Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Mountains of the mist: a first plant checklist for the Bvumba Mountains, Manica Highlands (Zimbabwe-Mozambique).

Abstract

The first comprehensive plant checklist for the Bvumba massif, situated in the Manica Highlands along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, is presented. Although covering only 276 km2, the flora is rich with 1250 taxa (1127 native taxa and 123 naturalised introductions). There is a high proportion of Orchidaceae and Pteridophyta, with both groups showing a higher richness than for adjacent montane areas, which may be due to the massif's relatively high moisture levels as a result of frequent cloud cover. However, in contrast to other mesic montane regions in southern Africa, there are relatively few near-endemic or range-restricted taxa: there is only one local endemic, Aeranthes africana, an epiphytic forest orchid. This is likely to be an effect of the massif having limited natural grassland compared to forest, the former being the most endemic-rich habitat in southern African mountains outside of the Fynbos Biome. Six other near-endemic taxa with limited distribution in this portion of the Manica Highlands are highlighted. The high number of invasive species is probably a result of diverse human activities in the area. The main species of concern are Acacia melanoxylon, a tree that is invading grassland and previously cultivated land, the forest herb Hedychium gardnerianum which in places is transforming forest understorey with an adverse effect on some forest birds, and the woody herb Vernonanthura polyanthes which invades cleared forest areas after fire. Future botanical work in the massif should focus on a more detailed exploration of the poorly known Serra Vumba on the Mozambican side and on the drier western slopes. This will allow for a more detailed analysis of patterns of endemism across the Manica Highlands.