Vegetation of Lesotho

Vegetation of Lesotho

Five vegetation communities in the alpine catchments of Lesotho were identified by hierarchical classification of the botanical composition data. Discriminant analysis indicated that these communities occupy particular topographic positions. The community‐environment relationships identified in this study were similar to those reported from other alpine areas of Lesotho. Grasslands at high altitudes are temperate in nature, with a high proportion of grass species. Below 2 950 m on the warmer aspects and below 2 750 m on south‐facing slopes, subtropical grass species dominate the sword. Within the temperate and subtropical vegetation belts, slope orientation dictates the proportion of species present in the sword. It is proposed that topography acts to modify the factors that directly influence plant growth by modifying solar radiation patterns.

The vegetation in Lesotho consists largely of grasslands and bushveld. Forests cover only 1% of the land area and are found in some areas in the north and south of the country. Trees that are indigenous to the land include Cape willows, cheche bush, and wild olives. Soil erosion and overutilization have severely changed the grasslands. Reforestation plans have not been met with much success. Numerous types of aloe can be found in Lesotho, such as Aloe polyphylla, Aloe ferox, and Aloe Striatula.

Aloe polyphylla, also called spiral aloe, have a five-pointed growth habit. Five ranks of leaves form the spiral, with each rank containing around 15 to 30 leaves each. This plant grows in high, mountainous slopes and can commonly be found in the high Maluti Mountains. The spiral aloe grows where temperatures are cool and wet, with high levels of rain and moisture. It flowers at the beginning of summer and turns a pale red and salmon color. The plant is often covered in snow in the winter months. The spiral aloe is very sought after as decoration in Africa. Unfortunately, the species usually die soon after being removed from its natural habitat, making it highly endangered. South Africa law has incriminated buying or collecting the plant.

Lesotho is known to have beautiful Cosmos flowers that are found spread out across the high plains. They are herbaceous perennial plants.

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