Original Research

Plants Africa gave to the World

G. Kunkel
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 3/4 | a1195 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i3/4.1195 | © 1983 G. Kunkel | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 November 1983 | Published: 06 November 1983

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Abstract

Although the flora of Africa is rather poor in plant species when compared to the floras of Tropical America or South-east Asia, this vast continent is the home of a wide range of plants useful to Man. Many of these have become famous in cultivation around the world. Coffee now provides an important source of income for certain countries, and the Yams yield one of the world’s staple foods. The Oil Palm and Cola trees are widely cultivated in Africa itself and elsewhere. African Mahoganies and Ironwoods are much sought after timber trees of excellent quality. Numerous grasses and pulses are well-known for their food value, and some of the native Cucurbitaceae are appreciated additions to our vegetable diet.

African plants have also made their contribution to horticulture, ranging from world-famous trees such as the African or Gabon Tulip tree and many of the South African species of Proteaceae to the multitude of East and South African succulents.

The present paper provides a survey of the most important of these useful plants and will emphasize the need of further research for forestry and agricultural as well as horticultural purposes, especially as far as some still little-known but potentially important plants species are concerned.


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