IDM Zimbabwe - Beechwoods - Faurea
The Beechwoods are poorly understood in Africa. This is partly due to their widespread distributions which means that many species are known by different names in each of West, East and southern Africa and partly due to their being poorly known. There are about 15 species, with 4 known from Zimbabwe.
All species have flowerheads comprising a long stalk bearing dense stalkless (a spike) or stalked (a raceme) flowers. There are only 4 tepals (a single whorl of petal/sepals), which on opening split into 1 free and 3 fused portions. The anthers release the pollen onto the tip of the style (a pollen presenter) on opening. The ovary and fruit are covered with long straight hairs. The leaves have a submarginal vein (on the edge, just inside the margin).
1. Leaves narrow (less than 35 mm), leaves hairless, or with only a few hairs at base. Go to 2.
1 Leaves wide (more than 35mm), most parts especially leaf undersurfaces - with dense velvety hairs. Fa rochetiana
2. Leaves with a distinct stalk, usually about 20 mm long Go to 3
2 Leaves nearly stalkless, with leaf margin running down edge. In rivers and riverine forest. Fa delevoyi
3. Flowerheads red, confined to forest and forest margins of eastern mountains. Fa rubriflora
3 Flowerheads pale, a species of savanna and bushveld. Fa saligna
Two other species may possibly occur in Zimbabwe. However, there are no current records of these species from the country:
Fa macnaughtonii is a pale form of Faurea rubriflora, occurring in similar habitats. It has broader leaves (25-30mm wide), and flowers earlier (Dec-Feb, vs Mar-Apr). Fa macnaughtonii has a very spotty distribution and is very difficult to see (with the leaves and flowers above the forest canopy). It is known from Mpumalanga and Madagascar, and in its habitat it may be replaced by Fa rubriflora.
Fa intermedia is similar to Faurea delevoyi, but differs in having hairy leaves (not green with hairs only at base) that are less than 25 mm wide. It occurs in Brachystegia woodland in Zambia, Tanzania and Zaire.