Vumba Nature

Sub montane grasslands are open habitats, at all times exposed to weather influences. The ground is covered with grasses and herbaceous plants, trees or shrubs are hardly found.

There is a lively discussion about the origin of the grasslands, some people claiming that they are mainly secondary and created mainly through influences of man, others state that they are mostly primary habitats evolved through long term climatic changes. Whatever the origin, they are an important part of the environment today. They are home to specific plants, birds, butterflies, etc, and therefore need to be looked after.  Extensive areas of grassland can be found along the main Vumba road from Cloudlands to Leopard Rock, separated by patches of forest. Grass species found here are Eragrostis acrea  which forms large clumps, Loudetia simplex common on poor soils and Themeda triandra found on better soils. Growing in the grassland are many species of Helychrysum and Senecio, several terrestrial orchids, aloes (A. swynnertonii, A. rhodesiana)Kniphofia linearifolia and occasional, isolated trees such as Cussonia spicata, Erythrina lysistemon and Protea spp.

 

protea grassland eragrostis helichrysum cussonia spicata

 

Grasslands are easy targets for Wattle invasions. Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) was originally introduced from Australia as a commercial source of tannin. It is a fast growing tree, producing thousands of seeds. The seeds can survive for a long time in the soil and germinate readily after fire. If the wattle is not controlled,  open areas - such as grasslands - will change into dense wattle forests, leaving little to no opportunities for the indigenous flora & fauna.  One way of controlling the wattle invasions is to rip the young trees out of the ground before they flower for the first time. It is a fairly easy and cheap measure, which requires manpower only. It needs to be done  regularly over a long period of time, preferably when the seedlings appear after an area has been burned.

 

 

wattle invasion