DixPix Photographs

     

EASTERN AFRICA

 
     
  FLORA--  MIXED FAMILIES  

 

This page collects the plant families which have not fitted into other pages.  Major contributions are from the Potato Family (Solanaceae), the Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae), the Ice Plant Family (Aizoaceae) and the Morning Glory Family (Convolvulaceae).  We will begin with the large and economically important Potato or Nightshade Family.  This is dominantly neotropical, and a major portion of the species found in Africa have been planted and naturalized therefrom.

Sectors for Africa are:-   Critters      Birds      Flora       and  Life/Overview

 

Nicandra physalodes goes by names such as Shoo Fly and Apple of Peru.  It is invasive and widespread from a Peruvian origin, here near Mbinga, Tanzania. Click to see big picture (735x600 pixels; 137 KB)
This is a pink phase of Brugmansia suaveolens.  Along with other of its genus, it has been widely planted from a neotropical beginning, in part due to its colorful flowers, and in part due to its hallucinatory chemistry.  It may actually be extinct in the wild.  Photo from Arusha, Tanzania. Click to see big picture (459x600 pixels; 103 KB)
From the Tanzania-Mozambique border, this is Datura metel, also known as D. innoxia.  It is widespread in tropical and temperate zones with names such as Devil's Trumpet and Horn of Plenty Click to see big picture (713x600 pixels; 138 KB)
A closer look at the flower of the Devil's Trumpet.  Its spread is in part due to narcotic activity and medicinal applications, although it can also be poisonous.  Exterior flower color varies. Click to see big picture (591x600 pixels; 117 KB)
In a garden near Liparamba, Tanzania, we find the familiar, pantropical and painful Tabasco Pepper (Capsicum frutescens).  Originally from tropical Americas. Click to see big picture (696x600 pixels; 72 KB)
I believe that this is the variable Solanum giganteum, a shrub of sub-saharan Africa which is best known for its fruit, with names such as Red Bitter-berry. Photo from near Arusha, Tanzania. Click to see big picture (687x600 pixels; 161 KB)
Also near Arusha, this is Solanum wrightii, the Giant Star Potato Tree. It is a child of the Neotropics, but has been widely planted (and naturalized) due to several applications in folk medicine. Leaf shape is variable, and flowers fade from purple to white with time. Click to see big picture (708x600 pixels; 160 KB)
From the Katsekera area of Malawi, this is Solanum elaeagnifolium, a North American super weed.  It is invasive and toxic and goes by several names such as Bitter Apple.  Here in Africa it tends to be called Satansbos. Click to see big picture (455x600 pixels; 119 KB)

Apocynaceae is usually known as the Dogbane Family after a minor herb of temperate climates, although most of its roughly 5000 species are tropical.  It has now engulfed the Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae) which no longer exists.

 

 
It is known as Giant Milkweed, and Calotropis gigantea can grow to 4 meters height.  It is native to southeast Asia, but has been planted, naturalized and escaped widely and is now pantropical. Click to see big picture (795x600 pixels; 169 KB)
A fuller view of Calotropis gigantea in northern Tanzania.  It is used in folk medicine in many ways in different places, but in general it is poisonous. Click to see big picture (800x600 pixels; 176 KB)
Hoodia gordonii is an unusual succulent of Namibia and southwestern Africa.  Its flowers have a dead meat smell, using flies for pollinization.  Known as an appetite suppressant, Hoodia or Ghaap is threatened in the wild by collectors.  This one has escaped to the Chiau Mita gardens in northwestern Argentina. Click to see big picture (627x600 pixels; 184 KB)
Stapelia grandiflora is a succulent and an unusual member of the family.  It goes by names such as African Starfish and Carrion Plant, the latter due to the smell of its flowers.  Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix. Click to see big picture (412x600 pixels; 113 KB)
The Natal Plum (Carissa macrocarpa) is native to southeastern Africa, but with fragrant flowers and edible fruit it has been planted across temperate and tropical parts of the world.  The fruit has a cranberry taste and may be eaten directly; in South Africa is known as Num-num. Click to see big picture (800x481 pixels; 156 KB)
Gomphocarpus physocarpus is a milkweed which goes by names such as BalloonplantHairy Balls or even Bishop's Balls.  It is native to southeastern Africa, but has been widely planted, and this one was caught vacationing in Hawaii. Click to see big picture (800x562 pixels; 136 KB)
This is a liana of tropical Africa, which in garden circles goes by names such as Spider Tresses and Poison Arrow Vine. Folk medicine uses for Strophanthus preussii include gonorrhea.  KEW Gardens, London. Click to see big picture (542x600 pixels; 85 KB)
As the name would suggest, Thevetia peruviana originated in the Neotropics.  It is a toxic plant, but with long lasting flowers it has been planted across the tropics and has proved invasive.  And here it is in central Tanzania. Click to see big picture (660x600 pixels; 152 KB)
Tabernaemontana pachysiphon is a product of tropical Africa and known in English as the Giant Pinwheel Flower.   With numerous folk medicine applications and fragrant flowers, it has traveled quite widely.  Photo from a garden in Hawaii. Click to see big picture (662x600 pixels; 128 KB)

Aizoaceae is a group of succulents known as the Iceplant Family or as the Carpetweed Family.  With the exception of a few coastal weeds in the Americas, it is basically South African.  For this reason, all photos have been collected from various gardens, where they are popular oddities.

 

 
Carruanthus ringens is also known as C. caninus and is endemic to South Africa. The leaves are almost stemless, and finely toothed. In nature, it forms mats. KEW Gardens, London. Click to see big picture (714x600 pixels; 153 KB)
Another mat or cushion plant is the speckle-leaved Conophytum novicium. Some consider this a subspecies of C. Flavum. Jardin Real, Madrid. Click to see big picture (800x583 pixels; 205 KB)
Delosperma nubigenum originated in southeastern Africa, but has been planted quite widely under names such as Hardy Yellow Iceplant.  University of B.C. botanical gardens, Vancouver. Click to see big picture (762x600 pixels; 139 KB)
Glottiphyllum pygmaeum is a low succulent of southern South Africa.  It may be just a dwarf version of G. nelii.  Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix. Click to see big picture (764x600 pixels; 231 KB)
Lithops bromfieldii is from a genus known as the Living Stones.  This species has four varieties, some with white flowers.  Jardin Real, Madrid. Click to see big picture (800x586 pixels; 203 KB)
Malephora crassa originates on the southern rim of Africa.  It is a plant which begins erect, but then lays over to form mats.  Also known as Hymenocyclus crassus  KEW Gardens, London. Click to see big picture (686x600 pixels; 118 KB)
Malephora crocea has become quite popular in garden circle under names such as Copper Ice Plant and Coppery Mesemb.  It has proved invasive in California.  KEW again. Click to see big picture (647x600 pixels; 121 KB)
From the rocky hills of South Africa, Ruschia pulvinaris has been planted widely in rock gardens, in this case at University of B.C. in Vancouver.  It has acquired names such as Congested Iceplant and Creeping Shrubby Iceplant. Click to see big picture (506x600 pixels; 124 KB)

The Convolvulaceae Family is generally named for the Morning Glories, but also fields some major weeds such a bindweed, not to mention the Sweet Potato.

 

 
Ipomoea cairica is named for Cairo, but is basically an invasive vine from Africa that is now widespread.  It is one of a few species known as the Mile-a-Minute Vine.  Somewhat ornamental, but basically a super weed. Click to see big picture (725x600 pixels; 143 KB)
Astripomoea hyoscyamoides is an east african species which really has not traveled far, and is here a roadside weed near Dodoma Tanzania. Click to see big picture (667x600 pixels; 154 KB)
A full few of Astripomoea hyoscyamoides shows that it is not a typical morning glory vine, but a shrub. Click to see big picture (501x600 pixels; 125 KB)
I can't seem to find a common name for Hewittia malabarica, but it has become widespread in Asia, Africa and Polynesia. In part this is because of its edible leaves, folk medicine applications and use as a fiber.  Photo of weed east of Dodoma, Tanzania. Click to see big picture (800x473 pixels; 117 KB)
Here is a strange one.  This has the flower and distinctive leaves of Ipomoea spathulata.  But what those green discs are, is a complete mystery.  From east of Dodoma, Tanzania. Click to see big picture (800x562 pixels; 167 KB)

The Coffee Family, Rubiaceae, is a large but mainly Neotropical one.  There are several exceptions in Africa, however.

 

 
Pseudomussaenda flava is native to northeastern Africa, but it has traveled far, entering the garden circuit as White Wings or as Flag Bush. Here at the botanical gardens in Denver.  The white structures are specialized leaves. Click to see big picture (619x600 pixels; 105 KB)
Spermacoce dibrachiata is native to the central latitudes of Africa, and is a common weed here in southern Tanzania.  The general name for this genus is Buttonweed. Click to see big picture (514x600 pixels; 132 KB)
From the same area, this is a white-flowered buttonweed, likely Spermacoce subvulgata, or something close to it. Click to see big picture (496x600 pixels; 100 KB)
From near Mbinga, Tanzania this is an unidentified Buttonweed or False Buttonweed. Click to see big picture (800x593 pixels; 121 KB)
Impatiens irvingii is a variable species of swampy ground in tropical Africa.  This one is blooming near the town of Liparamba in southern Tanzania.  It has edible leaves and medicinal applications.  We are now in the Balsaminaceae Family which is basically the Impatiens genus. Click to see big picture (458x600 pixels; 81 KB)
Impatiens walleriana is a child of eastern Africa, but through widespread planting and an invasive habit, it is now pantropical.  Photo from Hawaii. Click to see big picture (749x600 pixels; 160 KB)
Impatiens mackeyana is an exotic species of west Africa. Also known as I.Claeri.  San Francisco Conservatory. Click to see big picture (697x600 pixels; 102 KB)
An unusual example of the Balsaminaceae, this is the Congo Cockatoo Plant (Impatiens dichroa), which is native to tropical Africa, but is now met mainly in tropical gardens, in this case the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver. Click to see big picture (742x600 pixels; 122 KB)
The Amaranthaceae is largely a family of ugly weeds, but it does include some ancient grains known as Amaranth, and here is Amaranthus hybridus, a Pigweed of Central America in a field in southernmost Tanzania. Click to see big picture (640x600 pixels; 218 KB)
Heliotropium steudneri is also known as H. nelsonii. It is in a bit of a taxonomic vacuum at the moment. Some would place it with the Borage family, and some give it a family of its own, Heliotropiaceae. Far from this problem, it is a species of eastern and southern Africa, with medicinal properties, here in northern Tanzania. Click to see big picture (716x600 pixels; 118 KB)
Cotyledon ladismithensis may well be a subspecies of C. tomentosa. By whatever latin, this is the Cub's Paw succulent, native to South Africa, and here at the KEW Gardens in London.  Crassulaceae. Click to see big picture (800x537 pixels; 156 KB)
Going by names such as the African Portea and the Sugar Bush, Protea gaguedi is a feature of sub -saharan Africa. It is here blooming near Liparamba in southern Tanzania.  Proteaceae. Click to see big picture (698x600 pixels; 164 KB)
Erica arborea translates directly into its English name of Tree Heather. It is native to eastern Africa, but its range also extends into the Mediterranean Basin. KEW Gardens, London. Click to see big picture (579x600 pixels; 135 KB)
This weed from near Dodoma in Tanzania looks a lot like a purple, thin-leaved poppy, but I do not have an identification. Click to see big picture (625x600 pixels; 217 KB)