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Lepidagathis fischeri

A bizarre, cushion-forming herb, Lepidagathis fischeri is resurrected annually following fire and subsequent rains in the woodlands and grasslands of eastern Africa.
Lepidagathis fischeri flowering on bare roadside soils in the Mufindi Highlands of Tanzania

Lepidagathis fischeri flowering on bare roadside soils in the Mufindi Highlands of Tanzania.

Species information

Scientific name: 

Lepidagathis fischeri C.B.Clarke

Conservation status: 

Not considered to be threatened. Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.

Habitat: 

Miombo woodland (dominated by Caesalpinioid legume trees, such as Brachystegia species), usually on rocky slopes or on laterite outcrops; fire-prone montane grassland; and often on disturbed open ground such as roadsides.

Key Uses: 

None known.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Lamiales
Family: 
Acanthaceae
Genus: Lepidagathis

About this species

Lepidagathis fischeri is a striking species of the Acanthaceae family found in fire-prone habitats in east Africa. It has peculiar, dense, cushion-like heads of flowers held at the base of the plant, which is surrounded by radiating, leafy stems. The annual, leafy shoots are burnt off each year during the dry season, leaving only the woody base and the old, burnt flower-cushions, from which the new shoots emerge following the subsequent rains.

Dr Kaj Vollesen, Kew botanist and expert on the African Acanthaceae, has remarked that the flowers of this species resemble a group of baby birds begging for food from their woolly nest!

Synonym: 

Lepidagathis rogersii, Lepidagathis lindauiana

Genus: 
Lepidagathis

main info

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