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Succulents are plants specially adapted to hot, dry areas with long periods of drought. Many families are represented in Africa, but no species of true cactus occurs naturally. Fig cactus species were introduced from Southern and Central America.

The name succulent derives from the Greek word Sucus = sap.

A layer of wax covers the plant to reduce evaporation. The pores are also tiny for the same reason. The plant material can store a big amount of water to endure dry spells. Succulents have many different faces and are very interesting. Who would like to know more: http://www.fgas-sukkulenten.de

Photos von Elvira















Desert roses (Adenium obesum) belong to the family of Apocynaceae like the Oleander and are highly poisonous. After rain they stick out pinkish from the brown vegetation. Photo from Samburu National reserve.


About 83 Aloe species (Family Aloeaceae) exist in East Africa. From the 60 species in Kenya 25 are endemic. Unfortunately many people believe that every Aloe is an Aloe vera and therefore valuable for medicine and cosmetic. People collect them despite it is forbidden since 1978. But the protection is not enough because also many of their biotopes get destroyed. Picture from the Chyulu Hills.




Aloe lacertida




A rare species is the Aloe ruspoliana, named in honor of an Italian explorer. (Family Aloaceae). The flowers are yellow. Photo from Meru National park.


Aloe lacertida, a quite widely spread species.







Aloe secundiflora grows in Kenya and Tanzania. Picture from Serengeti NP.


Aloe at Oldupai gorge.










Aloe sp in Serengeti National park.


This Aloe species is relatively frequent in this area. The long, narrow leaves belong to Sanseviera robusta. Photo from Shaba National reserve.







Aloe sp. in Samburu.











Candelabra Euphorbia (Euphorbia candelabrum, Family Euphorbiaceae) belongs to the largest succulents in Africa. They can grow up to 15 m and occur mainly in open grass savannahs. The white poisonous sap does not deter black rhinos from chewing off the bark which can lead to the death of the plant. Pictures from Masai Mara, flowers to the right.




euphorbia magnicapsolar





Euphorbia magnicapsular var. lacertosa can be found in different variations. Photo from Meru National park.









Euphorbia sp. in Tsavo West National park.


Euphorbia heterochroma. Hetero = various, chroma = colour, describing the different phases. This describes the different stages of the flowers and the three lobed fruits. This plant occurs in different subspecies in dry stony areas in Kenya and Tanzania. They need to be handled carefully since the white sap can affect. Photo from Lake Bogoria.






Finger euphorbia (Euphorbia tirucalli). The cute little flowers are whitish. It can grow to a thick bush and is used to fence of compounds. The big advantage, goats do not eat it. The Maasais call it Emanyara which gave Lake Manyara its name. They grow in semi-arid areas East Africa’s. Picture from Oldupai Gorge.















It looks like a cactus but it isn't. Cissus cactiformes adjusted in a similar way to survive in arid areas. Climbing on other plants with tendrils is characteristic for the family of Vitaceae. The small leaves belong to Acacia mellifera. Picture from Oldupai Gorge.


Cissus quadrangularis with leaves typically shaped like in vine plants, flowers and fruits. Photos from Lake Bogoria and Tsavo East.








The round leaves belong to Cissus rotundifolia. Often you can find different plants growing side by side or over each other. Masai Mara.


The elephant foot ball (Pyrenacantha sp., Family Icacinaceae) grows mainly in acacia-commiphora bush land up to an altitude of 1.600 m. Elephants dig for the bulbs to get water during dry season. Picture from Tsavo East.












Adenia globosa pseudoglobosa is a succulent of the family of Passifloreaceae. The thorny plant grows spreading over the whole tree. This subspecies occurs in Voi and Magadi / Shompole area. The plant produces a poisonous white sap. The right one grows in Shompole region, the left one at the main entrance to Tsavo East National park.














Sanseviera frequens (Family Draceanaceae) prefers shady places under tall trees. Photo from Tsavo East.


Sansevieria ehrenbergii (Familie Draceanaceae) wächst im Gebiet der Oldupai Schlucht und hat ihr auch zu ihrem Namen verholfen. Ähnliche Arten, wie die Sanseveria robusta kommen ebenfalls in Ostafrika’s Trockengebieten vor.














Caralluma sp. (Family Apocynaceae, former Asclepiadaceae /
subfamily Asclepiadoideae). In Africa 100 species of Pachycymbium /
 Caralluma exist. Picture from Oldupai gorge.


Caralluma sp. from Samburu area.





Caralluma foetida from Bogoria area.
Family Apocynaceae, former Asclepiadaceae / subfamily Asclepiadoideae


Caralluma foetida






Kalanchoe sp (Crassulaceae/Dickblattgewächse) from the Masai Mara. More than 200 species can be found up to 2.500 m in East Africa.





Kalanchoe densiflora


Kalanchoe densiflora occurs from 1800 to 2725 m vor. Aberdares National park.