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ethiopian highlands: eco info: animals
vegetation This is agriculture country. Both teff, a durable grain, and coffee - Ethiopia's trademark crops -- are grown in the highlands. In the south and east, grassy savannas with three to six- acre- farm plots give way to east Africa's most extensive forests.

Teff (Erogrostis tef):

Teff This hardy grain provides Ethiopians with the majority of their food needs. An endemic plant, it was first cultivated in the highlands between 4,000 and 1,000 BC. It is most frequently served as injera, the large pancake with which Ethiopians eat their food. Since teff can be cultivated under both drought-like and rainy conditions, it is frequently used to combat starvation. It grows relatively quickly and can be eaten by humans or cattle. Today, teff is a popular health food in Europe and the U.S.

Coffee (Coffea arabica):

coffee A highlands native, coffee is Ethiopia's main export. It is widely agreed that Ethiopians were the first people to cultivate coffee plants for use as a beverage. Ethiopian legend attributes the discovery of coffee's caffeine kick to a 9th century goatherd whose animals began acting strangely after eating coffee berries. He, in turn, sampled some, and a beverage was born. As of 1999, Ethiopia was the third largest coffee exporter in Africa, after Côte d'Ivoire and Kenya.

Ensete (Ensete edulis):

ensete A close relative of the banana, ensete is grown primarily in Ethiopia's Gurage country. This tall, thick, rubbery plant is a highlands native and is used by the Gurage for everything from roofs to bread. Ensete's leaf stems and inner bark can be ground into an edible paste. Although this plant has a reputation for staving off famine, few Ethiopians beside the Gurage will eat it willingly.

Ethiopian Rose (Rosa abyssinica):

ethiopian rose Africa's only rose, the cream-colored Ethiopian rose can be found throughout the highlands. Its edible fruits, high in vitamins, are regularly eaten in times of food shortages. The berries also are used to fight tapeworm in humans.

Red-Hot Poker (Kniphofia uvaria):

red-hot poker A native of South Africa, the red-hot poker grows throughout the Bale Mountains. This perennial requires full sun to light shade to bloom; its orange, spear-shaped flowers attract hummingbirds who can munch away at the flowers.

Hagenia (Hagenia abyssinica):

hagenia Also known as kousso. Reaching heights of 20 ft., this Ethiopian native produces a fragrant greenish or purplish flower that, taken in powdered form and diluted with water, can be used to kill tapeworms. A French pharmacist who first studied the tree in the 1840s noted that its use was so effective that Ethiopians would not travel without some of the powdered kousso with them.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus):

eucalyptus After deforestation stripped Addis Ababa nearly clean of trees, the Australian eucalyptus was the substitute. The tree is also found throughout highland villages. Eucalyptus trees can grow to as high as 300 ft. Their leaves are leathery and hang vertically; their fruit sits in a wooden base. They are excellent for providing shade, but they are also used for fuel and for buildings and fences. Their bark can be used in papermaking and tanning.

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