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The number of small plants is amazing. Some are endemic while some occur in many African countries. Some are very choosy in the habitat, others have a wide range. To find good literature is difficult and therefore it is not easy to identify plants. Here we just list some to show families, genus and where known species. Flowers are not only interesting for botanists but can also fascinate others. Especially after rain some areas become an ocean of various flowers. Many of these seasonal plants have bulbs to survive the dry season.

Photos by Elvira Wolfer


















After rains plants which during dry season can not be seen shoot and colour the areas. Pyjama Lily (Crimum macowanii, Family Amaryllidaceae). Widespread.

Amaryllis (Ammocharis tinneana, Family (Amaryllidaceae).
Masai Mara














Just before you reach the entrance to Manyara National park you find beautiful
samples of Calotropis procera (Family Apocynaceae, subfamily Asclepiadoideae
. Maasais use the sap of this plant the remove hair from animal skins. When you
open the fruit capsules seeds with silky threads fall out.

Gomphocarpus fruticosus (Family Apocynaceae, subfamily Asclepiadoideae).
Over 180 species in this genus occur in Africa.









Stathmostelma rhacodes










Subfamily Asclepiadoideae. Stathmostelma rhacodes, is a tuberous herb often found in swampy areas between 1300 and 2500 m. 10 species in EA.

Chlorophytum cameroonii, (Family Asparagaceae, subfamily
Agavoideae). Over 120 species in this subfamily grow in Africa.









Albuca bracteata Pregnant onion

Pregnant onion (Albuca bracteata). The plant has long narrow leaves and 50 - 100 flowers on top of a up to 1 m long stem. Bulbs let it endure dry spells. If indigenous to East Africa or introduced from Southern Africa is not known.
Family Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloidea




















The caper family is represented by several genus in Africa. Some are small trees, others bushes or climbers. The fruits of some are edible. Maerua sp

Cleome hirta from the caper family
(Capparaceae) in Meru National park.











The cotton family (Malvaceae) has 200 genuses worldwide with almost 2.300 species. The most famous once are probably Hibiscus. Some are used for medicine. Most grow in grass land and can grow up to an altitude of 3.000 m.











Pavonia urens from Meru Natioanal park.

Hibiscus cannabinus, Meru National park

An other Malvae species from Meru National park.
















Hibiscus vitifolius, Family Malvaceae

Abutilon sp.




A large family is the one of the Asteraceae or Compositae. In the sun flower it is best to be seen that many flowers are bound together like in a basket.



















Tithonia diversifolia (Compositae) originates from Central America is naturalised from 1500 to 2000 m.

Psiadia punctulata (Compositae) grows from 1200 -
2300 m. There are 40 species of this genus in tropical Africa.







Vernonia sp









Cirsium vulgare (Family Asteraceae or Compositae)

Vernonia sp (Family Asteraceae or Compositae). Aberdares













Crossandra subacaulis (Family Acanthaceae), Nairobi region

Crossandra massaica (Family Acanthaceae). 17 species of
this genus occur in East Africa. Picture from Masai Mara.









Crossandra sp










Crossandra sp Nairobi region

Heliotropium sp. (Family Boraginaceae/Forget-me-not).
Photo from the Aberdares.









Murdannia simplex









Commelina sp, family Commelinaceae, a family of mainly tropical herbs.

Murdannia simplex (Family Commelinaceae)
is not choosy in its habitat up to 2.100 m.









Sesamum calycinum









Sesamum angolense (Family Pedaliaceae). 5 species from sea level to 2.500 m. Often numerous plant stand together.


Sesamum calycinum (Family Pedaliaceae) single plants in drier areas. Nairobi region.
















Labiatae exist in the whole world. Mostly one petal is lip shaped and the stem quadratic. Some are strongly aromatic like pepper mint and other plants used from this family. Crotolaria sp.



Vigna sp.









Satureia pseudosimensis

Satureia pseudosimensis, Family Labiatae or also called Lamiaceae









Leucas grandis










Leucas grandis Family Labiatae or Lamiaceae. Widespread.










Astripomoea hyoscyamoides in the family of morning glories
(Convovulacae). Meru National park.

An other morning glory from Meru National park - Ipomoea spathulata









Ipomoea ochracea

Ipomoea ochracea Family Convolvulacae. Occurs in different habitats in Kenya. The flower has a diameter of 2.4 - 4 cm.

The very similar Ipomoea obscura has smaller flowers (2.5 cm) and prefers warm areas between 600 - 2300 m.




Tylosema fassoglense (Family Leguminosae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae). This plant creeps along on the soil surface and occurs up to 2.000 m. Meru National park.



















Flame lily or Turk’s cap (Gloriosa superba, Family Iridaceae). Widespread.


Fire ball Lily (Haemanthus multiflurus), (Family Amaryllidaceae). Widespread.. Photo from Arusha National park.









Gladiolus ukambanensis









 Gladiolus ukambanensis / Acidanthera candida occurs in stony grassland in Machakos district. Uncommon from 600 to 1200 m. (Family Iridaceae)


A Turk’s cap from Samburu (Family Iridaceae)



Gladiolus watsonoides (Family Iridaceae) grows in humid mountain forests. Picture from the Aberdares.





















Alpine poker (Kniphofia thomsonii, Family Asphodelaceae). The 70 existing species grow in Africa, but are introduced in gardens  Europe.
Picture from Aberdares National park.


Orobanche sp. (Family Orobanchaceae). Plants in this family parasite other plants. They do not grow leaves and also there is no chlorophyll in the stem. The leaves on the pictures belong to other plants.










Rangaeris amaniensis









The Orchid Rangaeris amaniensis is an epiphyt in dry forested areas.

Argemone sp. (Family Papaveraceae). Nakuru National park.









Pentas parvifolia
Pentas lancolata









Pentas parvifolia (family Rubiceae / coffee family)
is an erect shrub common in dry bushland.

Pentas lanceolata (family Rubiceae / coffee family)
is a small plant in dry bushland.









Pentanisia ouranogyne

Pentanisia ouranogyne (Rubiaceae) a small
plant growing in drier areas from 500 to 2500 m.













Craterostigma pumilum (Family Scrophulariaceae). The leaves grow in rosettes. They can be found after good rain between 350 and 2.250 m. Different colours exist. Picture from Nairobi.

Craterostigma sp. near Nairobi









Clerodendrum myricoides

Clerodendrum myricoides (Family Verbenaceae) grows at forest edges or forested areas from 1.500 to 2.400 m.