Plants in Madagascar
Madagascar as country has a lot of endemic plant species that can be seen when one visits the Island and these plants can hardly be seen in another place besides Madagascar. The country has more than 1000 plant species which are endemic and these all depend on the part of the country that you are in that is the western part of Madagascar normally consists of grasslands, the south western part of Madagascar has spiny forests whereas the East and central part of the country has tropical forests. The weather experienced in the different parts of Madagascar also highly influence the type of vegetation that is found in the different areas.
The Bismarckia nobilis
The Bismarckia nobilis also known as the Bismarck palm or Satrana is located in the North western part of the country and it is greatly used by the locals for various purposes. It has become endangered due to the many locals that cut it down when they want to roof off something like houses and partitioning of walls in a room. The constant mining in the area has also increase of cutting down the Satrana tree.
The Madagascar Ocotillo
The Madagascar Ocotillo is a rare species that can be found in the country and it is known always surviving the semi desert dry conditions that is even if the country does not receive rainfall throughout the year, it remains intact. The thick bark that it has helps it in storing water for a very long time and it can grow up to 15 meters high. The leaves are deciduous especially in the dry season although they are normally oval during the wet season, the flowers grow in large numbers and are either green or yellow. It is not extinct at the moment because sanctions were placed on it so that encroachment and cutting them down stops.
The Madagascar banana tree
The Madagascar banana tree can be found in the stony forests in Madagascar and there are only five stems in the whole country. Many of the banana stems in the country were spoilt by a virus that ate them up leaving them almost extinct and all these need to be kept safe. The government of Madagascar is trying all they can to ensure that the remaining few banana trees are well taken care of.
The Baobab trees
The baobab trees are some of the endemic tree species that are found in the country and these grow to be high with thick barks. Baobab trees in Madagascar also produces fruits which are harvested by the locals but these do not grow most of the year as they have a specific month in which they grow and become ready. Madagascar has three endemic species of the baobab and these include the following:
- The Suarez monkey bread
The Suarez monkey bread is located in the city of the Diego Suarez and that is where they got their names from. These are smaller than the rest of the baobab trees and they rise below 20 meters and grow under other trees that are found in the area. They are also becoming extinct due to the increased deforestation in the country and that is why they are hard to spot.
- The Za Baobab
The Za baobab is quite large and can be found in various places in Madagascar. There are different types of baobab trees that can be found in the different regions of the country. Za baobab grows about six meters wide and 40 meters high and they have a large base with a brown color.
The fruits of the baobab are oval shaped and have seeds inside that have the shape of a kidney and the flowers begin to blossom in the months of November and February. The tree can withstand dry conditions but not for long as it requires soil that is well drained.
- The Perrier’s monkey bread
The Perrier’s monkey bread has a few trees left in the country and this is due to the fact that they have been cut down by the locals who want to clear land for agriculture and settlement. They grow to up to 25 meters high and they can easily be spotted in the Ambilobe village although they are less than twelve tree species of the Perrier’s monkey bread in the whole of Madagascar.
The octopus tree
This is found in the south western part of Madagascar and it is a tree species that are used to semi-arid conditions. The tree has thorny spiky leaves which are octopus like and these help it to sustain in the dry season by maintaining water in their stems and it can be seen in the different spiky thorn forests that are found in the different parts of Madagascar.
The Tahina Palm tree
The Tahina palm tree is located in the North western part of Madagascar in the Mahajanga Reniala Park. It is a short palm tree and it is becoming extinct due to the wild fires and grazing done by the animals.
The Darwin’s orchid
The Darwin’s orchid which is endemic to Madagascar grows on the Eastern coast of the country normally grows while attaching itself to other trees especially to trees with wide branches that have less or no leaves. It is extremely large and has a star shaped flower which comes out during the winter seasons. The star flower that appears on the Darwin orchid changes from green to white in like two days and the plant is considered as one of the most robust flowers in Madagascar. The trunk of the Darwin orchid either grows straight or curved and some people cut it down for firewood.
It has been cut down by the locals so that they get land for agriculture and settlement and at the moment it is facing extinction and that is why the government of Madagascar has put up sanctions on its trading without a license.
The Madagascar periwinkle
The Madagascar is mostly used for medicinal purposes especially in the 1950s to treat the diabetes. It can be found in the different gardens in the country and due to its popularity when it comes to medicine has ensured that the locals preserve it which has greatly increased its capacity in the country. The Madagascar periwinkle has a pink flower or white flower and this flower has been used to decorate people’s houses.
The traveler’s palm
The traveler’s palm is also an endemic to Madagascar and it can be found in the various parts of the country. It was named the traveler’s palm due to different theories attached to it one of being that it grows on an East to West line which acts as a compass to lost tourist and the other is that the stem has sheaths that hold water and travelers can draw it out and drink it in case they run out of water. It grows in a symmetrical way and rises up to 7 kilometers and it gives off a good backdrop for photographs.
The Tapia tree
The Tapia tree is located in the Norther highlands of Madagascar and it is locally known as the Tapia by the Malagasy people. They produce a sweet Tapia fruit which is sold in the different markets that are found in the country and it is a habitat for the silk worm which is referred to as the Borocera. It can hardly be found anywhere else in the world and the only time you can see it is if you visit the highland forests of Madagascar.
The Tapia tree grows only in the highland of Madagascar because of the humid and tropical rain kind of climate that is found in the area. This helps it grow in time before the fruit is harvested when it is ripe.
Most of the plant species that are found in Madagascar are used for different things especially medicine for the locals. Most of the locals cannot afford to go to the hospitals to get medication and that is why they use the various trees that are found in the country to treat the several ailments that come to them. The above mentioned plant species are not the only ones that are found in Madagascar as there are more to see once you get to visit the country and you can double your visit by also viewing the different animals that are found in the trees like the birds, lemur which are also endemic to the Island and also get to see other tourist attractions.
When you visit the Island of Madagascar, a tour guide will take you through the tour of the various tree species that are found in the country but they will not explain everything as regards to the medicinal value as the Malagasy people are always secretive of their knowledge, remember to also ask for permission before you take any photographs of the locals and read the guidelines that govern the places you are to visit.