Flora of Mauritius


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Introduction / The Vegetation / Bibliography / I.E.L.S Endemic Plant Garden / Press Review /

 

Introduction

(latania loddigessi, Palmae)

The islands of Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues have never been linked to main land Africa. First elements of the indigenous flora were transported to the islands by sea currents, winds, tropical storms and migrating birds or birds carried away to the islands by cyclonic winds.

The Dutch at the beginning of the seventeenth century provided first hand accounts of the wildlife present at that time. The Van Warwick Report of 1601 mentioned that the island was mountainous and covered with forests, the trees being mainly Black Ebony and that edible Palm trees were common in the low lands savannas.

The Vegetation

According to Dr Gurib-Fakim et al (1995), different types of vegetation can be observed from the coastal zones to the high plateau and are, for Mauritius:

Vegetation of sandy shores and beaches

Mangroves

Palm Savannah and the islets ( Round Island, Gunner's Quoin and others)

The low land forests

Savannah

Tropical Evergreen Mountain Forest

Wooded under growth of the high plateau

Hearther tree or briar wood of the high plateau

Marshes of the high plateau


(1) Vegetation of sandy shores and beaches

Though the original distribution of plant species along the coast line has been profoundly modified by man, the present day coastal vegetation is determined by the nature of the soils, the sea spray, rainfall and wind action.

The different types of plants that can be found on the narrow strip of land close to the seashore are as follows:

Wooded shrubs

Bois Matelot (Surina maritima, Surianaceae)

Veloutier vert (Scaevola taccada)

Grasses

Chiendent (Cynodon dactylon)

Herbe pique fesses (Zoysia tenuifolia, Sporobolus virginicus)

Creepers

Liana cocorico (Canavalia rosae, Fabaceae)

Liane Batatran (Ipomoea pescaprae)

Bushes

Veloutier blanc (Tournefortia argentae, Boraginaceae)

Coqueluche (Pongamia pinnata, Fabaceae)

Trees

Badamier (Terminalia catappa, Combretaceae)

Filao (Casuarina equisetifolia, Casuarinaceae)


(2) Mangroves

This type of vegetation is found in brakish waters on muddy or rocky soils. It is common along the eastern shores of Mauritius, in the regions of Trou D' Eau Douce, Pointe D'Esny, Pointe Lafayette and Poste De Flacq. It is also found along the shores of a number of islands like Ile Aux Cerfs and L'ile D'Ambre. The two most common types of mangrove plants are the Rhizophora mucronata and Bruguiera gymnorhiza.

Over the last few years, government has embarked on a very important project which consists of replanting mangrove plantlets at selected places along the shore in view of arresting the considerable degradation of wetlands in Mauritius and Rodrigues.


(3) Palm Savannah and the Islets

Before the arrival of man in the early 15th century, in the drier northern and western regions of the island, there existed a Palm tree savannah which has long since disappeared from the main land. Remnants of it can still be found on Round Island.

This Palm Savannah (Latania, Dictyosperma) also consisted of other type of trees that could survive extreme periods of drought. Such plants are as follows:

Le Bois Benjoin (Terminalia bentzoe subsp. Bentzoe, Combretaceae)

Le Bois de ronde (Erythroxylum lauriflorum, Erythroxylaceae)

Le Bois buis (Grangeria borbonica, Chrysobalanaceae)

Le Bois Quivi (Turraea casimiriana, Meliaceae)

Le Bois de rat (Tarenna borbonica, Rubiaceae)

Le Bois boeuf (Gastonia mauritiana, Araliaceae)

The leguminous plant Gagnebina pterocarpa

Le Bois cabri (Clerodendrum heterophyllum, Verbenaceae)

 

Mauritian Forests

Mauritian forests can be divided into two distinct types.

Forests growing in areas with an annual rainfall of between 1000 to 2500 mm and high altitude humid forest that grows in areas subject to an annual rainfall of between 4000 to 5000 mm.


(4) The Low Land Forests

These types of forests were common in Mauritius before the arrival of man and was found at altitudes less than 250 metres with an annual rain fall of between 1000 and 2500 mm. These forets were cut down to make way for sugar cane plantations and habitations. Nowadays, on the slopes of certain mountain ranges such as the Port Louis, Moka, Black River and Grand Port Mountain ranges among others, remnants of this type of forest can still be seen. Exotics are, however, very much present.

Endemic or indigenous vegetation:

Trees ( 8 to 15 metres high) and Bushes (2 to 8 metres)

Bois D'Ebene noir, (Diospyros tessellaria, Ebenaceae)

Bois D'Olive, (Elaeodendron orientale, Celastraceae)

Bois puant, (Foetidia mauritiana, Lecythidaceae)

Bois de fer, (Stadmania oppositifolia, Sapindaceae)

Bois Benjoin, (Terminalia bentzoe, Combretaceae)

Bois Colophane Batard, (Protium obtusifolium, Burseraceae)

Bois Clou, (Eugenia fasciculata ,Myrtaceae)

Bois De Ronde, (Erythroxylum sideroxyloides, Erythroxylaceae)

Poupartia pubescens, Anacardiaceae

Ficus rubra, Ficus reflexa ,Moraceae

Scutia myrtina Rhamnaceae

Exotics (2 to 15 metres tall)

Bois noir, (Albizia lebbeck ,Fabaceae)

Cassie de Manille, (Pithecellobium dulce ,Mimosaceae)

Cassie à piquants blanc, (Acacia nilotica subsp. adstringens ,Fabaceae), Leucaena leucocephala

Campeche, (Haematoxylum campechianum ,Caesalpiniaceae)

Tamarinier, (Tamarindus indica ,Caesalpiniaceae)

La Colle Savon, (Cordia myxa ,Boraginaceae)

Liane Cerf, (Hiptage benghalensis ,Malpighiaceae)

Vieille Fille, (Lantana camara ,Verbenaceae)

Jamblonnier, (Syzygium cumini ,Myrtaceae)

Prunier, (Flacourtia indica ,Flacourtiaceae)

Privet, (Ligustrum robustum var. walkeri ,Oleaceae)

Bois D'Oiseaux à petites feuilles, (Litsea glutinosa ,Lauraceae)

Herbe tourterelle, (Wikstroemia indica ,Thymelaeaceae)

Ferns

Nephrolepis biserrata

Adiantum rhizophorum

Asplenium viviparum

Moses

Hymenostomum ayresii

Racopilum africanum

Sematophyllum caespitosum

Trachyphyllum inflexum

Grasses

Herbe Fataque, Panicum maximum

Herbe Polisson, Heteropogon contortus

Herbe Esquine, Bothriochloa pertusa and B. glabra, Themeda quadrivalvis

Chiendent bourrique, Stenotaphrum dimidiatum

Aloes, Furcraea foetida


(5) Savannah


(6) Tropical Evergreen Mountain Forest

These forests are to be found at altitudes ranging from 600 m to 700 m on the high plateaux with an annual rainfall of about 3750 mm. The soil tend to be poor in nutrients and rocky.

Three strata can be observed. The highest stratum ranges from 15 to 25 metres, the medium stratum from 8 to 15 metres and finally the lowest stratum from 2 to 15 metres.

The species to be found in the different strata

(1) The 25 to 15 m stratum

Tambalacoque, (Sideroxylon grandiflorum, Sapotaceae) Endemic

Manglier rouge, (Sideroxylon puberulum, Sapotaceae) Endemic

Bois de Natte, (Labourdonnaisia glauca, Sapotaceae) Endemic

Makak, (Minusops maxima, Sapotaceae) Endemic

Bois Colophane batard, (Protium obtusifolium, Burseraceae)

Tatamaka, (Calophyllum eputamen, Clusiaceae)

Bois Colophane, (Canarium paniculatum, Burseraceae)

Bois de Natte à petites feuilles, (Labourdonnaisia calophylloides, Sapotaceae)

Bois d'Ebene Noir, (Diospyros tesselaria, Ebenaceae)

Bois de pomme, (Syzygium glomeratum, Myrtaceae)

Bois de Natte Legentil, (Labourdonnaisia revoluta, Sapotaceae)

Bois D'Olive, (Elaeodendron orientale, Celastraceae)

(2) The 8 to 15 metres stratum

Bois de Lait, (Tabernaemontana mauritiana, Apocynaceae)

Fandamane, (Aphloia theiformis, Flacourtiaceae)

Bois Clou, (Eugenia orbiculata, Mytaceae)

Bois Tambour, (Tambourissa peltata, Monimiaceae)

Bois Lousteau, (Antirhea borbonica, Rubiaceae)

Bois Maigre, (Nuxia verticillata, Loganiaceae)

Bois Manioc, (Erythrospernum monticolum, Flacourtiaceae)

Bois de Riviere, (Homalium paniculatum, Flacourtiaceae)

Bois Bigaiyon batard, (Antidesma madagascariense , Euphorbiaceae)

Bois Dur, (Securinega durissima, Euphobiaceae)

Bois Cerf, (Olea lancea, Oleaceae), (Molinaea macrantha, Sapindaceae)

(3) The 2 to 8 metres Stratum

Bois margoze, (Colea colei, Bignoniaceae)

Bois cassant, (Psathura terniflora ,Rubiaceae)

Fern tree, (Cyathea borbonica, Cyatheaceae)

Bois piment, (Erythroxylum macrocarpum, Erythroxylaceae)

Bois mozambique, (Ludia mauritiana, Flacourtiaceae)

Gaertnera psychotrioides, Rubiaceae

Bois Lousteau, (Antirhea borbonica, Rubiaceae)

Fandia, (Cyathea excelsa, Cyatheaceae)

Bois bouquet banané, (Ochna mauritiana, Ochnaceae)

Coffea mauritiana, Rubiaceae

Exotiques

Goyave de Chine, (Psidium cattleianum, Myrtaceae)

Troene or privet, (Ligustrum robustum, Oleaceae)

 

 

 


(7) Wooded undergrowth of the High Plateau (Plaine Champagne type)

Exotics such as Goyave de Chine (Psidium cattleianum, Myrtaceae), Framboise marronne (Rubus alceifolius, Rosaceae), Arbre de Noel (Ardisia crenata, Myrsinaceae) and Troene also known as Privet (Ligustrum robustum, Oleaceae) have invaded this type of habitat. But there still remains some endemics like Le Manglier Rouge (Sideroxylon puberrulum), Le Manglier Vert (Sideroxylon cinereum), L'Immortelle (Helichrysum proteoides), le Bois De Pomme (Syzygium coriaceum)


(8) Hearther tree or briar wood of the high plateau




(9) Marshes of the High Plateau




Press Review

Médecines douces, Pr A. Gurib-Fakim "Un label mauricien des plantes médicinales en gestation" 11 avril 2003

Grâce aux efforts de botanistes mauriciens et britanniques Le "café marron" ne disparaîtra pas( 17 novembre 2001)

Surexploitation de la flore rodriguaise Les artisans se lancent dans la reproduction des plantes endémiques 9 septembre 2001) 

BIODIVERSITÉ Un "Super grillage" pour sauver nos forêts (15 juillet 2001)

BOTANIE: Le "Trochetia Parviflora" redécouvert (13 Avril 2001)

Les zones humides : un univers à protéger (27th of January 2001)

A new species of trees described (21 August 2000)

Measures to save Mauritian Forests(19th of July 1998)

 

Bibliography

  1. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim & Joseph Gueho, Plantes Medicinales de Maurice, Tome 1, Editions de L'Ocean Indien, Universite de Maurice, Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, 1995.
  2. Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, L'Office De La Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre Mer, The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Flore Des Mascareignes, 111 Campanulacees à 120 Salvadoracees.
  3. Jayantee Naugah, Khemraj Sooknah, Karl Sambat, Exploring Nature: Some Common Plants, 2001

Date on the web: 3rd of May 1999

Last update: 12th April 2003