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Plants of the Savannas

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Australia's tropical savannas are home to a diverse range of plants including cycads. Pictured is Cycas armstrongii from the genus Cycas.

The tropical savannas can impress with their sheer scale with mile after mile of uninterrupted grasslands or woodlands. But if you stop to look more closely you will see diversity in the midst of this enormity. A roadside patch of woodland may contain a dozen different types of trees, various mid-storey shrubs, and a range of grasses. All these plants have adapted to the distinctive environment of Australia’s tropical savannas.

For example, in most parts of the savanna plants have to be able to survive a long dry season with months of very little rainfall as a consequence savanna plants are usually very good at conserving moisture and many have become “deciduous” in that they shed their leaves during the dry season.

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Many savanna plants are adapted to regular fire: alight is Pandanus spiralis
Photo: Jean-Charles Perquin

Most savanna plants also have to withstand regular bushfire and there is emerging evidence that the plants of northern Australia have been evolving in a fire-prone landscape for millions of years.

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