Flora of Madagascar
The flora of Madagascar consists of more than 12,000 species of plants, as well as a poorly known number of fungi and algae. Around 83% of Madagascar’s vascular plants are found only on the island. The high degree of endemism is due to Madagascar’s long isolation following its separation from the African and Indian landmasses in the Mesozoic.
About Flora of Madagascar in brief
The flora of Madagascar consists of more than 12,000 species of plants, as well as a poorly known number of fungi and algae. Around 83% of Madagascar’s vascular plants are found only on the island. These endemics include five plant families, 85% of the over 900 orchid species, around 200 species of palms, and such emblematic species as the traveller’s tree, six species of baobab and the Madagascar periwinkle. The high degree of endemism is due to Madagascar’s long isolation following its separation from the African and Indian landmasses in the Mesozoic, 150–160 and 84–91 million years ago, respectively. Human population growth and economic activity have put pressure on natural vegetation in the region, especially through massive deforestation. To preserve natural habitats, around 10%. of the land surface is protected, including the World Heritage sites Tsingy de Bemaraha and the Rainforests of the Atsinanana. The first human presence in Madagascar dates only 2000–4000 years back, and settlement in the interior occurred centuries later. Exotic plants were introduced by early settlers, later traders and French colonialists, and many have become important to agriculture. Among them are rice, the staple dish of Malagasy cuisine grown in terraced fields in the highlands, and greater yam, taro, cowpea, and plantain. Plantation crops include litchi, cloves, coffee, and vanilla, the latter one of the country’s main export produce today.
More than 1,300 introduced plants are known, of which around 600 have become naturalised, and some invasive. Madagascar is the island with the second-highest number of vascular plants, behind New Guinea, and 83% are endemic. About half of the non-flowering plants, ferns, lyaly tree families, count roughly 570 described species in Madagascar. All but three of 47 conifers in Podocarpus species are native to the humid forests, and all but one of 47 cycad species are endemic to the high mountains. The families most rich in species are Annonaceae, Lauraceae, Monocots and Myristicaceae, containing mainly trees, shrubs and herbaceous family Monocotaceae, mainly pepper and pepper. They are highly diversified, with around 94% of flowering plants and magnoliids account for some 320 Madagascan species, which are highly endemic. They include plant families Asteropeiaceae, Barbeuiaceae, Physenaceae, Sarcolaenaceae and Sphaerosepalaceae. The most-rich flowering plants include MonocOTs, mainly lianas and pepper, and predominantly pepper, pepper, lantana, pepper and lilies. The species richness and species richness coupled with a sharp decrease in primary vegetation make the island a global biodiversity hotspot. As many as 96% of Madagasan trees and shrubs are estimated to be endemic.