A Diversity of Plant Life on Poor Soil

  • Claude Martin


R. W Richards called Africa the “odd man out”. The famous botanist, who was the first to describe tropical rainforest in detail, was referring to the plant diversity of African rainforests [34]. Other botanists have also written of the relatively limited number of species on the continent. For all of tropical West Africa, about 7000 plant species have been listed [33] and about 8000 have been counted in the entire rainforest area of both West and Central Africa [10]. Compared to the 8500 plant species supposed to occur in continental Malaysia, a much smaller rainforest area, plant diversity in Africa does indeed appear to be rather limited. Whereas 403 species of orchids occur in West Africa, there are 927 species on the Malaysian peninsula [35]. In Southeast Asia, 100 and often considerably more tree species are found per hectare. There are usually less than 100 in Africa. A study of 23 hectares in rainforests of the highest diversity in peninsular Malaysia revealed 357 different tree species with diameters of 30 centimeters or more.


Forest Floor Secondary Forest Rainforest Tree Dwarf Tree Malaysian Peninsula 
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© Springer Basel AG 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claude Martin

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