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To list all trees would exceed the capacity of this website since there are more than 1.000 in East Africa.. But still we would like to introduce a few which might capture your attention on safari.

Photos by Elvira Wolfer











Baobabs or monkey bread tree (Adansonia digitata, Family Bombaceae). Undoubtedly this magnificent colossus is the most frequently-discussed botanical phenomenon in Africa and its pre-historic appearance provides for one of the most dramatic landscapes Africa has to offer. Some specimens were possibly around before the birth of Christ, making them the oldest living relics of ancient times. Because of its moisture content, the bark is much favoured by elephants. They cause severe damage, especially during times of drought when large portions of inner trunk wood are chiseled out. But still these fascinating trees survive. It is claimed that this wood contains as much as 40% water (some reports say 75%), classifying it as the world's largest succulent. They grow in dry areas up to an altitude of 1.000 m.

The fruit pulp yields one of the highest known contents of vitamin C. Monkey like the fruits which also gave it the name monkey bread tree.

Pollination is effected by the Straw-coloured Fruit-bat (Eidolon helvum) in North and Central Africa. This bat species is one of the largest to be found in Africa and has a wingspan of 75 cm. Bush babies as well pollinate the large white flowers. Hollow trunks provide shelter for birds, bees, bats and fruit bats.

In Botswana a hollow baobab serves as toilet house and an other one in Kasane served as jail. Many stories and superstition go round about these trees. One thing is for sure, each is a unique personality.






Markhamia (Markhamia lutea, Family Bignoniaceae) growth to a tree of 10 - 15 m. It occurs above 1.500 m and is found in Nairobi, Nyeri and Nyanza provinces. The fruits are many and grow up to 75 cm long.







Also characteristic trees are the sausage trees (Kigelia africana, Family Bignoniaceae). Since they do not only grow below 1.000 m as the baobab does, they are wider distributed. Main pollinators of the dark red flowers are fruit-bats. Fallen flowers are eaten by antelopes, genet cats, porcupines and monkeys. The fruits are taken by elephants, monkeys and insects. You are standing under a sausage tree and look up to 4 kg weighing fruits.

In Western Kenya you find a different species – Kigelia moosa. The fruits have a different shape.

















Sycomore Fig (Ficus sycomorus, Family Moraceae) belong to the most conspicuous and beautiful trees along rivers in many parts Africa’s. The fruits of these up to 21 m tall trees are eaten by monkeys and birds and grow directly on the massive stem and branches. As all figs they are pollinated by wasps inside the fruit.

Many more fig species grow in the area, but the Sycomore is the most beautiful one.


Strangler figs (Ficus thonningii) grow up and around other trees which they suffocate with time. Sometimes you can therefore find a tree with 2 different kind of leaves. The sculptures can look very interesting. Picture from Arusha National park.









African greenheart or pepper-bark tree (Warburgia ugandensis,  Family Canellaceae) is one of the big trees in the gallery forest along rivers. The ripe fruits turn into purple and attract monkeys and birds. Twigs are used to clean teeth. The sap is very spicy!

The leopard on the tree was chased by lions.




Tamarinds (Tamarindus indica, Family Caesalpinoideae) are indigenous and occur mainly along the coast or at altitudes below 1.500 m with enough rainfall. They grow up to 25 m high and keep their leaves throughout the year. The fruit pulp makes a pleasant cooling drink.











Delonix elata (Subfamily Caesalpinoideae, family Fabaceae/pea family) are very attractive when flowering. They resemble a bit the Craveta adansonii, which belongs to the family of Capparaceae. You recognise the Delonix elata by their smaller leaves and bean like pods. Mostly they grow 5 – 8 m height but can also reach 15 m occasionally. The pictures are taken in Samburu and Tsavo West.











Craveta adansonii (Family Capparaceae) is a further conspicuous and handsome tree in dry areas. The bark shines in the sunlight; the yellowish flowers have long stamen, which is typical for this family. The yellow fruits can be eaten. There are many more plants in the caper family growing in Africa.










Terminalia (Family Combretaceae - Terminalia family). 4-winged capsules and leaves at the end of a twig characterise the terminalia family. Left Terminalia prunioides, right Terminalia spionsa. Both grow in dry and low areas and grow to nice trees. Combretaceae mostly occur in tropical countries as trees, shrubs and climbers.













Large-fruited bush willow (Combretum zeyheri, family Combretaceae). The fruits are wooden capsules with 4 - 5 papery wings and can measure up to 8x8 cm. The photo is taken in Lake Manyara National park.

Fruits of a Balanite in Amboseli National park.








Desert dates (Balanites aegyptiaca, family Balanitacae) belong to the most frequent trees in the grass savannah, especially in the Masai Mara. Beside shade they produce date like edible fruits and provide resting and nesting places for birds. Lapped-faced vultures often build their nest on them. Other balanite species are more shrubs with long thorns.


A small conspicuous climbing tree is the Blue-barked Cordia (Cordia goetzi, Family Boraginaceae). Unusual is the angular stem and the bluish bark. Up to now I only came across them in Lake Manyara National park.










Podocarpus sp (Family Podocarpaceae) are the only indigenous conifers on the Southern African continent. They grow from between 900 and 3.150 m on the slopes of mountains.  This individual stands in the Aberdares and is decorated with lichen which is evidence of the humidity in the forest. The red berry like fruits are eaten by parrots.


African rosewood (Hagenia abyssinica, Family Rosaceae) is a typical mountain forest tree from 2.400 to 3.600 m. The tree is either female or male. Male flowers are smaller than female once. The wood is liked for carving also because of its lovely pattern.










The cabbage tree (Cussonia holstii, Family Araliaceae) can be recognised by its unique flowers and leaves creating a cabbage like shape at the end of branches. This tree grows in highlands in or near forests between 1.500 and 2.000 m.


The African Pencil Cedar (Juniperus procera, Family Cupressaceae) got almost extinct due to overharvesting for producing pencils. It is strictly protected nowadays. It grows up to 40 m height and occurs from 1500 to 3000 m. Good to find at Mt. Kenya and in Arusha National park.






Red Hot Poker Tree, Lucky bean Tree (Erythrina abyssinica. Family Leguminosae, Subfamily Papilionoideae) grow up to 12 m in height and are widely distributed in open woodland and grassland from sea-lever to 2.000 m. The seeds are bright red with a black patch. Flowers before the leaves shoot.