This paper describes vegetation in the nothern Sudd area of the Sudan. A visit by boat was made in April 1978 along the White Nile from Malakal to Lake No; to the inflow regions of the Bahr el Jebel, the Bahr el Zeraf and to the Bahr el Ghazal. Only the vegetation along the fringe of the rivers was observed as plants were tall and dense and it was not possible to penetrate into the inner swamps.
The outer edge of the vegetation was fringed by extensive mats of free-floating Eichhornia crassipes which was easily dislodged and formed floating islands to be carried downstream. The main rivers, excluding the Bahr el Ghazal, were too deep and turbid to support beds of submerged species but plants such as Ceratophyllum demersum could be found amongst floating plants.
Vossia cuspidata usually produced a broad zone to the landward of Eichhornia. It dominated the shallow water with a floating raft of stems growing out from the shore over the water surface. Massive stands of Cyperus papyrus and/or Phragmites karka, over 5 metres tall, dominated the vegetation behind and sometimes excluded the Vossia zone. The papyrus could form dense, floating rafts of rhizomes at the water's edge, but Phragmites always remained firmly rooted to the bottom. Floating papyrus and Vossia would become detached from the main beds and drifted downstream with Eichhornia.
Creepers were common amongst papyrus but less common amongst Phragmites where the vegetation was generally more dense. Large stands of Typa domingensis were observed behind the fringe vegetation.
The vegetation of the Bahr el Ghazal, in marked contrast to the rest, was stunted, and reasons for this are suggested. Species diversity was greater and the less turbid waters allowed considerable development of floating-leaved and submerged species.
Estimates of fresh weights and heights of dominant vegetation types were attained but methods were very laborious and alternative ways have been suggested. The fresh weight of Eichhornia from a one metre square quadrat in the White Nile was around 70 kg. The shoots of Phragmites weighed 18.5 kg and Cyperus papyrus, 11.0 kg m−2.
KeywordsSudan swamp vegetation Sudd
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