Biodiversity

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT RESTIONACEAE

The family Restionaceae is part of an important and defining element in Fynbos i.e. restiods, the other two elements include: ericoid and proteoid. This family dominates in the Western Cape, 341 of the 350 species are found in this region and in the Cape Floral Region it dominates in the South Western Mountains (207), Northern Mountains (139) and in the Cape Peninsula (107). The bedrock on which they occur include: Table Mountain Sandstone, acid coastal and shale.

Their main plant form is tufted but other plant forms are also observed such as: clumped, mat forming and tangled. Most Restionaceae species have a compact base type without rhizomes or stolons (211), although rhizomes (100) and stolons (77) are present in some species. Majority of these plants reach 1 m in height. Fire plays an important role in Fynbos and plants that belong to this biome are readily exposed to this harsh yet essential disturbance. These plants have therefore adapted to fire by either resprouting or reseeding after fires. Dispersal methods include winged seeds,dispersal by wind, or some seeds contain elaiosomes (a lipid) that attract ants.

This family also has some economic uses; some species are used for thatching, horticulture and grazing. Fortunately most of this family is not threatened although some species are classified as rare and a minority (8) is classified as endangered.

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