Bi Grasslands

Grasslands (also known locally as Grassveld) are dominated by a single layer of grasses. The amount of cover depends on rainfall and the degree of grazing. Trees are absent, except in a few localized habitats. Geophytes are often abundant. Frosts, fire and grazing maintain the grass dominance and prevent the establishment of trees.
There are two categories of grass plants: sweet grasses have a lower fibre content, maintain their nutrients in the leaves in winter and are therefore palatable to stock. Sour grasses have a higher fibre content and tend to withdraw their nutrients from the leaves during winter so that they are unpalatable to stock.
At higher rainfall and on more acidic soils, sour grasses prevail, with 625 mm per year taken as the level at which unpalatable grasses predominate. C4 grasses dominate throughout the biome, except at the highest altitudes where C3 grasses become prominent.
Grass plants tolerate grazing, fire, and even mowing, well: most produce new stems readily, using a wide variety of strategies. Overgrazing tends to increase the proportion of pioneer, creeping and annual grasses, and it is in the transition zones between sweet and sour grass dominance that careful management is required to maintain the abundance of sweet grasses.
Lekker Links
South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Biomes.
Forests; Fynbos; Nama-Karoo; Savannas; Succulent Karoo.
Wetlands; Coastal & marine.
The Grassland Biome is the mainstay of dairy, beef and wool production in South Africa. Pastures may be augmented in wetter areas by the addition of legumes and sweet grasses.
The Grassland Biome is the cornerstone of the maize crop, and many grassland types have been converted to this crop. Sorghum, wheat and sunflowers are also farmed on a smaller scale.
Urbanisation is a major additional influence on the loss of natural areas – the Witwatersrand is centred in this biome. The Grassland Biome is considered to have an extremely high biodiversity, second only to the Fynbos Biome. Rare plants are often found in the grasslands, especially in the escarpment area. These rare species aria often endangered, comprising mainly endemic geophytes or dicotyledonous herbaceous plants. Very few grasses are rare or endangered. The scenic splendour of the escarpment region attracts many tourists.
(Source: ‘The Vegetation of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland’, South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism)

Latest posts

  • Johnny Clegg

    Jonathan (Johnny) Clegg was born June 7, 1953 in Rochdale near Manchester in England. Already in his youth, Johnny Clegg, a white, English-speaking person with what he called a ‘secular Jewish’ upbringing in Britain, Israel, Zimbabwe and South Africa, became interested in Zulu street music and took part in traditional Zulu dance competitions. As a […]

    Read more

  • Wessels

    Away fro city life… I met a European couple (the guy from the Netherlands and the girl from UK) in Australia a couple of years ago. They are now planning to come visit South Africa later this year and I thought it may be useful for European travellers to hear a South African’s opinion of […]

    Read more

  • how many months income do you need for a mortgage in south africa

    It is a common misconception that you need a large deposit to get a mortgage in South Africa. You can actually get a mortgage with a deposit of as little as 3% of the purchase price. However, the size of your deposit will affect the interest rate you are offered and the amount you will […]

    Read more