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Ethiopia Botanical Tour

Red hot poker 2African Adventure Tours has special trained botanical guides.

Botany of the Simien Mountains

The landscape of the Simien Mountains stretches over different altitudes allowing a great variety of biotopes: Afro-Alpine woods, heath forest, high mountain vegetation, mountain savanna and moorland. Alpine mosses (Grimmiaceae) and Usnea Lichen cover the little trees of the high altitude forest. On the ridge tops and mountain slopes grows coarse grassland with herbs like Thymus, Trifolium, yellow Primrose (Primula verticillata) and Geranium. This is the home of Giant Lobelias, Solanum bushes, Urticas, Abyssinian Roses, everlastings Helichrysum and Lady's Mantle Alchemillas. Creepers like Clematis Simensis and Galium Spurium grow on the Erica Arborea trees suffocating them in time. Forests of St. John's Wart once flourished at 3,000-3,800m, but few still remain. There are high, but unquantified levels of endemism.

Botany of the Bale Mountains

The mountain forest, the main attraction of the area, changes its composition with increasing altitude. Large Juniper (Juniperus procera) and African Conifer (Podocarpus falcatus) forests dominate the lower altitudes. In specific sites, the tree-like Giant Thistle (Echinops longisetus), with its huge ball-shaped, red flowers, grows up to 4 m high.

As you move upwards, broad-leaved species become more frequent. Schefflera species, in temperate zones known as pot plants, grow here into huge trees. Starting as parasites grafted on other trees like oversized mistletoe, they end up suppressing their host.Torch Lilies (Kiphophia foliosa) cover whole hillsides, with their flame-colored flowers, between June and November. The red flowers of the female Hagenia Abyssinica trees provide an important medicine against tapeworm. In the sub-alpine zone above 3200 meters, forests consist mainly of St. John’s Wart and Erica trees. Lichens hanging from branches covered with moss puffs give a mystical, fairy-tale atmosphere to these forests.

Further up, the forest changes rather abruptly into moors covered with heather. Due to the harsh climate Erica trees reach only bush height. The landscape is scattered with Giant Lobelias (Lobelia rhynchopetalum) which reach here up to 12 m.

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