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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Grasses, Sedges and Ferns



Tall bushman-grass (Stipagrostis ciliata) is probably one of the most common grasses found in the central Namib. It can be easily recognized by its magnificent feather-like inflorescence with a ring of dense hair around its nodes. It is both an annual and perennial plant, depending on the amount of moisture it receives.

(Stipagrostis ciliata) occur in a wide range of Namibian habitats and is most common on gravel and sandy plains. It is also habits many parts of southern Africa including the Karoo and Kalahari. As it grows in abundance in the country. It is readily available as a grazing supply in southern Namibia and the Namib Desert in general. There are over 30 species of Stipagrostis in the country and many of them are similar in appearance.

Stipagrostis sabulicola

This is a large mound-building coarse-grass that has been known to occupy areas up to 50m². The roots and leaves are completely different from those of the Trianthema hereroensis, as this dune grass is not able to take in water through its leaves, but via its impressive network of roots that lie close to the surface, reaching out up to a distance of 20m. Many of these roots lie within the upper 1cm of the sand or entirely exposed to the surface. Like the Trianthema, it is restricted to the Namib sand sea, but extends further eastwards, to the inland periphery of the dunes.

As fog rarely penetrates this far, there is a greater chance of rain. The surface root makes full use of any downpour. If you do go on the lookout for this plant, then it grows in unstable areas where other grasses don't succeed to grow. The Stipagrostis sabulicola and the Trianthema hereroensis are the only two plants that can survive on the dunes during prolonged dry periods, the main difference (apart from appearance) is that the former absorbs water (fog) through its leaves and the latter through its roots.

Spiny Cladoraphis

A common sight in the riverbeds and dunes throughout the Namib Desert is the spiny cladoraphis (Cladoraphis spinosa), so called because of its 'extremely spiny appearance'. This characteristic distinguishes spiny cladoraphis, a perennial grass, from other Namibian grasses.

It can be found, just as the milk bush, throughout the Namib Desert from Angola all the way south to the Orange River in the Northern Cape.

Grasses - cultivated grasses are the most important staple food for man. Natural grasses provide food for livestock. Grasses are obviously less abundant in the Namib Desert than in the rest of the country and spiny cladoraphis (Cladoraphis spinosa) occurs throughout the Namib Desert.

  • Blue buffalo grass (Cenchrus ciliarus)
  • Gha grass (Centropodia glanca)
  • Bushman grass (Schmidtia kalaharienis)
  • Spiny cladoraphis (Cladoraphis spinosa)
  • Stipagrostis Sabulicola
  • Tall bushman-grass (Stipagrostis ciliata)
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