Adenia globosa(Photo by Wendy Cutler, Flickr)

1- Mpaga(Adenia globosa): Native to the African tropics, Mpaga can be found in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia. It produces round leathery green fruits and has a succulent stem with thorns that are 8 cm long. Being an ever-versatile plant, it has the ability to grow in savannahs, shrublands, and forests! In East Africa, it is used by Maasai as a source of medicine for their cattle. Fortunately, it is not in danger of extinction and is found in large numbers.

2- Sphagnum Moss: Having a funny name isn’t the only cool aspect of this plant. Although mostly occurring in Northern Hemisphere wet habitats, it can also be found in Kenya and is vital to forest health. It even aids in protecting against drought by storing a large amount of water that it releases slowly! This green moss is low to the ground, lacks flowers, and has a fuzzy texture and star-shape look. Not only can this moss help with forest health, but it can also be used to staunch bleeding! If you find yourself hiking along by some sphagnum moss and accidentally cut yourself on a branch, you don’t have to leave your hike, but instead, the surrounding nature can heal you.

Strophanthus petersianus(Wikimedia Commons)

3- Sand Forest Poison Rope(Strophanthus petersianus): Despite its ominous-sounding name, this plant species is absolutely beautiful. It has swirls of reddish-pink stripes that droop down like perfectly made curls and can be up to 50 feet long! It is native to the coastal forests and rocky woodlands from Kenya south to South Africa. Some groups of Indigenous peoples have used this plant for arrow poison, and the Zulu people of current Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa have been known to use it as a charm to ward off evil. 

4- Cordia africana: This large tree is found in wooded grassland, forest, and riverine areas at altitudes up to 2100 meters in tropical Africa. It is common in pastureland in Tanzania. It’s round, yellowish fruit is edible. It is captivating to look at with its often crooked trunk and white, delicate, flowers. This tree is more than just a pretty face; it is a multipurpose plant! It provides food, medicine, materials, and shade as well.

5- The African Tulip Tree(Spathodea campanulata): This gorgeous flowering tree is also called the fountain tree, Nandi flame, or pichkari. It is native to the tropical dry forests of East Africa. Having leaves that can grow up to 2 feet long and intense orange flowers blooming in the canopy, this tree looks like a green cloud dotted with living flames. These flowers do not just boast a complicated design, but every flower bud contains pressurized nectar. It takes a skilled hand to squeeze the bud just right to turn it into a water pistol that is accurate up to 10 feet!

Spathodea campanulata(Wikimedia Commons)