Location: Ntchisi Mountain and Forest Reserve

General Information

Quarter degree square: 1334A3

Country: Malawi

Habitat: Submontane evergreen forest, Brachystegia woodland and pine plantations.

Altitude range: 1400 - 1650 m

Annual rainfall:

Location (short): Mountain and Forest Reserve in Ntchisi District, Central Region, Malawi.

Location (detailed):

Description

Copied from Dowsett-Lemaire in Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 59(1/2): 47-48 (1989):

Ntchisi is one of several peaks above 1600 m in the Dowa Hills, but is the only one still bearing forest in this densely cultivated and eroded district. The forest is of one block, roughly oval in shape, and from a ridge 3 km long (at 1600-1640 m) spreads down towards the southeast. Most of it (223 ha) is Pouteria lower submontane forest; below 1450 m there are about 30 ha of mid-altitude Pouteria-Newtonia forest in a few gullies, with some lowland elements confined there. Brachystegia woodland and small conifer plantations surround the forest. At a distance of 107 km from the southern tip of the Viphya Plateau, and 93 km from the nearest forested hill to the south (Chongoni Mt), Ntchisi is the most isolated submontane forest in the country.

Pouteria rises 5-10 m above the canopy (25-30 m). Albizia schimperana with wide-spreading, flat crowns reaches 40 m in some gullies. A characteristic feature of Ntchisi is the abundance of large strangling figs: Ficus scassellati and F. sansibarica are widespread, F. thonningii becomes dominant on the ridge. Other locally frequent large trees are Macaranga capensis and the light-foliaged Celtis gomphophylla. Many species of Afromontane trees, common elsewhere, are absent here, e.g. Cola greenwayi, Cussonia spicata and Polyscias fulva.

Nuxia congesta, restricted to forest edges further north, occurs throughout the understorey. Garcinia aff. semseii and Myrianthus holstii are the most conspicuous medium-sized trees, also Craibia brevicaudata and Tabernaemontana stapfiana above 1500 m. This Garcinia was previously confused with G. kingaensis (Chapman & White 1970: 142): the appearance of the straight trunk and regular symmetrical branching is similar, but this species differs in its broader leaves, details of venation, the larger size of the fruits (oval, 3 cm long), and all parts exude an abundant orange latex - whereas G. kingaensis has little latex of a pale yellow colour. It could be conspecific with G. semseii, a tree known only from the Nguru and Uluguru Mts of Tanzania, but flowering material is needed to confirm this. Many trees were in fruit in January-February 1983, but none in 1984.

In contrast to other forests further north, Rubiaceae are not a major component of the lower tree storey - Coffea, Psychotria and Tricalysia species are surprisingly absent. Above 1500 m however, Rytigynia macrura, with its characteristic long flat horizontal branches and light foliage, becomes frequent. R. uhligii, more widespread, has semi-scandent habits. The gullies are most luxuriant at around 1500 m, with tall thickets of Brillantaisia cicatricosa (2-4 m) and large-frond ferns much in evidence. Dracaena fragrans is gregarious on the slopes, but does not form dense thickets; there are scattered clumps of Oreobambos buschwaldii bamboo, which lower down (below 1450 m) are confined to streams. Acanthopale pubescens and Brachystephanus africanus, though widespread, are more weakly developed (0.5-1 m) than elsewhere. Of the big climbers, Landolphia buchananii and Tiliacora are abundant throughout; Urera hypselodendron is prominent at higher levels, with massive trunks up to 30 cm in diameter. Dichapetalum ugandense is found on the main path at c. 1500 m. Epiphytes are mostly ferns, orchids being surpisingly rare.

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Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-19

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2019). Flora of Malawi: Location details: Ntchisi Mountain and Forest Reserve.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/location-display.php?location_id=213, retrieved 22 September 2019

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