterized by a long neck that it uses to feed on the leaves in the treetops and can weigh up to 1700 kg.

Giraffes inhabit the African continent exclusively, preferably in savannahs and grasslands, but have been observed in dense African forests in times of extreme drought.

They have a great sense of smell and sight, their fur is distributed in a pattern that creates dark spots delimited by cream-colored stripes, on the front of their head they have not very developed horns.

They usually live in large herds, but they are very heterogeneous groups; that is, individuals are constantly exchanged between groups.

It is estimated that giraffes can live between 20 and 25 years. They do not have natural predators, however, sometimes the packs of lions stalk the packs of giraffes where there are some weak or dying individuals, and attack them in coordination.

Zebras (Equus sp.)

There are three species of zebras and they all inhabit exclusively the African continent. These animals at first glance are very similar to donkeys or horses. However, they are distinguished by their fur, which has a color pattern with black stripes interspersed on a white background.

The zebra is perhaps the most numerous large wild mammal on the entire continent, and lives throughout the savannahs and in many arid areas. It feeds on grasses and shrubs, consuming almost all parts of the plant, from branches, bark, to ground shoots.

They can measure up to 2.5 m long and live up to 30 years. They are very social animals that live in large herds made up mainly of females and a few males.

The NU

The NU (Connochaetes) is a placental mammal belonging to the Bovidae family. It has a robust body, with the forequarters more developed than the hindquarters. A long beard hangs from its neck and its extremities are elongated, ending in legs with two fingers and sharp hooves.

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius)

It is a large semi-aquatic mammal that lives in a very territorial way in rivers and lakes. Hippos live in herds of 30 to 40 individuals, where the vast majority are female and a few individuals are male. It is listed as one of the most aggressive animals in the world.

The hippopotamus is the fifth largest land animal in the…

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