Included here is the area based on Brazil’s Provinca de la Caatinga and includes the highlands of northeastern Brazil. It extends from Turiacu south to the southern boundary of the state of Espirito Santo. Caatinga is a term that was used by indigenous people to describe open forest or white forest.

Caatinga Fixed Dunes

Dune vegetation is mainly confined to the paleodunes along the Sãn Francisco River between Ibiraba and Casa Nova (Bahia State) extending north to the Gurguéia Valley (Piauí State) and the Moxotó Valley (Pernambuco State). In the former area, which has been described as the little Sahara, the dunes can reach heights of up to 40 m above the adjacent river, and the vegetation is largely dominated by a patchy scattering of small trees and shrubs. Here plant species diversity can be considerably lower than other Caatinga formations. The most frequent species include trees such as Copaifera coriacea, Mouriri pusa, Ouratea glaucescens, Peltogyne pauciflora, Ruprechtia ramiflora, Simaba ferruginea and the endemic Bombacopsis retusa (Bombacaceae), Commiphora leptophloeos (Burseraceae), Maytenus rigida (Celastraceae) and Pterocarpus simplicifolius (Fabaceae), shrubs such as Bocoa mollis, Byrsonima gardnerana, Croton sonderianus, Harpochilus neesianus, Ximenia americanus and the endemic Chamaecrista belemii (Fabaceae), Cratylia mollis (Fabaceae), Jatropha mutabilis (Euphorbiaceae), Senna gardneri (Fabaceae), and the two endemic succulents Pilosocereus gounellei and P. tuberculatus (Cactaceae). Some trees, such as Bombacopsis retusa, Mouriri pusa and Pterocarpus monophyllus can grow to heights of 5 m or more but most woody species are less than 2 m. A number of these woody species provide an important food source, in the form of fruits and seeds, for various local endemic rodents.

At ground level there is a distinct lack of herbaceous cover with much of the sandy soil exposed apart from occasional patches of the terrestrial bromeliad Bromelia antiacantha and the small cactus Tacinga inamoena. Epiphytes are absent but a few climbing plants (lianas and vines) occur such as Cardiospermum corindum, Centrosema brasilianum, Chaetocalyx scandens, Dalechampia scandens, Ipomoea setifera, Serjania comata and the endemic Dioclea marginata (Fabaceae) are present. There are also a few hemiparasitic species like Phoradendron linearifolium, Psittacanthus bicalyculatus and Strutanthus syringifolius. Other endemic plants found here include trees such as Callandra macrocalyx (Fabaceae), Godmania dardanoi (Bignonaceae), Hymenaea eriogyne (Fabaceae), Pterocarpus monophyllus (Fabaceae), Ziziphus joazeiro (Rhamnaceae) and shrubs such as Aeschynomene martii (Fabaceae), Allamanda puberula (Apocynaceae), Cordia globosa (Boraginaceae), Manihot heptophylla (Euphorbiaceae), Lantana caatingensis (Verbenaceae), Mimosa xiquexiquensis (Fabaceae), Pavonia varians (Malvaceae) and Sida galheirensis (Malvaceae).


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