Spiny Forest of Madagascar

March 12, 2018


Photographer: Carmen Morosan
Summary Authors: Carmen Morosan; Jim Foster

Shown above is a portion of the spiny forest of southern and southwestern Madagascar. Sometimes called the spiny desert, spiny thicket or stick forest, this deciduous wooded region is a separate ecosystem. Unlike most of the hot arid and semiarid regions of the world, where many plants are succulents, the trees here are typically woody (Didiereaceae family), storing water within their distinctive spines. The Didierea Madagascarinsis trees pictured here, commonly known as the octopus trees, are endemic to Madagascar.

Because the prevailing northeast winds are partially blocked by the central highlands, the spiny forest ecosystem receives less than about 20 inches (500 mm) of rain per year, nearly all of it falling between October and April. Unfortunately, these unique forests are disappearing or becoming fragmented as a result of agricultural expansion. Photo taken at the end of the dry season in late October of 2017, just outside the coastal town of Belo Sur Mer in southwestern Madagascar. This area is characterized by patches of bare saline ground, with spiny forest on slightly higher ground. 

Photo Details: Camera: SONY DSC-RX100M2; Exposure Time: 0.0016s (1/640); Aperture: ƒ/5.6; ISO equivalent: 160; Focal Length (35mm): 28; Software: Windows Photo Editor 10.