The plants exist in the savanna have special characteristics that allowed them to survive and strive in the tough savanna conditions.
Those plants adapt themselves to tolerate the lack of water and hot temperature.
There is a variety of plants in the savanna. From different kinds of grasses to trees that can live up to 3000 years, how magnificent is that! to see a tree that lived before Jesus was born!
savanna is not a forest. It has a woodland-grassland ecosystem. The savanna trees are widely separated and spaced. This fact results in the sunlight reach the ground to enrich the savanna grass.
if you are lucky enough to have a walk in the savanna you will notice that the ground is covered with grass. And each tree is distant enough from the other one to form an open canopy.
below I will take you through the most iconic plants in the savanna, enjoy the virtual safari trip!
the baobab tree is my favorite plant in the savanna. It has a unique look, characteristics, and benefits. In the African savanna, local tribs consider the baobab tree as a symbol of resilience in the face of hardships.
The plant is native to the savanna. Therefore the savanna climate and ecosystem left its marks on the tree look and its unique adaption abilities.
it has a strange look! actually some people call it the upside-down tree because it looks like its roots climbing the air.
especially in the dry season when it discards its leaves to use the stored water in its trunk more efficiently. In that season, its branches look like roots in the air.
there is a lot of legends surrounding this tree. In Africa, some native people believe that when the world was young the baobab tree was standing proudly upright.
But it did something wrong, which made the gods angry, so they flipped the tree upside down.
also, some savanna native tribes believe that the woman who lives in villages surrounded by baobab trees will have more children than other women who don’t.
Modern science support and explain this claim. Due to the fact that the soup made from the baobab leaves which is a traditional soup for savanna native tribes contains rich vitamins which compensate for any diet deficiency. Therefore it increases the fertility rate.
The baobab fruit can be soaked to make a refreshing drink. It tastes like lemonade. the fruit contains a lot of vitamins and rich nutrients, especially vitamin C.
also in savanna, local people roast the baobab seeds after socking it in water. And use it as a coffee-like drink.
baobab tree plays a vital role in the savanna ecosystem because it feeds a lot of animals and insects. Elephants love to eat from the baobab bark. also, birds nest in its branches.
The baobab tree has an interesting and unique trunk. Which is smooth, shiny, and very large to the extent that it can accommodate up to 40 people.
baobab uses its trunk to store as much water as it can to use it in the dry season. When no rains and no water. This function and need materialized and shaped this magnificent and unique bark.
In the savanna, fires are common phenomena, which led the baobab tree bark to be fire-resistant.
local savanna people use baobab trunk for different purposes such as water storage and sometime bus-waiting shelter.
they also use it to make clothes, rope, mats, and musical instrument strings.
baobab leaves are rich in calcium and protein, it can be boiled and eaten.
Acacia is the most iconic plant in the savanna. When you hear the phrase: “Savanna plants” most probably the first picture that will cross your mind is the Acasia plant.
Also, it is one of the most used African icons. It appeared a lot in the famous movie (The lion king) it is that tree that looks like an umbrella!
Acacia tree is extremely a fast grower when compared with the baobab tree. Which I mentioned earlier as my favorite plant in the savanna.
acacia grows up to three feets each year. At the same time, it has a short life span. It lives between 15 to 20 years. It grows either as a tree or shrub.
The savanna ecosystem made this plant very intelligent and it adapted very well to its conditions.
Savanna is a habitat for a wide range of animals that feed on plants like giraffe and elephants. It seems that the acacia tree is the favorite food for giraffe.
In order for acacia to survive from the browsers eating its leaves. It naturally evolved and developed thrones to hinder the browsers from eating its leaves.
while this natural mechanism does not ensure stoping the giraffe from feeding on the acacia. But it stops the overfeeding and ensures the ecosystem balance.
Also, there is another phenomenon manifested in acacia that tells and points out to the fact that nature is intelligent. And each part of it is connected.
the phenomena is that there is something like an agreement between ants and acacia tree (Mutal interest). Acacia tree shelters ants in its throne base and provide them with nectar to feed on.
and the ants return the favor by biting any browser who tries to eat acacia leaves.
another smart mechanism acacia use to defend itself when giraffe starts to eat its leaves is that it release toxic substance through all it leaves to toxicate the leaves and made it inedible for the giraffe.
this toxic substance called tannin. It makes the leaves taste horrible and it might cause serious harm if digested by a giraffe or other browsers.
but it is not the whole story yet. Actually, the acacia tree has more tricks to defends itself in the wild savanna.
when the browsers start to eat the plant leaves, The plant beside releasing tannin to toxify the leaves and force the browser to seek another plant. It also releases a chemical on the air to warn other acacia plants in the area about this browser.
The other plants will respond to this message by releasing tannin to toxicate the whole area so the browser will run away.
Acacia tree has huge economic value to the countries where it resides. Because it produces Arabic Gum. Arabic gum can be used in many food and pharmaceutical products.
We talked about plants in the savanna that has tasty fruits and many benefits and uses. But, not this one. and definitely not this one!
If one day you visited the savanna. You will notice the candelabra tree, but don’t touch it or get close enough to it. Because it is seriously poisonous.
It has a white sab that will cause burning blisters in the skin. And it will cause blindness if it contacted the eyes.
just enjoy looking at it from distance. It is a tall tree that can be 40 feet tall.
The name candelabra came from the way its branches grow straight away from its trunk. In local African savanna villages, people use candelabra shrubs as a living fence to keep wild animals away.
It is one of the savanna famous plants that mainly resides near the waterways in the savanna. Also known as Uganda grass. Farmers use elephant grass to feed their livestock.
This savanna plant can reach in hight up to 4 meters. It looks like sugar cane. the savanna is rich with elephant grass. Many animals consume this plant as one of their main source of food.
No wonder why they call it elephant grass. One of the iconic pictures of the elephants that most probably fixed in anyone’s mind is where the elephant eats grass. Guess what! that tall grass in the picture most probably will be elephant grass.
Due to the tough conditions of the savanna, elephant grass plant evolved to be very tolerant of water drought. With its wide root system that can invade other plant’s space to reach water sources.
if you decided to plant elephant grass consider how it roots will invade the space and plan accordingly.
in the dry season of the savanna, elephant grass tends to be more yellow-colored due to the lack of water. While in the wet season it looks green and flourishing.
Many farmers use this grass as an insect’s control technique. They grow elephant grass beside the valuable crops to move the harmful insects from the crops to the elephant grass.
This method of pests control is very effective and costs less than using a pesticide.
Also, the wide and invasive root system of the plant makes it very useful for stopping soil erosion. It also one of the plants that increase soil fertility.
savanna is a very generous area that gave us elephant grass which can be used as an effective biofuel. It can abundantly replace the coal. If it produced, processed, and managed properly.
jackalberry tree is one of the magnificent plants in the savanna. It is a tall and proud plant that it sometimes reaches 80 feet in height. But on average it reaches between 13 to 18 feet. It has a huge trunk that has a circumference of 16 feet.
The ecosystem in the savanna is really interesting and gives a lot of wisdom. It tells how living beings interact with each other to survive and many times to cooperate and coexist.
the jackalberry tree gives a good example for this point through its relationship with the termite.
the tree roots work as a shelter for termite. While the termite returns the favor by tuning the heavy soil to more aerated soil for the tree. And also provide the soil with moisture.
the termite lives on the dead organic matters, therefore they don’t eat the tree roots. Even after people cut the jackalberry trunk to use it on furniture and floors. Termite does not consume or penetrate the tree wood.
therefore jackalberry wood one of the world’s finest and high-quality wood material for floors because of its resistance to termite. And also very solid and durable.
a lot of animals in the savanna eat different parts of the tree. For example baboons, warthogs, and nyalas eat the jackalberry fruit. While elephants, rhinos, and giraffe love to eat the tree leaves.
Savanna plants adaptation
The savanna climate is very tough for most plants to live in. In the savanna, there are only two seasons. the wet season and dry season. In the dry season, there is a serious lack of water due to a lack of rainfall.
This season lasts for six months. therefore plants in the savanna adapt and evolved to cope with these harsh circumstances. Most plants in the savanna have wide and deep root systems that penetrate the ground to reach a water source.
Some Savanna plants like baobab store huge amounts of water in its trunk. It uses this water at the dry season and discards its leaves to use its water more efficiently.
Also, baobab evolved to develop Origen ( bulbs), that it uses to store water.
The look of the plants in the savanna differs in the dry season from the wet season. In the dry season, the plants go dormant and barely surviving. And its leaves turns to the yellow color due to the lack of water.
while in the wet season the savanna looks green and flourishing. Besides the lack of water in the savanna, the savanna plants face another challenge.
The challenge of being eaten and consumed by the wide range of animals that also lives in the savanna. But savanna plants adapt themselves very well to this challenge.
Some savanna plants like acacia release a toxic substance in their leaves when they sense the browser eating their leaves. This toxic substance makes the leaves inedible to animals. At the same time, the same savanna plant releases chemicals on the air to send a signal to other plants in the same area.
It is a notification that there is a mammal around. The other plants release toxic substances through their leaves to toxicate the air of the whole area. This will force the animal to run away.
The savanna ecosystem is unique and very rich. Every living being in it plays a vital role in the savanna survival. Plants, ants, and animals interact and live together to ensure the survival of the savanna.