Location: Musisi Hill and Forest Reserve

General Information

Quarter degree square: 1033B1

Country: Malawi

Habitat: Brachystegia-Uapaca woodland, tall grassland, montane grassland, montane evergreen forest and riverine gully forest.

Altitude range: 1400 - 2000 m

Annual rainfall:

Location (short): Prominent hill surrounded by a small plateau in northern Malawi East of Jembya and North of Nyika.e

Location (detailed):


Copied from Dowsett-Lemaire in Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 59(1/2): 38-39 (1989):

Musisi is a prominent hill (peak between 1900 and 2000 m) rising above a small plateau at 1400-1600 m. It is isolated from the Jembya Plateau to the west (20 km distant) by the valley of the Lufira (1300 m) and from the northern Nyika to the southeast by that of the North Rukuru (800-1000 m). The ridge on Musisi, above 1800 m, runs for some 4 km from north to south. The main forest consists of two patches spreading down the eastern scarp and measuring 73 and 114 ha. The major expanse of forest lies between 1830 and 1700 m, continuing as broad riparian strips in steep gullies down to 1600 m. Thin Brachystegia-Uapaca woodland ascends to 1600 m; from 1400 to 1700 m the grassland on the secondary ridges is extremely tall and rank and likely to be fire-induced. Above 1700 m it is replaced by shorter montane grassland on shallow, pebbly soils. The western scarp (not explored) is dissected by numerous streams with dense strips of forest. The general impression from both escarpments is that forest was probably far more extensive in the recent past.
The forest canopy varies between 25 and 30 m in height, and is interrupted by large gaps here and there, presumably caused by fire. Chrysophyllum gorungosanum is the commonest large tree, with Macaranga kilimandscharica (above 1700 m), Parinari excelsa and Polyscias fulva also conspicuous. Garcinia kingaensis dominates the mid-stratum; Brucea antidysenterica, usually a rare tree, is very widespread in the understorey. Of the climbers, Tiliacora funifera and Clerodendrum johnstonii are abundant, the former locally in thickets. The steep broad gully that runs southeast from the main forest patch has a jungle of Acanthaceae shrubs (especially Acanthopale pubescens) and ferns near the stream. The semi-parasitic nettle Procris crenata grows on straight vertical trunks at mid-levels and, though leafless in June, was conspicuous in that area. The semi-scandent Turraea stolzii and Rytigynia bugoyensis also favour the vicinity of the stream. Croton megalocarpus and Podocarpus falcatus, 25 m tall, were found on the ridge higher up (1750-1830 m), where they were not uncommon; Cola chlorantha grows in the understorey in the same area.
In riverine forest lower down, Harrisonia abyssinica occurs in light shade up to 1600 m.

Useful links

View a list of records for Musisi Hill and Forest Reserve

View a list of unique taxa (excluding cultivated plants) for Musisi Hill and Forest Reserve

View a list of unique taxa (all taxa whether cultivated or not) for Musisi Hill and Forest Reserve

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View a list of recorders who have visited this location

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Location details: Musisi Hill and Forest Reserve.
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/location-display.php?location_id=217, retrieved 25 April 2024

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