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Savanna Sahara Sahel Ethiopia Rainforest Great Lakes Great Lakes Savanna Swahili Southern Africa

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savanna: eco info: vegetation
Most savannas are dominated by grasses of varying species, depending on the area's rainfall and top soil conditions. Serengeti grasses are called "sward" --a mix of palatable grasses consumed by grazing animals like antelope. Many savanna regions are also dotted with hardy trees like the drought-resistant acacia and the water-conserving baobab. Both have specially designed root systems that allow them to make the most of what little water the region has to offer.

Acacia (Acacia):

Acacia, whose deep root systems are ideal for semi-arid climates, are among the most common trees found in the Sahel. The tree's feathery leaves protect its bark from dry winds. If it doesn't rain, acacias may not produce leaves. The tree blooms in yellow or white fuzzy flowers. The bark of most acacias produces tanin, which is used in tanning leather; a variety of acacia native to the Sahelian Sudan, acacia senegal, produces gum arabic, used in pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Baobab (Adansonia digitata) :

An African native, this drought-and fire-resistant tree is found throughout the Sahel. It is one of the largest trees on the planet, with trunks that are often 50 ft. wide, and heights of up to 85 ft. . In the dry season, the baobab is completely without leaves. Some local legends say that spirits planted the baobab tree upside down, thus accounting for its scraggly appearance in the dry season. The bark can be used for rope and cloth; the trunk, when hollowed out, as a shelter.

Red Oat Grass (Themeda triandra):

Also known as kangaroo grass or bluegrass, this is a tough, bluish-green grass that can grow over 3 feet tall. At the end of the grass's growing cycle, it dries to a golden yellow and sports flattened, fan-like seed pods. While this is one of the most common grasses in the Serengeti, it has very low nutritive value.

Rabbit-Tail Fountain Grass (Pennisetum mezianum):

A tufted grass that grows to about 3 feet in height, the rabbit-tail fountain grass sports blooms in the dry season that look like short, fluffy, purple caterpillars. This grass flourishes in poor, dry soil under full sun.

Baobab Photo Credit/Copyright: Robert Williams www/robs-travel-photos.com

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