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close this bookKenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas (National Museum of Kenya, 1994, 762 p.)
View the documentAnnonaceae - Soursop family
View the documentMonimiaceae - Lemonwood family
View the documentLauraceae - Avocado family
View the documentHernandiaceae
View the documentRanunculaceae - Buttercup family
View the documentBerberidaceae - Berberis family
View the documentMenispermaceae - Curare family
View the documentAristolochiaceae
View the documentPiperaceae - Pepper family
View the documentTurneraceae
View the documentCapparaceae (Capparidaceae) - Caper family
View the documentMoringaceae - Moringa family
View the documentViolaceae - Violet family
View the documentPolygalaceae
View the documentCrassulaceae
View the documentPortulacaceae
View the documentPolygonaceae - Sorrel family
View the documentPhytolaccaceae
View the documentChenopodiaceae
View the documentAmaranthaceae
View the documentBalsaminaceae - Balsam family
View the documentLythraceae - Henna family
View the documentSonneratiaceae
View the documentOliniaceae
View the documentOnagraceae - Fuchsia family
View the documentThymelaeaceae
View the documentNyctaginaceae - Bougainvillea family
View the documentProteaceae - Protea family
View the documentDilleniaceae
View the documentPittosporaceae
View the documentFlacourtiaceae (incl. Samydaceae) - Kei-apple family
View the documentCanellaceae - Cinnamon family
View the documentTamariceae - Tamarisk family
View the documentPassifloraceae - Passionflower family
View the documentCucurbitaceae - Cucumber family
View the documentBegoniaceae - Begonia family
View the documentCaricaceae - Papaya family
View the documentOchnaceae - Ochna family
View the documentAncistrocladaceae
View the documentMyrtaceae - Eucalypt/clove family
View the documentLecythidaceae
View the documentMelastomataceae
View the documentCombretaceae - Combretum family
View the documentRhizophoraceae - Mangrove family
View the documentGuttiferae (including Hypericaceae) - Garcinia family
View the documentTiliaceae - Jute family
View the documentSterculiaceae - Cola family
View the documentBombacaceae - Baobab family
View the documentMalvaceae - Cotton family
View the documentMalphigiaceae
View the documentEyrthroxylaceae - Coca family
View the documentLinaceae - Flax family
View the documentEuphorbiaceae - Rubber, Cassava, Castor oil family
View the documentMontiniaceae
View the documentRosaceae - Rose family
View the documentChrysobalanceae
View the documentDichapetalaceae (including Chailletiaceae)
View the documentCaesalpiniaceae - Cassia family
View the documentMimosaceae - Mimosa family
View the documentPapilionaceae - Pea family
View the documentHamamelidiceae
View the documentBuxaceae - Box family
View the documentSalicaceae -Willow family
View the documentMyricaceae
View the documentCasuarinaceae - Casuarina family
View the documentUlmaceae
View the documentMoraceae - Fig family
View the documentUrticaceae - Stinging nettle family
View the documentAquifoliaceae - Holly family
View the documentCelastraceae - Miraa family
View the documentIcacinaceae
View the documentSalvadoraceae - Mswaki family
View the documentOlacaceae - Sour plum family
View the documentOpiliaceae
View the documentLoranthaceae - Mistletoe family
View the documentSantalaceae - Sandalwood family
View the documentRhamnaceae - Buffalo thorn family
View the documentVitaceae - Grapevine family
View the documentRutaceae - Citrus family
View the documentSimaroubaceae
View the documentBalanitaceae - Desert date family
View the documentBurseraceae - Myrrh family
View the documentMeliaceae - Mahogany family
View the documentSapindaceae - Mkaapwani family
View the documentMelianthaceae
View the documentAnacardiaceae - Mango family
View the documentConnaraceae
View the documentCornaceae - Dogwood family
View the documentAlangiaceae
View the documentAraliaceae - Mutati family
View the documentUmbelliferae - Carrot family
View the documentEricaceae - Heather family
View the documentEbenaceae - Ebony family
View the documentSapotaceae - Shea butter family
View the documentMyrsinaceae - Rapanea family
View the documentLoganiaceae - Strychnos family
View the documentOleaceae - Olive family
View the documentApocynaceae - Lmuria family
View the documentAsclepiadaceae - Milkweed family
View the documentRubiaceae - Coffee family
View the documentCompositae - Sunflower family
View the documentLobeliaceae
View the documentGoodeniaceae
View the documentBoraginaceae - Cordia family
View the documentSolanaceae - Potato family
View the documentConvolvulaceae - Sweet potato family
View the documentScrophulariaceae - Witchweed family
View the documentBignoniaceae - Flame tree family
View the documentPedaliaceae - Sesame family
View the documentAcanthaceae - Sarim family
View the documentVerbenaceae - Teak family
View the documentCyclocheilaceae
View the documentLabiatae/Lamiaceae - Mint, basil family

Euphorbiaceae - Rubber, Cassava, Castor oil family

A very variable family. Plants monoecious or dioecious. Stipules present, but may be quickly caducous. Inflorescence very variable; flowers unisexual, usually small; calyx of 3-6 lobes or sepals; petals often absent; disk often present. Stamens 3-many. Ovary superior, usually 3-celled; styles usually 3. Fruit often 3-lobed.

1. Leaves compound 2

* Leaves simple (occasionally palmately lobed) or absent 3

2. Hairs simple 29. Oldfieldia

* Hairs stellate 32. Ricinodendron

3. Leaves opposite 4

* Leaves alternate or in bunches, or absent 5

4. Plants with latex; petioles of opposite leaves of equal length 15. Excoecaria

* Latex absent; petioles of opposite leaves quite unequal 22. Mallotus

5. Leaves deeply lobed 6

* Leaves not, or only shallowly, lobed, or absent 8

6. Leafbase peltate 33. Ricinus

* Leafbase not peltate (or rarely so in 21. Macaranga) 7

7. Shrubs or small trees of dry habitats 20. Jatropha

* Large tree of moist forest 21. Macaranga

8. Plants succulent, cactus-like 14. Euphorbia

* Plants not cactus-like (slightly fleshy in 38. Synadenium) 9

9. Plants spiny 10

* Plants not spiny 18

10. Branches ending in a spine 11

* Spines on trunk, or at nodes of branches 12

11. Leaves 4-8cm long, with rounded base 1. Acalypha echinus

* Leaves 1-4cm long, with cuneate base 14. Euphorbia

12. Spines on trunk and older branches only 13

* Spines on young branches 15

13. Leafbase cordate 21. Macaranga

* Leafbase cuneate 14

14. Leaf margin often shallowly toothed; bark rough, flaking 6. Bridelia micrantha

* Leaf margin entire; bark soft and thick 23. Margaritaria

15. Spines small, clustered in small cushions from which leafy branches arise 30. Phyllanthus

* Spines in pairs at nodes 16

16. Latex present 20. Jatropha

* Latex absent 17

17. Leaves only on short, specialized side twigs; moist forest 30. Phyllanthus

* Leaves not confined to short twigs; moderately dry habitats 13. Erythrococca

18. Star hairs or scales present on leaves, young branches and inflorescence 19

* Star hairs or scales absent 25

19. Leaves scaly beneath 11. Croton

* Leaves with stellate hairs (at least near base of midrib beneath) 20

20. Leaves as broad as long 21

* Leaves longer than wide 22

21. Petiole 0.5-2.5cm; dry bushland 17. Givotia

* Petiole 5-20cm; forest 27. Neoboutonia

22. Inflorescences terminal 23

* Inflorescences axillary, or on old wood 24

23. Top of petiole often with 2 glands; stipules simple 11. Croton

* Petiole without glands; stipules divided 8. Cephalocroton

24. Inflorescences on old wood; western 2. Alchornea

* Inflorescences axillary; coastal 26. Mildbraedia

25. Top of petiole with stipels or large glands 26

* No stipels or glands near petiole apex (Erythrococca occasionally has small glands) 28

26. Leaves sparsely pubescent or glabrous; moist Camphorwood forest of Central Kenya 25. Micrococca

* Leaves glabrous; coastal forest, or drier sites 27

27. Leaf margin entire 5. Aristogeitonia

* Leaf margin toothed 36. Spirostachys

28. Plants with latex 29

* Latex absent, or presence/absence unknown 33

29. Leaves somewhat fleshy 38. Synadenium

* Leaves not fleshy 30

30. Flowers in cyathea, surrounded by glands 14. Euphorbia

E. bussei

* Flowers not surrounded by glands, not in cyathea 31

31. Leafbase cordate 20. Jatropha

* Leafbase cuneate 32

32. Inland tree (above 1000m); fruit bristly 34. Sapium

* Coastal tree (Kiunga area); fruit not bristly 15. Excoecaria

33. Inflorescence a cyathium, surrounded by glands (see illustration at 30) 34

* Inflorescence of normal flowers 35

34. Leaves fleshy 38. Synadenium

* Leaves not fleshy 14. Euphorbia

35. Inflorescence on old wood 36

* Inflorescence from among the leaves 39

36. Inflorescence a spike or panicle 37

* Inflorescence a fascicle 38

37. Leaf-margin toothed, leaf apex acuminate 2. Alchornea

* Leaf-margin entire, leaf apex obtuse 19. Hymenocardia

38. Leaf apex bluntly acuminate; leaves 7-20 by 2.5-8.5cm 12. Drypetes

* Leaf apex rounded; leaves 1.5-3 by 0.7-2cm 30. Phyllanthus pinnatus

39. Leaves gland-dotted beneath 40

* Leaves not gland-dotted 42

40. Leaf apex sharply acuminate; moist forest 21. Macaranga

* Leaf apex obtuse or bluntly acuminate; drier habitats 41

41. Leaves ovate; flowers yellow-green; fruit 2 by 3mm 1. Acalypha

* Leaves elliptic-obovate; flowers white; fruit 20-40 by 30-40mm 31. Pycnocoma

42. Flowers with sepals and petals 43

* Flowers with sepals only 49

43. Flowers in axillary fascicles/dense bunches without a common stalk 44

* Flowers in stalked racemes/spikes/corymbs 47

44. Sepals overlapping (imbricate) in bud 45

* Sepals valvate in bud 6. Bridelia

45. Upland plants; leaves 2-15 by 1-12cm 46

* Coastal plants; leaves 3-7 by 1-4cm 35. Savia

46. Shrubs to 6m; leaf apex obtuse or acute 10. Clutia

* Trees 6-30m; leaf apex acuminate 18. Heywoodia

47. Inflorescence axillary 48

* Inflorescence terminal; coastal 71

48. Leaves broadly ovate, 5-9-nerved from the cordate base 20. Jatropha

* Leaves elliptic-ovate, at most 3-nerved from the base 9. Cleistanthus

49. Flowers solitary, or in axillary fascicles/dense bunches or glomerules 50

* Flowers in elongated inflorescences, or in leaf-opposed (stalked) cymes 59

50. Leaf margin toothed 51

* Leaf margin entire 52

51. Flowers in fascicles 12. Drypetes


* Flowers in dense glomerules 13. Erythrococca

52. Sepals less than 3mm long 53

* Sepals 6-13 by 5-10mm; Taita Hills 40. Zimmermannia

53. Leaves sandpapery-pubescent beneath; shrub of bush/woodland 13. Erythrococca

* Leaves glabrous (if slightly pubescent, then forest tree) 54

54. Leafbase asymmetrical 12. Drypetes

* Leafbase symmetrical 55

55. Male flowers with entire, ringshaped disk; leaves usually larger than 5 by 3cm, usually with acuminate apex 56


* Male flowers with disk of separate glands; leaves usually smaller than 6 by 3.5cm, usually with rounded or obtuse apex 58

56. Trees 57

* Shrubs; flower stalks long and slender; stamens 5 24. Meineckia

57. Male flowers with central disk; female flowers with very short styles 12. Drypetes


* Male flowers with disk near the sepals; female flowers with styles 1-2mm long 23. Margaritaria

58. Sepals unequal; male flowers with pistillode (remnant female part) 16. Flueggia

* Sepals subequal; male flowers without pistillode 30. Phyllanthus

59. Leaf margin toothed 60

* Leaf margin entire 66

60. Inflorescence a leaf-opposed cyme 37. Suregada

* Inflorescence terminal or axillary 61

61. Leaf margin with glandular teeth 2. Alchornea

* Teeth not glandular 62

62. Tree over 4m high; inflorescence a terminal spike 63

* Shrubs; if small trees, then flowers in axillary spikes 64

63. Coastal species (Kiunga area) 15. Excoecaria

* Inland species, found above 1000m alt. 34. Sapium

64. Leaves 10-40cm long; petiole 2-4mm thick 4. Argomuellera

* Leaves less than 15cm long; petiole less than 1.5mm thick 65

65. Buds scaly 13. Erythrococca

* Buds not scaly 25. Micrococa

66. Leaves scabridulous-pubescent beneath; leaves in bunches on older twigs and spaced on young twigs 13. Erythrococca

* Leaves glabrous or pubescent, but not scabridulous; leaves spaced 67

67. Leaves 1-3 by 0.7-2cm; tiny prickles present at base of branchlet 30. Phyllanthus

* Leaves usually larger; prickles absent 68

68. Inflorescence a leaf-opposed cyme; leaves glabrous 37. Suregada

* Inflorescence an axillary or terminal raceme or spike 69

69. Shrubs of coastal limestone outcrops; inflorescences axillary; fruit green, 3-lobed, 3.5-10mm across 70

* Trees or shrubs with wider distribution; inflorescences axillary or terminal; fruit red or black, round, 3-5mm across 3. Antidesma

70. Petiole 2-11 mm; male inflorescence to 19cm long; ovary cells with 1 ovule 25. Micrococca

* Petiole 4-5mm; male inflorescence 2-6.5cm long; ovary cells with 2 ovules 39. Thecacoris

71. Flowers yellow; petals 7-10mm long; fruit 15 by 30mm 7. Cavacoa

* Flowers white; petals 2mm long; fruit 4 by 5mm 28. Neoholstia


Leaves alternate, serrate, stipulate. Male flowers very small, in groups with small bracts. Female flowers with a large bract, 1-3 together. Stamens 8; petals absent. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule, splitting into three 2-valved carpels.

1. Male and female flowers in the same inflorescence 2

* Male and female flowers in separate inflorescences 4

2. Male flowers below the female flowers 5

* Male flowers above the female flowers 3

3. Leaves widest at, or above the middle 4. A. neptunica

* Leaves widest below the middle 3. A. fruticosa

4. Female flowers in terminal (branched) panicles 6. A. racemosa

* Female flowers in terminal spikes 5. A. ornata

5. Female flowers stalked; ovary glabrous 1. A. echinus

* Female flowers (sub) sessile; ovary pubescent 2. A. engleri

1. Acalypha echinus Pax & K. Hoffm.

Straggling shrub to 4m. Older branches resembling spines. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base rounded, apex obtuse, 4-8 by 2-4.5cm, glabrous but for midrib and domatia. Flowers in racemes. Fruit 2.5 by 4mm.

K7; collected at Mwachi, Vitengeni, Marafa, Boni and lower Tana R. in riverine forest, 1-150m.

2. Acalypha engleri Pax

Shrub to 3m. Leaves elliptic or ovate, base cuneate to rounded, apex acute or bluntly acuminate, margins serrate, 7-14 by 4-8.5cm, slightly pubescent. Flowers white or greenish, in solitary spikes. Fruit 2.2 by 4mm.

K7; 80-500m;?*

Forest (margins): Shimba Hills.

3. Acalypha fruticosa Forssk.

(incl. Acalypha sp. A of UKWF)

Shrub 1-3.5m. Leaves (except in var. eglandulosa) giving off a resinous smell when crushed; ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex obtuse or bluntly acuminate, margins crenate, 1-8(10) by 0.6-5(6)cm, almost glabrous or pubescent. Flowers yellow-green, tinged with red, in spikes. Fruit 2 by 3mm.

K1234567; 1-1750m; I-XII

Riverine forest or woodland (and then often locally abundant), or dry bushland on alluvial or very rocky soil; near the sea in bushland or thicket; rarely in forest away from water; also on overgrazed land, usually in shade.

Mchacha (SWA, GIR), (Mu) Kukua (KAM), Ossiaitiado (MAA), Kaparsamogh (PKT), Siati (SAM), (S)izi (TAI), Loguru/Segoya (TUG), Eteteleit (TUR). Wood ash is put on wounds by the Turkana; Pokot use the twigs for toothbrushes.

Note. Radcliffe-Smith in FTEA distinguishes 3 varieties: var. fruticosa, var. villosa (especially hairy on the leaf veins) and var. eglandulosa (without glands).

Acalypha fruticosa

Acalypha fruticosa

4. Acalypha neptunica Müll. Arg.

Shrub or tree 1-4m. Leaves elliptic or obovate, base cuneate to subcordate, apex obtuse or (bluntly) acuminate, margin crenate or serrate, 6-18 by 3-9cm, glabrous or pubescent. Flowers greenish or cream, in axillary spikes. Fruit about 3 by 5mm.

K34567; 1-1800m; I-XII (XI)

(Riverine) forest; on the coast also in crevices on limestone outcrops.

Plants with densely hairy stems are regarded by Radcliffe-Smith as var. pubescens (Pax) Hutch.

Muwewa (SWA), Keturirit (KIP).

Acalypha neptunica

5. Acalypha ornata A. Rich.

Woody herb or shrub 1-3m. Leaves ovate, base rounded or subcordate, apex acuminate, margins serrate, 5-16 by 3-11 cm, sparsely hairy on midrib and veins. Female spikes red, terminal; male spikes cream, axillary. Fruit about 3 by 4mm.

K24567; 1-450m (coast) and 1350-1800m (inland); I-IV, VI-IX, XI (III)

Moist forest or riverine vegetation.

Acalypha ornata

6. Acalypha racemosa Baill.

Shrub or woody herb, 30cm to 2.5m. Leaves ovate, base broadly cuneate to subcordate, apex acuminate, margin crenate or serrate, 1-10 by 0.5-6cm, sparsely hairy. Flowers in greenish or reddish spikes (male, axillary) or panicles (female, terminal). Fruit about 1.5 by 2mm.

K13567; 50-2100m; I-XII

Forest or riverine.

Mukulwa (KAM).

Acalypha racemosa


Usually dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate, usually long-petiolate. Flowers in spikes or panicles, minute; petals absent.

1. Leaves with cordate base 1. A. cordifolia

* Leaves with rounded to attenuate base 2

2. Leaves at base with 2 thread-like stipules 3. A. laxiflora

* Leaves without stipules at the base 2. A. hirtella

1. Alchornea cordifolia (Schum. & Thonn.) Müll. Arg.

Shrub or tree 4-8m. Leaves with long petioles, ovate, base cordate (the basal lobes slightly overlapping), apex acuminate, margins crenate-serrate, 10-25 by 7-15cm, very sparsely stellate-hairy (mainly in axils of veins). Flowers greenish or cream, dioecious, minute, the males in long panicles, the females in long panicles or spikes, always from old wood below the leaves. Fruit reddish, usually 2-lobed, about 15mm across.

K5; 1250-1450m; II, X*

Moist riverine forest on the lower Yala R. Last collected in 1961.

A favourite food of the sitatunga.

2. Alchornea hirtella Benth.

Shrub or tree (rarely scrambling) 2.5-6m. Leaves elliptic or slightly obovate, base attenuate to obtuse, apex shortly acuminate, margins glandular-crenate, 7-18 by 2.5-5cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers monoecious or dioecious, in long, reddish-purple terminal or lateral panicles (male) or spikes (female). Fruit about 5 by 9mm, 3-lobed.

K45; 1850-2100m; II-III, VII, XII *

Moist forest (S. Mt Kenya and SW Mau forests)

Ruano, Muruanwe (KIK).

Alchornea hirtella

3. Alchornea laxiflora (Benth.) Pax & K. Hoffm.

Shrub or tree 1-7m, sometimes scandent. Leaves elliptic or slightly obovate, base cordate or broadly cuneate with 2 stipels to 3mm long, apex acuminate, margin glandular-crenate, 7-18 by 3-7cm, glabrous or nearly so (domatia sometimes present). Flowers yellow-green, functionally dioecious, in lax axillary spikes on older wood (male) or lax terminal spikes (female). Fruit 5-7 by 7-8mm, 3-lobed.

K57; 1-400m (coast) and 1550-1650m (Kakamega); I-IV*

Moist or dry forest.

Munza Jembe (DIG), Manamulira, Mutsutsu (LUH).

Alchornea laxiflora

Alchornea laxiflora


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate. Calyx cupular, 3-8-toothed; petals absent. Fruit a drupe.

Antidesma venosum Tul.

(incl. A. membranaceum sensu FTEA, A. vogelianum sensu FTEA)

Shrub or tree 2-9m. Leaves elliptic, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse to acuminate, 3-15 by 2-7cm, fulvous-tomentose to hairy on veins only. Flowers yellow-green, in axillary or terminal (branched), often hanging spikes; these are often galled. Fruit red to black, globose, 4-9mm.

K457; 1-2100m; I-II, V-VI, VIII, X-XII (I)

Wooded grassland, secondary bushland at forest edge, riverine forest, moist forest.

Msazizi, Mziwaziwa (SWA), Mulilago (BON), Mdzengatsongo (DIG), Musigisigi (ILW), Mukala (KAM), Oguombula (LUO), Muthithio (EMB). The fruit is edible; Kamba use an infusion of the seed for liver complaints.

Note. 3 former species are lumped here, at least for Kenya. None of the characters separating these taxa holds true, including those of FTEA. I am grateful to Q. Luke for his investigations into this taxon.

Antidesma venosum

Antidesma venossum


Monoecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate. Inflorescence an axillary spike-like raceme, with the male flowers in clusters (occasionally with a single female flower) or with all-male or all-female clusters. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule.

1. Coastal species at low (< 400m) altitudes 1. A. sp. nov.

* Inland species, found above 500m 2. A. macrophylla

1. Argomuellera sp. nov. Q. Luke ined. VULNERABLE

Shrub 2-4m. Rather like A. macrophylla, but with shorter petioles (2-5mm long instead of 5-10mm) and almost glabrous leaves. Flowers with much shorter pedicels (1mm instead of 5-6mm).

Pangani (Luke & Robertson 193) and Jaribuni, on limestone: 50-150m.

2. Argomuellera macrophylla Pax

Shrub or tree 1-7.5m, evergreen. Leaves elliptic, base attenuate, apex acuminate, margin serrate, 10-40 by 3.5-12cm, sparsely or densely pubescent beneath. Flowers white and orange, in long axillary racemes. Fruit about 7 by 13mm.

K1467; 750-1800m; III, V, VIII, X *

(Riverine) forest.

Muthata (KAM).

Argomuellera macrophylla

Argomuellera macrophylla


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, with stipules on the petiole. Flowers fasciculate on old wood. Fruit a 3-lobed capsule.

Aristogeitonia monophylla Airy Shaw VULNERABLE

Shrub or tree 2-9m. Leaves elliptic, base rounded or cuneate, apex bluntly acuminate, margins entire but undulate, 6-32 by 2-12.5cm, glabrous; petioles long and more or less pulvinate at both ends. Flowers pale yellow, fasciculate on old wood, to 2mm. Fruit 10 by 12mm.

K7; 1-250m; II, IV, VIII, XI-XII *

Forest or thicket on coral or limestone (Cha Shimba, Mwarakaya, Pangani, Kilifi, Gongoni) and Cynometra forest (Sokoke).

Aristogeitonia monophylla


Monoecious or dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate. Flowers in dense axillary glomerules, tiny. Petals 5. Fruit a drupe or berry.

1. Leaf apex acuminate; leaves glabrous (except for midrib); moist coastal forest 1. B. atroviridis

* Leaf apex obtuse to subacute, or, if shortly acuminate, the leaves puberulous 2

2. Leaves with tertiary veins very clear and prominent beneath 3

* Leaves with tertiary veins not or only slightly prominent beneath 4

3. Coastal species (alt. 1-450m); forest margins, thicket, or bushland 2. B. cathartica

* Inland species (alt. 900-1650m); woodland or wooded grassland 4. B. sceleroneura

4. Fruit 1 -celled; shrub or tree 2-18m, often thorny; leaves puberulous, elliptic 3. B. micrantha

* Fruit 2-celled; shrub or tree 1-4.5m, without thorns; leaves more or less pubescent, obovate or broadly elliptic 5. B. taitensis

1. Bridelia atroviridis Müll. Arg.

Shrub or tree 2-12m. Leaves elliptic, base broadly cuneate to subcordate, apex acuminate, 6-19 by 3-9cm, glabrous except for the midrib. Flowers (greenish-) pink or red, in dense axillary clusters. Fruit green to black, obovoid, 6-8 by 5-6mm.

K7; 50-400m; - *

Moist forest (Shimba Hills and Mrima).

2. Bridelia cathartica Bertol.f.

Shrub, tree or climber 0.5-7m; bark greybrown, fissured. Leaves elliptic to obovate, base cuneate to rounded, apex obtuse or subacute, margin shallowly crenate (rarely subentire), 3-8 by 1-4cm, glabrous or pubescent beneath. Flowers yellow-green, in very dense axillary clusters. Fruit purple or black, round or nearly so, 6-11mm.

K7; 1-450m; IV-VIII, XI (V-VI)

Forest margins, (secondary) bushland, littoral thicket.

Mnembe-Nembe (SWA), Abubeu (BON), Karro (BOR), Mkalakala (GIR), Muandi (KAM). The fruit is edible.

Bridelia cathartica

3. Bridelia micrantha (Hochst.) Baill.

Shrub or tree 2-18m; bark grey or blackish, flaking and rough. Trunk and branches often with scattered woody thorns. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex obtuse or shortly acuminate, margins shallowly crenate or subentire, 6-18.5 by 2.5-6cm, more or less puberulous. Flowers yellow-green, in dense axillary clusters. Fruit purple-black, ellipsoid with a pointed apex, 8-10 by 5-6mm.

K134567; 1-1950m; I-II, V, IX, XI-XII (XI-XII)

Usually riverine or in forest margins; less often in bushed or wooded grassland.

Jajab (BOR), Mdudu (DIG), Mukoigo (KIK), Kuomo-Mutereriet (KIP), Omutarakaranga (KIS), Culdet (LUM), Athuno (LUO), Shikanganya, Kumulonda-Ng’ombe (LUH), Olleragia (MAA), Mikwegwe, Mukuengwe (MER), Ngorouet (NAN), Lapironit (SAM). The wood is used for building poles and is termite-resistant. A bark decoction is employed by the Maasai against dysentery in children.

Bridelia micrantha

4. Bridelia scleroneura Müll. Arg.

Shrub or tree 2-6m; bark grey, fissured. Leaves elliptic or slightly obovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex obtuse or subacute, margin shallowly crenate or subentire, 3-12 by 2-8cm, more or less puberulous beneath. Flowers yellow-green, in dense axillary clusters. Fruit purple-red to blue-black, round, 6-8mm.

K245; 900-1650m; III, VI-VIII, XII *

Wooded grassland or woodland (often with Combretum)

Kapturesut (KIP). The fruit is edible.

Bridelia scleroneura

5. Bridelia taitensis Vatke & Pax

Shrub or tree 1.5-4.5m. Leaves obovate or broadly elliptic, base (broadly) cuneate, apex obtuse to retuse, margins entire or nearly so, 3-7 by 2-6cm, sparsely pubescent beneath. Flowers yellow-green, in dense axillary clusters. Fruit red to purplish to black, rounded or ellipsoid, 7-9mm long.

K1467; 400-1200m; II-III, V-VII, XII. Endemic to Kenya.

Woodland, wooded grassland or dry bushland, especially on rocky hills; below 900m usually in riverine thickets.

Karro (BOR), Muandi (KAM), Lapironit (SAM). The fruit is edible.

Bridelia taitensis

Bridelia taitensis


Dioecious. Inflorescence a terminal raceme.

Cavacoa aurea (Cavaco) J. Léon.

Shrub or tree to 10m. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate to obtuse, apex shortly acuminate, 4-11 by 1.7-5.5cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers yellow, in few-flowered racemes to 5cm long; petals 7-10mm long. Fruit 3-5-lobed, 1.5cm long, 3cm across.

K7; 1-450m; in forest; known from Ribe, Jibana, Kambe, Dzombo, Gongoni and Muhaka.

Cavacoa aurea


Cephalocroton cordofanus Hochst.

[incl. C. nudus Pax & K. Hoffm., C. scabridus Pax & K. Hoffm., C. velutinus Pax & K. Hoffm.]

Shrub 0.2-2.5m, occasionally scandent to 3m. Leaves alternate, ovate, base rounded or subcordate, apex obtuse or acute, margin dentate-serrate, 2-7 by 1-5cm, more or less stellate-pubescent with some stalked glands to almost glabrous. Flowers monoecious, white or yellow, in dense terminal stalked globular heads of male flowers, with a few female flowers at the base; flowers about 2mm. Fruit 3-lobed, about 8 by 12mm.

K1467; 1-1200m; I-V, VIII, XI-XII (XI-XII)

Wooded or bushed grassland, dry bushland; often on black cotton soil or in seasonally wet grassland along luggas.

Kosaiye (ILW), Kosaie-rea (ORM), Kosaiye-iriad (SOM).

Cephalocroton cordofanus

Cephalocroton cordofanus


Monoecious. Leaves alternate; inflorescence axillary; petals 5.

1. Leaves obtuse or emarginate; coast 2. C. schlechteri

* Leaves acuminate; Central Kenya 1. C. polystachyus

NOTE: recently a new species has been found (Luke & Robertson 1934) at Pangani rocks. It is a tree of 12m resembling the Zairese C. michelsonii, but differs in the long inflorescence-rachis, to 10cm long.

1. Cleistanthus polystachyus Planch.

Shrub or tree 3-18m, the ultimate branches pendulous; trunk fluted; bark flaking. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate, 4-16 by 1-6cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers yellow-green, in racemes; sepals 5-6mm long. Fruit 3-lobed, 9-12 by 11-13mm.

K4; collected once at Garuweni, NW of Sagana at about 1200m.

Riverine forest.

2. Cleistanthus schlechteri (Pax) Hutch.

(C. holtzii Pax)

Shrub or tree 3-23m; bark grey, fissured. Leaves elliptic or ovate, base rounded or shallowly cordate, apex obtuse or emarginate, 3-9 by 1-4cm, glabrous but for the midrib. Flowers yellow-green, in short racemes; sepals 4-6mm long. Fruit 3-lobed, 7-8 by 9-13mm.

K7; collected in 1929 near Kwale and in 1987-1990 at Gotani, Mwagongo, Mwena, Mwachi; 1-300m.

Riverine or in dry forest.

Mtazi (SWA).

Cleistanthus schlechteri


Usually dioecious. Leaves alternate. Stipules small or absent. Inflorescences axillary, fasciculate; petals 5. Fruit a round capsule, splitting into 3.

1. Fruit stalk less than 5mm long; male petals with 2 glands at base 2. C. robusta

* Fruit stalk more than 10mm long; male petals with 1 gland at base 1. C. abyssinica

1. Clutia abyssinica Jaub. & Spach

[C. pedicellaris (Pax.) Hutch., C. richardiana Müll. Arg., C. mollis Pax]

Shrub 1-3m, rarely to 6m. Leaves (turning orange when drying) ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex obtuse or acute, 2-10 by 1-5cm, glabrous to densely pubescent. Flowers yellow-green or greenish cream, in few-flowered fascicles; sepals 2-2.5mm long. Fruit green, turning red, 4.5-5.5mm across.

K1234567; (300-350) 1600-3100m; I-XII

Drier forest types up to the Hagenia zone, forest remnants, secondary bushland; also in wooded grassland and in bushland on rocky hills.

The very hairy plants may be separated as var. usambarica Pax & K. Hoffm.

Mutemavengi (KAM), Muthimamburi (KIK), Kurbanyat (KIP), Olgebarinyei (MAA), Chekelel, Kioswa, Sitab oin (MAR), Mwendinguku (TAI), Kurrukanya (TUG), Echiato (TUR). A root decoction is used by the Maasai against liver pains.

Clutia abyssinica

Clutia abyssinica

Clutia abyssinica

2. Clutia robusta Pax

[C. kilimandscharica Engl.]

Very much like C. abyssinica except for the keyed characters; also the leaves are generally more narrow and to 16cm long.

K3456(7?); 1800-3300m; I-XII

Dry upland forest, bamboo and Hagenia zone, heath zone; especially in forest margins and -clearings.

The record from K7 (Kasigau, Joana B 8801) is suspect.

Local names as for C. abyssinica. Maasai use the wood for ear plugs, as it is said to heal wounds.

Clutia robusta


Mostly monoecious, often with stellate hairs or scales on the leaves. Leaves alternate or subverticillate, simple, usually with 2 glands at the base of the blade; stipules often present but caducous. Inflorescences mostly terminal, racemose, usually with the female flowers below the males, or unisexual. Male flowers with 4-6 petals, females similar. Fruit a dehiscent capsule, 3-parted.

1. Leaves densely silvery-scaly below; leaf margins entire 2

* Leaves not scaly below; leaf margins (minutely) toothed 8

2. Leaves glabrous above 3

* Leaves stellate-hairy above, at least near the margins (use lens) 4

3. Leaves more or less whorled; and cuneate at base (rarely rounded) 8. C. pseudopulchellus

* Leaves alternate; and rounded or subcordate at base 13. C. zambesicus

4. Leaves stellate-hairy above near margins only 2. C. dichogamus

* Leaves uniformly stellate-hairy 5

5. Petioles 2-5 (-10)mm long 6. C. menyhartii

* Petioles more than 10mm long 6

6. Flowers in 1-3cm long racemes. Fruit less than 1cm long 10. C. somalensis

* Flowers in 6-30cm long racemes. Fruit more than 2cm long 7

7. Leaves with 12-25 lateral nerves. Inland species 5. C. megalocarpus

* Leaves with 6-9 lateral nerves. Coastal species 4. C. megalocarpoides

8. Leaves penninerved, 3-nerved from base; pubescent on midrib only 1. C. alienus

* Leaves 5-7-nerved from base; pubescence evenly distributed 9

9. Fruit more than 2cm long; species at altitudes below 200m 12. C. talaeporos

* Fruit less than 1.1cm long; species at altitudes above 300m (except sometimes C. polytrichus) 10

10. Leaves glabrous or nearly so when mature; marginal and basal glands similar 11. C. sylvaticus

* Leaves stellate-pubescent when mature; marginal and basal glands different 11

11. Petiole 1.5-11cm; racemes 15-32cm long 3. C. macrostachyus

* Petiole less than 5cm; racemes 3-12cm long 12

12. Sepals 1mm wide 7. C. polytrichus

* Sepals 2mm wide, growing to 5mm wide in fruit 9. C. scheffleri

1. Croton alienus Pax RARE, ?VULNERABLE

Shrub or tree 1.2-4.5m, monoecious or dioecious. Young twigs stellate-pubescent. Leaves elliptic or slightly (ob) ovate, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse (acute), margin (faintly) denticulate, 5-13 by 1.5-5.5cm, glabrous except for the stellate-pubescent midrib. Flowers greenish-white or green, in 2-11.5cm long racemes (all male, all female, or mixed) about 2mm long. Fruit dark red or black, trilobed-ellipsoid, about 10 by 8mm.

K45; 1450-1950m; I-III, V, IX-XII

Dry upland evergreen forest or secondary forest, often associated with Brachylaena and Croton megalocarpus.

Musenia (KAM), Muthenia, Nduriri (KIK), Keleluet (TUG).

Note. The record for Kakamega is very remote from all other records; also the habitat seems to be quite different.

Croton alienus

2. Croton dichogamus Pax

Shrub or small tree 1-7m. Leaves silvery beneath, turning orange before dropping, aromatic, elliptic or ovate, base rounded, apex obtuse or acute (acuminate), 2-10 by 1-4cm (20 × 8.5), (sub) glabrous above, silvery-scaly beneath. Flowers yellowish, about 2mm long, monoecious in 2-4(6)cm long racemes, sometimes with male flowers only. Fruit goldenbrown, three-lobed, 6-7 by 5-7mm, scaly.

K1234567; 500-2100m; I-II, IV-VII, IX-XII

Dry bushland, especially on rocky soils or slopes; also in thickets, Acacia-Euphorbia woodland, dry upland forest edges. Very common in places, especially in disturbed sites.

Mokhof (BOR), Mookofe (GAB), Kireru/Mukinduri (KIK), Muthiani (KAM), Kelelwet (KIP), Angin/Rachar (LUO), Ol-logerdangai (MAA, SAM), Mwarula (Mijikenda), Lageridingai (SAM), Gobole (SOM), Kekelwa (TUR, PKT). Used in hut construction; Maasai use the roots to flavour food, and stems in the preparation of mead; Samburu use the plant in stomach medicine.

Croton dichogamus

Croton dichogamus

3. Croton macrostachyus Del.

Tree 3-25m; bark grey or greybrown, finely reticulate. Leaves turning orange before falling, ovate, base (sub) cordate (rounded), apex acuminate, margin crenulate-serrulate or subentire, 5-19 by 3.5-15cm, stellate-hairy but more densely so beneath (and fulvous when young). Flowers yellowish, to 3.5mm long, in 15-32cm long racemes; the flowers in clusters, either all male or all female or mixed, dioecious or monoecious. Fruit grey, trilobed, 8-9 by 8-10mm, stellate-pubescent.

K123456; 1350-2250m; I-VII, IX, XI-XII (IV-VI)

Moist or dry evergreen upland forest (remnants, edges); also riverine forest or woodland, wooded grassland or clump bushland.

Mukanisa (BOR), Kitundu (KAM), Mutundu (KIK, MER), Tebeswet (KIP, NAN, TUG), Ngong’Ngo’ (LUO), Musutsu (LUH), Orkeparlu (MAA), Taboswa, Toboswa (MAR), Mfirifiri (TAI, TAV). The wood is used for making stools or axe handles; roots are used as a remedy for stomach worms by the Maasai, burnt leaves are used by the Luhya as cough remedy, a root decoction is used against malaria by the Kikuyu and leaf juice improves wound clotting.

Croton macrostachyus

Croton macrostachyus

4. Croton megalocarpoides Friis & Gilbert RARE

Shrub or tree to 8m; bark grey and scaly. Leaves silvery beneath, ovate (elliptic), base cordate or sub-truncate, apex (bluntly) acuminate, 3.8-9 by 2-5.5cm, stellate-hairy above, densely scaly beneath. Flowers to 3.3mm long, in up to 19cm long racemes, monoecious. Fruit subglobose, trilobed, 20 by 22-25mm, scaly.

K1/7,7; 1-50m; IV *

Thick wooded deciduous bushland; Kiunga area near Somali border, and possibly at Diani.

5. Croton megalocarpus Hutch.

Tree 6-36m; bole straight, crown flat; bark grey or pale brown, longitudinally fissured. Leaves silvery beneath, ovate or elliptic, base subcordate, rounded or subcuneate, apex acuminate, 5-15 by 2-8cm, stellate-puberulous above, densely scaly beneath. Flowers yellowish, to 5mm long, in 7.5-30cm long racemes, monoecious or dioecious. Fruit obovoid or subglobose, 2-4 by 1.5-3cm, scaly.

K13456; 900-2100m; I, III-V, VII, X-XII *

Dry upland evergreen or semi-deciduous forest, occasionally dominant; also in moist upland forest, dense woodland (especially riverine or near springs) and scattered tree grassland.

Musine (STAND, LUH), Nyapo, Napo (BOR), Nyaap’po (GAB), Muthulu, Kithulu (KAM), Mukinduri (KIK, MER), Ol-mergoit (MAA), Masineitet (NAN), Lameruguet, Marakuet (SAM), Mukigara (TAI), Ortuet (TUG). Used in house building and as firewood; also a hedge plant.

Croton megalocarpus

Croton megalocarpus

6. Croton menyharthii Pax

Shrub 1.2-5m, with several stems and virgate branches. Leaves silvery beneath, turning orange when old, ovate, base rounded or subcordate, apex obtuse or emarginate, 2-7 by 1-3cm, thinly stellate-pubescent above, densely scaly beneath. Flowers yellowish, about 2mm long, monoecious, in 1-3(5)cm long racemes. Fruit yellowish with black spots, trilobed, 6-7 by 7-9mm.

K147; 1-600m; I, III-IV, VII, IX *

Aloe-Sansevieria thickets and bushland varying from Terminalia-Combretum type to dune bushland.

Khobole (BOR, SOM), Miama Wanyika (GIR), Alkadhi (PKM), Cashinaada (SOM). Pokomo inhale the smoke of burnt leaves against pregnancy pains and menstrual pains.

Croton menyharthii

7. Croton polytrichus Pax

Small tree or (semi-scandent) shrub 3-7.5m. Leaves ovate, elliptic or obovate, base rounded or subcordate, apex shortly acuminate (curved to one side), margin minutely glandular-toothed, 5-9 by 3-7cm, densely stellate-tomentose. Flowers yellowish, about 2mm long, monoecious, in up to 12cm long racemes. Fruit brownish, trilobed, about 6 by 6mm.

K67; 1-950m; - *

Bushland: Ngulia, Dzombo Mt, Boni.

8. Croton pseudopulchellus Pax

Shrub or small tree 1-6m; bark rough, brown or pale grey. Leaves subverticillate, silvery beneath, dotted with brown, elliptic, base cuneate or less often rounded, apex obtuse, emarginate or acute, 2.5-8.5 by 1-3.3cm, glabrous above, densely scaly beneath. Flowers white, to 3mm long; monoecious, sometimes dioecious in globular clusters to 1cm across. Fruit silvery-green flecked with brown, trilobed, 6 by 6mm.

K167; 1-1050 (1800)m; I, IV-XI

A common understory shrub of the drier lowland forests or woodlands, e.g. Brachystegia and Brachylaena-Cynometra types; also common in parts of coastal evergreen bushland; also in rocky bushland inland.

Mkunapaa (SWA), Barranad (BON), Mogof (BOR), Msandusi (DUR), Myama, Muyama (GIR), Keirtets (SAN), Xobole (SOM).

Croton pseudopulchellus

9. Croton scheffleri Pax

Shrub 1-3.5m (outside Kenya also reported as a tree to 12m); bark brown, fissured. Leaves broadly ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate, margin serrulate, 3-10 by 2-7cm, densely stellate-pubescent and later sparingly so. Flowers cream or greenish, to 3mm long, monoecious, in 3-10cm long racemes (either all male or with a few female flowers at base). Fruit round to 3-lobed, about 5 by 7mm, stellate-pubescent.

K14; 800-1600m; III-V, XI-XII *

Dry bushland (and there locally common), riverine, in groundwater forest, or in dwarf shrub grassland.

Malula (KAM).

Croton scheffleri

10. Croton somalensis Vatke & Pax

Shrub 1-3m (once reported as slightly scandent). Leaves silvery beneath (sometimes with brown spots), turning orange when old, ovate, base rounded or subcordate, apex obtuse or acute (acuminate), 1.5-7 by 0.8-5cm, thinly stellate-pubescent above, densely scaly beneath; scales resembling flattened star-hairs. Flowers yellowish, about 2mm long, monoecious or dioecious, in up to 1 (3)cm long racemes. Fruit trilobed-subglobose, about 6 by 7mm, scaly.

K16; 400-1250m; V-VI, VIII, XI-XII *

Acacia-Commiphora bushland, often on limestone or lava.

D’irri (BOR, GAB), Olchani-Lorpurkel (MAA). Used in house construction; root decoction used by Maasai as remedy for influenza and malaria.

Croton somalensis

11. Croton sylvaticus Hochst.

Tree 3.5-24m; bark smelling of black pepper, grey, smooth. Leaves (broadly) ovate, base cuneate, rounded, or subcordate, apex acuminate, margin glandular, crenate-serrate, 6-14 by 3-11 cm, densely stellate-pubescent at first, later becoming subglabrous or sparsely pubescent beneath. Flowers greenish-cream, to 3mm long, monoecious, in racemes 10-30cm long (all male, mixed, or all female). Fruit orange or red, trilobed-subglobose or ovoid, 7-11 by 5-10mm, stellate-pubescent.

K34567; 350-1750m; III-IV, VI, XII *

Moist evergreen forest, rarely in dry evergreen forest. Mtsunduzi (DIG), Mutundu (KAM, KIK, MER), Musudu/Munamaliru (LUH). A timber tree; parts are used against malaria.

Croton sylvaticus

12. Croton talaeporos Radc.-Smith

[C. sp. near sylvaticus of KTS]

Shrub or small tree 2-10m; bark grey, fissured. Leaves (broadly) ovate, base rounded or subcordate, apex acuminate or obtuse (emarginate), margin crenate or crenate-serrate, 4-16 by 3-15cm, sparsely stellate-pubescent but later glabrous. Flower white or yellowish, 2-3mm long, monoecious or dioecious, in 8-20cm long racemes (all male or mixed). Fruit red or brown, subglobose or subtrilobed, 20-28 by 22-25mm, stellate-pubescent.

K7; 1-200m; I, III-IV, XII *

Wooded grassland, woodland or bushland of coastal plains. Very common around Kiunga.

Msinduzi (SWA), Kimili (BOR), Keireteta (SAN), Mandrui (BON). Roots are used as a remedy for colds and stomach complaints.

Croton talaeporos

13. Croton zambesicus Müll. Arg.

Tree 4-8m, foliage characteristically stratified; bark smooth or rough, grey. Leaves silvery beneath (occ. brown-flecked), elliptic, base rounded or subcordate, apex acute, obtuse, or shortly acuminate, 5-12 by 1.5-4cm, glabrous above, densely scaly beneath. Flowers yellowish, to 2.5mm long, monoecious or dioecious, in (1.5) 3-6cm long racemes (mixed or occasionally all male). Fruit subtrilobed, about 9 by 10mm, densely scaly.

K2; 750-1600m; II-III, V*

Only collected three times; on shallow rocky soils and by stream-beds.

Elakas (TUR).

Croton zambezicus


Usually dioecious. Leaves alternate, often asymmetrical at base. Flowers in fascicles; petals absent. Fruit a drupe.

1. Coastal species from altitudes below 500m 2

* Inland species from altitudes above 900m 5

2. Leaf margin sharply toothed; flowers on older wood 3

* Leaf margin entire or with a few distant teeth; flowers axillary to leaves 4

3. Flowers on trunk and branches, on stalks less than 1cm long 2. D. natalensis

* Flowers on main trunk only, on stalks more than 2cm long 5. D. usambarica

4. Leaves 3-7 by 1.5-4cm, with asymmetric base; petiole 1-3mm 3. D. parvifolia

* Leaves 5-12 by 2-8.5cm, with symmetric base; petiole 4-8mm 4. D. reticulata

5. Leaf margin with a few small teeth; flowers axillary to leaves 1. D. gerrardii

* Leaf margin sharply toothed; flowers on old wood 2. D. natalensis

1. Drypetes gerrardii Hutch.

Tree 5-15m; bark light or dark grey, smooth. Young leaves red; leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate (usually unequal, sometimes one side rounded), apex acute to acuminate, margin remotely crenate-dentate (rarely completely entire), 5-12 (15) by 3-6cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow, axillary; sepals about 2mm long. Fruit golden brown, round and usually somewhat bilobed, 10-15mm across.

K134567; 600-2100m; I, III, V-VI, X-XII

Dry (or less often moist) upland forest or riverine forest.

For the purpose of this book I see this as a single, slightly variable species.

Munyenye (KIK), Manamakulu, Sinamagulu (LUH), Ol-Durdien (MAA), Ikalai, Lcheniioibor (SAM). Wood white, heavy.

Drypetes sp.

Drypetes gerrardii

2. Drypetes natalensis (Harv.) Hutch.

Shrub or tree 3-12m; bark smooth, grey, with knobs and ‘eyebrows’ from which flowers and fruits appear. Leaves elliptic, base symmetric (usually one side cuneate, one side rounded), apex bluntly acuminate, margin sharply serrate (rarely subentire), 9-20 by 4-8.5cm, glabrous. Flowers cream with a purple centre(?), in fascicles on bosses on older wood; sepals 4-4.5mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, round, to 2.7 by 3cm.

- var. natalensis (ovary and fruit hairy)

K4; 900-1450m; - *

(Riverine) forest.

- var. leiogyna Brenan (ovary and fruit glabrous)

K7; 1-450m; I-IV, X-XII

Evergreen forest, riverine forest, littoral thicket.

Mgandama, Msunduri (SWA, GIR), Katadon (BON), Mfidjofidjo (DIG), Mwadama (ILW), Soduluwage (SAN).

Drypetes natalensis

3. Drypetes parvifolia (Müll. Arg) Pax & K. Hoffm.

[D. sp. nov. of KTS]

Shrub or tree 1-6m. Leaves ovate, base asymmetric, rounded and cuneate, apex acuminate, margins entire or with a few distant teeth, 3-7 by 1.5-4cm, glabrous. Flowers yellowish, in axillary fascicles; sepals about 3mm long. Fruit yellow to orange, round, 13-18mm across.

K7; 1-200m; VII-VIII, X-XII *

Semi-deciduous forest, occasionally on limestone outcrops.

Mbage na Mbage (SWA). Used for building poles.

Drypetes parvifolia

4. Drypetes reticulata Pax

Tree 4-12m; bark smooth, yellow-green. Leaves elliptic or ovate, base cuneate or rounded (symmetric), apex obtuse or (bluntly) acuminate, margins entire, 5-12 by 2-8.5cm, glabrous. Flowers cream or yellow-green, in axillary fascicles; sepals about 2mm long. Fruit reddish brown, more or less round, slightly bilobed, 8-12mm across.

K7; 1-750m; III-IV, XI-XII*

Evergreen or semideciduous forest or on exposed coral.

Drypetes reticulata

5. Drypetes usambarica (Pax) Hutch.

var. mrimae Radc.-Sm. RARE, ?ENDANGERED

Tree 8-12m. Leaves elliptic, base asymmetric (cuneate/rounded to subcordate), apex bluntly acuminate, margins sharply serrate, 7-14 by 2.5-6cm, glabrous. Flowers pale yellow (?), long-stalked in fascicles on the main trunk; sepals 2-4mm long. Fruit unknown.

K7; 1-400m; * (endemic to Mrima, Kaya Kambe and Kaya Kinondo to near Arabuko-Sokoke)

Moist forest.

Note. Luke & Robertson 250 has densely hairy fruits, and so should be called var. trichogyna A.R. Smith; collected in Shimba Hills at 380m.


Dioecious shrubs. Leaves alternate, with (usually) persistent stipules. Inflorescence axillary, fasciculate or shortly racemose. Flowers small, petals absent. Fruit of 1-3 cocci, green, dehiscent to show the orange or red seed-aril.

1. Leaves pubescent beneath 2

* Leaves beneath glabrous or nearly so 4

2. Moist forest species 8

* Bushland, woodland or wooded grassland species 3

3. Leaf margin toothed 1. E. atrovirens

* Leaf margin entire 5. E. menyhartii

4. Flowers in lax racemes (Shimba Hills) 8. E. usambarica

* Flowers in dense single clusters 5

5. Flower clusters (sub) sessile 6

* Flower clusters on a stalk more than 5mm long 7

6. Stipules often spiny; widespread 2. E. bongensis

* Stipules not spiny; Coast province only 4. E. kirkii

7. Inland species found above 1400m 3. E. fischeri

* Coastal species found below 500m 6. E. pubescens

8. Coastal species; monoecious 8. E. sp. C

* Inland species; dioecious 7. E. trichogyne


1. Erythrococca atrovirens (Pax) Prain

Shrub 1.5-3m. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex acuminate, margin irregularly crenate-serrate, 8-13 by 3-7cm, short-pubescent beneath. Flowers greenish yellow, in pendulous racemes to 4cm long. Fruit green, 2-lobed, the lobes 4-6mm across.

K5; 1450-1750m; III, XII *

Riverine bush or wooded grassland (Bukura, Nandi Hills, Ngoina)

Shirietso (LUH).

2. Erythrococca bongensis Pax

Shrub or tree 1-4(6)m; bark pale brown, flaking in small sections; pairs of small (-3mm) spines sometimes present at the nodes. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex obtuse (acute), margins (irregularly) crenate-serrate, 1-9 by 0.5-4.5cm, glabrous (except in young leaves). Flowers yellow-green in short dense bunches. Fruit yellow to red, 3-lobed (or less by abortion), the lobes 3-4mm across.

K1234567; (50) 900-2100m; I-XII

Dry forest, riverine bushland/woodland/thicket, bushed grassland (secondary?) or (secondary) bushland in rocky sites.

Muharangare (KIK), Kusisitiet (KIP), Shiriedzo (LUH), Enduleleindu (MAA), Nitatumbe (SOM), Itulelei, Lechapirik (SAM), Kipkariss (TUG), Ekoromwai (TUR). The Maasai use a leaf infusion or decoction to treat swellings in cattle; the branches are used to make arrow shafts.

Erythrococca bongensis

3. Erythrococca fischeri Pax

Very similar to E. bongensis, but with the flowers in stalked inflorescences.

K123456; 1500-2300m; II, IV, VI, VIII, X-XI *

Drier upland forest types and riverine forest or thicket; also in groundwater woodland.

Chesiseiyey (KIK), Endulelei-Endim (MAA). Used to make arrow shafts.

Erythrococca fischeri

4. Erythrococca kirkii (Müll. Arg.) Prain

(Scandent) shrub 1-3.5m. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex bluntly acuminate, margins crenate, 3-12 by 1-6cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers greenish white, in dense clusters to 2cm. Fruit 1-3 lobed, the lobes 3-4mm across.

K7; 1-1000m; I-V, VIII-IX, XI *

Moist or dry forest margins and secondary bushland; also in semi-evergreen bushland.

Mgomberree (SWA), Umarere (DIG), Dawa ushingo (ILW), Mteru (TAV). The leaves are used as a vegetable.

Erythrococca kirkii

5. Erythrococca menyharthii (Pax) Prain

Shrub 1-3m. Leaves bunched on very short shoots on older wood, spaced on youngest twigs; leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex acute or bluntly acuminate, margins entire or nearly so, 1-8 by 0.4-2.5cm, scabridulous-pubescent beneath. Flowers greenish, often appearing with very young leaves, in dense (but racemose) clusters (male) or few-flowered racemes (female). Fruit usually 3-lobed, the lobes about 5mm.

K3467; 500-1850m; I, XI-XII *

Semi-evergreen bushland or woodland, especially on rocky sites.

Erytrococca menyhartii

6. Erythrococca pubescens Radc.-Sm. RARE

Much-branched shrub, 1-3m. Spines in pairs at the nodes, 1-5mm long. Leaves on older wood in bunches on short shoots, spaced on young twigs, ovate or obovate, base cuneate or obtuse, apex obtuse or rounded, margin shallowly crenate or subentire, 1.5-4.5 by 1-3cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers greenish, in shortly stalked clusters. Fruit 1 -lobed (always?), 4-4.5mm across.

K7; 1-500m; IX-X *

Dry bushland. Endemic to Kenya.

Erythrococca pubescens

7. Erythrococca trichogyne (Müll. Arg.) Prain

Shrub 1-3m. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex (bluntly) acuminate, margin crenate-dentate, 2-10 by 1-5cm, somewhat pubescent beneath. Flowers cream, in several-flowered racemes. Fruit 2-lobed, the lobes 3-4.5mm across.

K5; 1550-2050m; I-II, IX-XI *

Moist forest (margins and clearings) and riverine forest.

Erythrococca trichogyne

8. Erythrococca usambarica Prain

Shrub 1-2.5(8?)m. Leaves ovate to elliptic, base cuneate, apex acuminate, margins distantly crenate-dentate, 5-12 by 2-5cm, glabrous and slightly glandular. Flowers greenish cream, in rather lax racemes. Fruit 1-3-lobed, the lobes 4-5mm across.

K7; 50-400m; IV, IX, XI-XII *

Moist forest in Shimba Hills and at Buda.

9. Erythrococca sp. C of FTEA ENDANGERED

Shrub to 1.5m. Leaves narrowly elliptic, base cuneate, apex obtusely acuminate, 3-7 by 0.5-3cm, sparsely pubescent. Flowers in interrupted racemes; the only monoecious Erythrococca. Fruit 3-5-lobed, topped by 3-5 styles. Faden 77/254

K7, moist coastal forest: Buda, Pangani.


Extremely variable plants. The only really consistent features are the presence of white latex, the flowers and fruits. The ‘flower’ or cyathium consists of stamens (each stamen representing a male flower) with a central ovary (a female flower), surrounded by (2-) 5 (-8) glands, and usually subtended by bracts. Fruit a 3-celled capsule.

1. Plants spiny 2

* Plants unarmed 19

2. Branches woody, ending in a spine, no other spines present 3

* Spines along the succulent branches 4

3. Branches alternate 9. E. cuneata

* Branches 3-forked 24. E. matabelensis

4. Spines single, forked near the tip 37

* Spines in pairs 5

5. Horny spine shields clearly separate; trees 6

* Horny spine shields continuous or nearly so; trees or succulent shrubs 11


6. Ultimate branches less than 2.5cm across 7

* Ultimate branches 2.5-13cm across 8

7. Spines straight, 3-6mm long; on limestone and coral near Mombasa 39. E. wakefieldii

* Spines recurved, to 10mm on young branches; in dry bushland 30. E. robecchii

8. Branches deeply constricted into segments 9


* Branches hardly segmented 10

9. Ultimate branches to 13cm wide; leaves persistent on young growth, 3-13cm long 37. E. obovalifolia

* Ultimate branches to 6cm wide; leaves quickly deciduous, to 1cm long 10. E. cussonoides

10. Branches 4-5-winged; flowers yellow-green; widespread 7. E. candelabrum

* Branches 5-6-winged; flowers red; Witu forest 33, E. tanaensis

11. (Climbing) shrubs, the branches up to 4cm wide 12

* Trees, or if somewhat shrubby, then with branches more than 6cm wide 14

12. Spines inconspicuous, to 1mm long 8. E. cryptospinosa

* Spines 3-15mm long 13

13. Erect shrub with branches to 4cm wide; flowers yellow-green 38

* Semi-scandent shrub with branches up to 2cm wide; flowers red 19. E. heterochroma

14. Branches deeply constricted to form segments, more than 3cm across 15

* Branches hardly segmented, up to 2cm across; spines 2-9mm long 29. E. quinquecostata

15. Branches to 6cm across, 4-6-angled 1. E. adjurana

* Branches to 15cm across, 2-5-angled 16

16. Spines 3-7cm long; trees to 6m 4. E. breviarticulata

* Spines 0.3-3.5cm long; trees to 12m 17

17. Horny margins of spine-shields <1 mm wide 26. E. nyikae

* Horny margin of spine-shield >1.5 mm wide 18

18. Branches 3-4-winged; fruit deeply lobed, 9 by 19 mm 5. E. bussei

* Branches 4-5-winged; fruit shallowly lobed, 12 by 22-25 mm 23. E. magnicapsula

19. Branches succulent 20

* Branches woody 26

20. Branches 2.5-6cm across, constricted into segments; large tree 10. E. cussonoides

* Leaves present on young growth, usually more than 1cm long 21

21. Leaves present on young growth, usually more than 1 cm long 22

* Leaves absent, or less than 1cm long 23

22. Leaves 7-20 by 1-4.5cm; cyathea 3-8cm across 15. E. friesiorum

* Leaves smaller; cyathea < 1 cm across 44

23. Branches less than 1cm across; shrubs or trees to 6m 24

* Branches 1-2.5cm across; trees 5-10.5m 30. E. robecchii

24. Branches cylindrical; flowers yellow, in terminal clusters 25

* Branches 5-8-ribbed; flowers red, in axillary cymes 8. E. cryptospinosa

25. (Climbing) shrubs, 1-3m, from northern Kenya; flowers in umbels 6. E. calamiformis

* Shrub or tree 3-6m, from West/Central/Southern Kenya; flowers in short clusters 36. E. tirucalli

26. Leaves and flowers present at the same time 27

* Flowers present when leaves are absent 34

27. Leaves pubescent 28

* Leaves glabrous or nearly so 30

28. Leaves panduriform; often with obtuse base; bracts cream 29

28a panduriform (violin-shaped)

* Leaves obovate, with attenuate base; bracts green 32. E. Scheffleri

29. Cyathea (flower cups) glabrous; Lamu area 21. E. jatrophoides

* Cyathea pubescent; Kulal and south of Ewaso Nyiro 22. E. joyae

30. Forest (margin) species 31

* Bushland/woodland species 34

31. Leaves obovate, with rounded or acute apex; fruit > 10mm across 32. E. scheffleri

* Leaves elliptic, with acute apex; fruit up to 6mm across 32

32. Leaves acute at apex 33

* Leaves with thread-like apiculate apex 11. E. engleri

33. Central Kenya (Mau, Aberdares, Mt. Kenya); bracts with overlapping margins 37. E. ugandensis

* Taita Hills; bracts not overlapping 38. E. usambarica

34. Involucres (single group of cyathea, looking like a single flower) solitary along branchlets 13. E. espinosa

* Involucres terminal, usually in groups of 3 or more 35

35. Glands of involucre entire; fruit to 5mm across 28. E. polyantha

* Glands divided into 4 or more hair-like processes; fruit to 23mm across 36

36. Bracts of involucre large, to 5cm across 15. E. friesiorum

* Bracts of involucre to 1cm across 32. E. scheffleri

37. Spineshields separate 14. E. fluminis

* Spineshields (almost) continuous 16. E. glochidiata

38. Stems and branches not constricted 43

* Stems and branches constricted at intervals 39

39. Branches 4-5-angled, 1-2cm thick; longest spines 6-8 (-10)mm 40

* Branches 4-6 (-8)-angled, 1.5-4cm thick; longest spines 10-15mm 41

40. Branches 4-5-angled; fruit red 20. E. heterospina

* Branches 4-angled; fruit brown 3. E. borenensis

41. Shrub with spreading branches from the base 35. E. tescorum

* Shrub much-branched 42

42. Branches (4-) 5-6-angled; fruit dark red 31. E. scarlatina

* Branches 4-5 (-6)-angled; fruit reddish black 2. E. atroflora

43. Braches 3-6-ribbed; fruit sessile; Ramu area 12. E. erlangeri

* Branches 4-angled; fruit on a 2mm long stalk 34. E. tenuispinosa

44. Leaves persistent, obovate, with rounded apex 17. E. goetzei

* Leaves not persistent, when present not obovate but elliptic 45

45. Flower heads >10mm in diameter; branchlets more or less parallel to main branches 25. E. nubica

* Flower heads <8mm; branchlets spreading 18. E. gossypina

1. Euphorbia adjurana Bally & S. Carter

Tree 3-7m. Branches succulent, the older ones pendulous, the young ones erect. Branches 4-6-angled, constricted into segments, up to 6cm across. Spineshields on edges of angles continuous, with spines to 15mm long. Leaves about 2mm long, quickly deciduous. Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit crimson, 3-lobed, 7.5 by 12.5mm.

K1; 700-1300m; I, VI*

Bushland on rocky hills.

Euphorbia adjurana

2. Euphorbia atroflora S. Carter Succulent shrub, erect, to 2.5m. Branches 4-5 (-6) -angled, 2-3cm thick, constricted into segments. Spineshields continuous, with spines to 10mm long. Flowers yellowish red to crimson, in solitary 1-forked cymes. Fruit reddish black, 3-lobed, 3.5 by 5.5mm.

K147; 900-1800m; I, VI-VII, X*

Open bushland on rocky soils.

Euphorbia atroflora

3. Euphorbia borenensis M. Gilbert

Succulent shrub, erect, to 3m. Branches 4-angled, 1-2cm thick. Spineshields continuous, with spines to 8mm long but missing on the upper branches. Flowers in solitary 1-forked cymes. Fruit red-flushed, obtusely 3-lobed, 2.5 by 4mm.

K1; only known from the Ramu-Malka Man road, at 400m, in Acacia-Commiphora woodland on limestone.

4. Euphorbia breviarticulata Pax

(E. grandicornis sensu KTS)

Shrub or tree, 1.5-6m. Branches succulent, 2-4 winged, constricted into segments, to 15cm across. Spineshields continuous; spines to 7cm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit yellow-red, 3-angled, about 7 by 15mm.

K127; 1-1200m; X-XII *

Dry bushland.

Kalalue (BOR), Kalawille (ORM), Kalaula (SOM).

Euphorbia breviarticulata

5. Euphorbia bussei Pax var. kibwezensis (N.E. Br.) S. Carter

(E. kibwezensis N.E. Br.)

Tree 4-12m. Branches succulent, 2-5-winged, segmented to 14cm wide; spine shields continuous; spines 0.4-3.5cm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers golden yellow, in short cymes. Fruit 3-angled, to 9 by 16mm.

K467; 1-2000m; I, IV-VII, X *.

Dry bushland, often on rocky outcrops; on the coast also in dry forest margin.

Kithui (KAM). Used by the Kamba in the building of grain stores.

E. bussei

Euphorbia bussei

6. Euphorbia calamiformis Bally & S. Carter

(Climbing) shrub, 1-3m, succulent. Branches and stems cylindrical, unarmed, to 1cm across. Leaves up to 3cm, soon deciduous. Flowers yellow, in terminal umbels to 3cm long. Fruit pink, 3-angled, to 8mm across.

K1; 900-1600m; V, VII, XI*

Dry bushland.

Ano (BOR), Amboyo (SOM).

Euphorbia calamiformis

7. Euphorbia candelabrum Kotschy

Tree 6-18m with candelabra-like branching from the top of the trunk. Branches succulent, 4-5-angled, shortly winged, to 10cm across. Spine shields separated, with spines to 5mm long. Leaves to 2.5cm long, deciduous. Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit red, 2-3-lobed.

K1234567; 1-1800m; II, IX-XII *

On steep rocky slopes or rocky outcrops in bushland, thickets, wooded grassland or dry evergreen forest.

Mtungutungii, Mtupa (SWA), Baraidi (BON), Adama (BOR), Ganga (DIG), Addaama (GAB), Kyaa (KAM), Kithuri, Mububungu (KIK), Ludua (LUH), Bondo (LUO), Ol-Bobongo (MAA), Darkhen (SOM), Kuress (TUG), Yoopong (TUR). The white latex is dangerous to open wounds or if it gets into the eyes. A decoction of the pith of the branches is given to women just after childbirth by Maasai.

Euphorbia candelabrum

8. Euphorbia cryptospinosa Bally

Succulent shrub, usually climbing through other plants, 0.2-5m long. Branches succulent, 5-8-ribbed, to 1cm across; spineshields continuous, inconspicuous; spines to 1mm, inconspicuous. Flowers red, in short cymes. Fruit purple-green, about 2.5mm across.

K17; 150-1350m; I, VI, XII *

Open Acacia-Commiphora bushland or Duosperma bushland.

Arsa (BOR), Dalith-hoko (ORM). Latex poisonous.

Euphorbia cryptospinosa

9. Euphorbia cuneata Vahl

[E. spinescens of KTS]

Shrub or tree 0.5-3(-6)m; trunk bark yellow or greybrown, bark of branches often reddish purple, peeling; branches woody, ending in a spine. Leaves bunched on very short shoots, obovate, base attenuate, apex rounded, 1-4 by 0.4-1.6cm, glabrous or thinly pubescent. Flowers yellow or yellow-green, on very short shoots, on (usually) leafless branches. Fruit reddish purple.

K12467; 1-1350m; I-II, IV-XII

Acacia-Commiphora bushland or semi-desert scrub; on the coast in mixed bushland. Often occurs on lava, and may form pure stands there. This plant looks quite like a Commiphora!

Mchongoma, Mlimbilimbi (SWA), (H)Idda, Wara (BOR), (H)idaa (GAB), Kilewa (KAM), Andiqa, Ramo (REN), Ltilemani (SAM), D’rander (SOM), Echokokile, Lokilei (TUR).

Key to the subspecies:

1. Flower cyathea 1-3 per cyme 2

* Flower cyathea 4 or more per cyme 3

2. Branch bark shiny reddish purple ssp. lamproderma S. Carter

* Branch bark not shiny, grey or greybrown ssp. spinescens (Pax) S. Carter

3. Cyathea 4-5 per cyme, 5mm across ssp. cuneata

* Cyathea up to 30 per cyme, 3mm across ssp. wajirensis S. Carter

Euphorbia cuneata

10. Euphorbia cussonioides Bally VULNERABLE, ?ENDANGERED

Tree 9-25m. Branches succulent, 3-angled, constricted into segments, 2.5-6cm across. Spine shields separate, spines to 2mm long. Leaves to 1cm long, deciduous. Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit 3-lobed, 10-12 by 14-15mm.

K46; 1350-1800m; I, III*

Dry upland forest or riverine. Endemic.

Mramba (EMB), Mulembwa (KAM), Githuri (KIK).

Euphorbia cussonioides

11. Euphorbia engleri Pax

Woody herb or shrub 0.5-3m. Leaves slightly fleshy, (narrowly) elliptic, base attenuate, apex acute, 6-16 by 2-6cm, glabrous. Flowers (yellow-) green, in long stalked umbel-like cymes with large obovate bracts. Fruits yellow-green, 3-lobed, about 4mm long.

K134567; 1750-2650m; I-V, VII-XII

Dry or moist upland forest; also in bamboo zone.

Waotho (KIK), Chepkonget (KIP), Ol-Legole (MAA), Loitugumi (NDO), Lguburtu (SAM). Poisonous.

Euphorbia engleri

Euphorbia engleri

12. Euphorbia erlangeri Pax

Succulent scrambler to 3m. Branches 3-6-ribbed, 5-10mm thick. Spineshields continuous, with spines 1-4mm long. Flowers in solitary, 1-forked cymes. Fruit obtusely 3-lobed, 2.5 by 3.5mm.

K1; 450-650m; - *

Open Acacia-Commiphora bushland on limestone; confined to the Ramu area.

13. Euphorbia espinosa Pax

Shrub. 0.5-2.5m, sometimes subscandent. Leaves absent for most of the year, elliptic, base cuneate, apex acute, 2-5 by 1-2.5cm, glabrous. Flowers (present when leaves are absent) yellow-green with a touch of red, in very short cymes. Fruit purple-green, 3-lobed, 7-10 by 7-11mm.

K47; 500-1050m; VI, VIII-X *

Acacia-Commiphora bushland, often on rocky outcrops.

Oloilei (MAA), Ngolioniet (KIP).

Euphorbia espinosa

14. Euphorbia fluminis S. Carter VULNERABLE

Succulent shrub, semi-scandent, 0.6-2m. Branches 4-angled, 0.5-1cm across. Spine shields usually continuous; spines solitary, bifurcate at the apex, to 15mm long. Leaves less than 2mm long. Deciduous. Flowers red, in short cymes. Fruit 3-lobed, small.

K17; 1-100m; I, VI, VIII, XII * Endemic.

Dense bushland on sandy, alluvial soils.

Euphorbia fluminis

15. Euphorbia friesiorum (Hassler) S. Carter

(E. pseudograntii of KTS & UKWF) RARE

Shrub or less often tree 1-5(-10)m. Branches somewhat succulent, to 1cm across, with prominent leaf scars. Leaves persistent, narrowly elliptic or slightly obovate, base attenuate, apex acute with a very narrow, thread-like acumen, 7-20 by 1-4.5cm, glabrous. Flowers reddish green, in long terminal cymes, with cuplike bracts, the whole cyathium 3-8cm across. Fruits 3-lobed, to 20mm across.

K4; 650-1950m; II, IV-VI, X-XII * Endemic.

Dry bushland on rocky sites, in rocky sites along rivers, and on deforested land.

Mwaniathenge (KIK), Kithuri (MER). The latex may cause blindness when it gets into the eye.

Euphorbia friesiorum

16. Euphorbia glochidiata Pax

Subscandent, succulent shrub to 2m. Branches 4 (-5) -angled, to 1.5cm thick. Spineshields continuous or nearly so, with forked spines to 20mm long. Flowers in solitary, 1-forked cymes. Fruit purple-flecked, 3.5 by 5mm.

K147; 150-750m; V, IX, XI-XII*

Open Acacia-Commiphora bushland, usually on limestone.

Euphorbia glochidiata

17. Euphorbia goetzei Pax

Rather succulent shrubby herb to 4m. Leaves obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, to 15 by 6mm, pilose or glabrous. Flowers in 3-5-branched umbels to 15cm long. Fruit 3-lobed, 8 by 10mm.

K147; 500-1800m; VIII-XII*

Dense bushland on rocky slopes; known from “Yatta” and Voi.

18. Euphorbia gossypina Pax

Succulent scrambler, 1-10m long. Branches cylindrical, 4-10mm across, unarmed. Leaves on young shoots only, narrowly elliptic, 0.8-2.5 by 0.3-0.5cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green or reddish, in terminal umbellate cymes. Fruit 3-lobed, about 5mm across.

K134567; 1-2200m; I-IV, VI, VIII-XII (X-XII)

Dry bushland or thickets, especially on rocky outcrops or rocky hillsides; also in dry forest margins and rarely in wooded grassland.

Dana (ILW), Ngolionyit, Ngoliet (KIP), Oloilei (MAA), Dalith (ORM). The latex can cause blindness.

Euphorbia gossypina

Euphorbia gossypina

19. Euphorbia heterochroma Pax

ssp. tsavoensis S. Carter

Succulent-stemmed and -branched shrub, semi-scrambling, 1-3m. Branches 4-6-angled. to 2cm wide. Spine shields continuous; spines to 1cm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers red, in short cymes. Fruit purple-red, 3-lobed, about 4mm across.

K1467; 450-2050m; II-IV, VI-VIII *

Rocky outcrops and lava flows.

(H)arkeena (GAB), Enleusanoi (MAA).

E. heterochroma

Euphorbia heterochroma

20. Euphorbia heterospina S. Carter

Succulent shrub, erect, to 3.5m. Branches 4-5-angled, 1-2cm thick. Spineshields continuous or nearly so, with spines to 10mm, less than 1mm long on the upper branches. Flowers yellow or red, in solitary, 1-forked cymes. Fruit red-flushed, deeply 3-lobed, 3.5-6mm.

K23; 900-1800m; I, VIII*

Sparse woodland on rocky slopes.

Normally with yellow inflorescence; specimens with red cyathea are ssp. baringoensis S. Carter.

Euphorbia heterospina

21. Euphorbia jatrophoides Pax

Shrub 0.5-2.5m. Branches woody. Leaves obovate, base obtuse to subcordate, apex subacute, rounded or emarginate, 1-6.5cm by 1-3cm, short-pubescent beneath. Flowers yellow-green, subtended by large cream obovate bracts, in terminal cymes. Fruit 3 lobed, about 5mm long.

K1; 400-800m; III*

Dry bushland, usually on limestone. Known from Lamu area. Sheikhboh (BOR).

22. Euphorbia joyae Bally & S. Carter

Looks very much like E. jatrophoides, but with hairy instead of glabrous cyathea. K147; 150-750m; II-VI, XII (V, XII) Open Acacia-Commiphora bushland. Endemic. Kangalsha (BOR). A decoction of the roots is employed in a cough medicine by the Boran.

Euphorbia joyae

23. Euphorbia magnicapsula S. Carter

var. lacertosa S. Carter

Tree 4.5-12m. Branches succulent, 3-4-winged, segmented, to 12cm wide; spine shields continuous; spines 0.3-1.5cm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers yellow, in short cymes. Fruit not seen.

K23; 1200-2200m; X *

Bushland on rocky slopes or riverine/lakeside thickets.

Emuss (TUR).

Euphorbia magnicapsula

24. Euphorbia matabelensis Pax

Shrub or tree 2.5-5m, with 3-forked branching, the branches ending in spines; bark smooth, brown or yellow-green; looking like a Commiphora. Leaves in small clusters from short spur shoots, obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, 1-3.5 by 0.5-1.2cm, densely pubescent. Flowers usually present when leafless, yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit 3-lobed, to 8mm across.

K46; 1200-1500m; XI-XII *

Dry Acacia-Commiphora bushland on, or at the base of, rock outcrops.

Euphorbia matabelensis

25. Euphorbia nubica N.E. Br.

(Sub) scandent shrub to 2m, forming tangled masses. Branches about 1 cm thick, fleshy. Leaves sessile, lanceolate, to 18 by 5mm, caducous. Flowers yellow, in short dense cymes. Fruit obtusely 3-lobed, to 10 by 15mm.

K12; 1350-1550m; IV, XI-XII*

Dry bush- or woodland.

Euphorbia nubica

26. Euphorbia nyikae Pax

Shrub or more often tree, 3-12m. Branches succulent, 2-4-winged, segmented, to 12cm wide; spine shields continuous (or nearly so); spines 0.3-3 (4)cm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit yellow-green, to 12mm across.

K347; 1-150m(coast) & 550-2000m; V, VII, XI *

On the coast [var. neovolkensii (Pax) S. Carter] in forest margins or Brachystegia woodland; inland (var. nyikae) in semi-evergreen bushland/woodland on rocky hills and outcrops.

Euphorbia nyikae

Euphorbia nyikae

27. Euphorbia obovalifolia A. Rich.

Tree 4.5-18m. Branches succulent, 3-4-winged, segmented, to 13cm wide; spine shields separate; spines 0.1-0.4cm long. Leaves persistent on young growth, leathery, obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, 3-13 by 1-4.5cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green in short cymes. Fruit 3-angled, to 13mm across.

K2346; 2100-2400m; - *

Forest (remnants); conspicuous on the top ridge of Ngong Hills.

Koresiet (KIP, NAN), Kureswa (TUG, MAR).

Euphorbia obovalifolia

28. Euphorbia polyantha Pax

Shrub 0.5-2m, occasionally scrambling to 3m; bark shiny, reddish brown, peeling. Leaves obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, 1-4 by 0.7-2cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers (occasionally present when shrub is leafless) in terminal cymes to 4cm long, yellow-green, with round bracts. Fruit purplebrown, 3-lobed, to 5mm across.

K12467; 50-1200m; I-II, IV-V, X-XII.

Acacia bush- or woodland, usually on rocky hillsides and outcrops.

Euphorbia polyantha

29. Euphorbia quinquecostata Volkens

Tree 4.5-10.5m, with dark scaling bark. Branches succulent, 4-5-angled (-8, Gillett 19144?). to 2cm across. Spine shields (almost) continuous; spines 0.2-0.9cm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit yellow-green with red sutures, 3-lobed, to 14mm across.

K47; 550-1000m; I, XII *

Dry bushland or rocky hills; large stands on Sagalla.

Note. Gilbert 5619 from Nguronit is a new species closely allied to E. quinquecostata.

E. quinquecostata

Euphorbia quinquecostata

30. Euphorbia robecchii Pax

Tree 5-10.5m, with grey bark. Branches succulent, cylindrical, 1-2.5cm wide, and spineless when mature, 3-4-angled, and with recurved spines to 1cm when young; spine shields separate. Leaves deciduous, minute. Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit purple-grey, 3-angled, to 15mm across.

K12467; 1-800m; I-II, V*

Acacia-Commiphora bushland; forms pure stands near Garsen.

Hathama (ILW), Dagerai, Shatetai (MAA), Hadhame (ORM), Darkhen (SOM), Eopong (TUR).

Euphorbia robecchii

31. Euphorbia scarlatina S. Carter

Succulent shrub, erect, to 3m. Branches (4-) 5-6-angled, 15-25mm thick, constricted at 10-30cm intervals. Spineshields continuous, with spines to 10mm long, but shorter on the upper branches. Flowers red, in solitary, 1-forked cymes. Fruit dark red, deeply 3-lobed, 3.5 by 5.5mm.

K36; 600-2000m;?*

Open bushland on rocky slopes.

Euphorbia scarlatina

Euphorbia scarlatina

32. Euphorbia scheffleri Pax

Shrub 1-4m or more rarely a tree up to 12m. Leaves tufted at branch ends, obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, emarginate or acute, 3-10 by 1.5-6cm, glabrous or sparsely pubescent. Flowers (often present when plant is leafless) yellow-green with a reddish centre, in terminal umbels or clusters (to 2.5cm long). Fruit 3-lobed, 23mm across.

K1467; 450-1050 (1650)m; I-VI, VIII-X, XII (III-V)

Dry bushland, usually on rocky hills or on rocky riverbanks; also in dry forest margins.

Kilembwa (KAM), Ol-Asajet (MAA), Anjir (SOM), Lkorbobit (SAM). Smoke from the wood serves as a meat tenderizer.

Easily confused with Synadenium spp.

NOTE: Van Someren 29 & 180 from Emali Hill are described as forest margin trees to 12m high; this differs from the usual description, and its altitude is also higher than usual. I was unable to find the species there.

Euphorbia scheffleri

33. Euphorbia tanaensis Bally


Tree 16-30m. Branches succulent, 5-6-winged, not or hardly segmented, to 11cm wide; spines shields separate, spines 2-8mm long. Leaves to 6mm long, deciduous. Flowers red, in short cymes. Fruit red, 3-lobed, to 5(?)mm across.

K7; only known from Witu forest; XI *

Semi-deciduous swamp forest. Only 10 trees are known to exist.

34. Euphorbia tenuispinosa Gilli

Subscandent shrubby succulent to 1.8m. Branches 4-angled, 5-10mm thick. Spineshields continuous or nearly so, with spines 2-12mm long. Flowers yellow-brown, in solitary, 1-forked cymes. Fruit obtusely 3-lobed, 3.5 by 5.5mm.

K147; 150-1100m; V-VI, VIII-IX*

Acacia-Commiphora bushland.

Hadama (GALLA/OROMO). An important constituent of the arrow poison of the Galla.

Euphorbia tenuispinosa

35. Euphorbia tescorum S. Carter

Succulent shrub, 0.5-2m, many-stemmed from the base; stems/branches (4) 5-6(-8)-angled, to 4cm wide; Spineshields continuous, spines 0.3-1.5cm long about 2mm long, deciduous. Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit reddish, 3-lobed, to 5.5mm across.

K12; 550-1300m; V-IX, XI *

In crevices of rocky outcrops, lava, and on scree.

Dollo-Taraabet (REN), Kalalui (SOM), Echorokog (TUR).

Euphorbia tescorum

36. Euphorbia tirucalli L.

Shrub or tree 3-6m. Branches succulent, cylindrical, unarmed, leaves to 6mm long, on young growth only. Flowers cream or yellow-green, in short terminal clusters. Fruit 3-lobed, to 6mm across.

K24567; 0-1600m; IV, IX, XII *

Dry bushland, thickets, and coastal bushland.

Believed to come from India originally; widely planted as a hedgeplant, and gone wild in many places.

Finger Euphorbia (STAND), Mtupa mwitu (SWA), Utudi (DIG), Dana (ILW), Ndau (KAM), Ojuok (LUO), Ol-Oile (MAA), Asubgwa (MAR), Wadida (ORM), Tumwen (PKT), Dana (SOM). Used for fish poison.

Euphorbia tirucalli

Euphorbia tirucalli

37. Euphorbia ugandensis Pax

Woody herb or shrub 0.5-3m, with red stems and branches. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate, apex acute, 2-8.5 by 1-2.5cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in terminal umbels 2-6cm long. Fruit reddish, 3-lobed, to 6mm across.

K346; 2150-3200m; I, III-XII

Disturbed forest, forest margins, bamboo margins, Hagenia woodland.

Dangarasiet (LUM), Oldengararia (MAA). Maasai use a leaf infusion as an emetic against cold and cough.

Euphorbia ugandensis

38. Euphorbia usambarica Pax

Woody herb or shrub 1.5-2m, resembling E. ugandensis.

K7; 1350-1750m; *

Forest margins or disturbed forest in Taita Hills.

39. Euphorbia wakefieldii N.E. Br. ENDANGERED

Tree 5-12m. Branches succulent, 3-angled, to 2cm wide, not segmented; spineshields separate, spines 3-6mm long. Leaves deciduous (not seen). Flowers yellow-green, in short cymes. Fruit brown, 3-lobed, to 8mm wide.

K7; 1-300m; II *

On coral cliffs and limestone outcrops; occasionally thicket-forming. Endemic to Mombasa-Kilifi area.


Monoecious. Inflorescence spicate, with small flowers; petals absent.

1. Leaves alternate 1. E. Bussei

* Leaves opposite 2. E. madagascariensis


1. Excoecaria bussei (Pax) Pax

Tree 4-10m, with white latex in all parts. Bark grey, rough or smooth. Leaves alternate, slightly obovate, base cuneate, apex shortly acuminate, margin crenulate, 5-20 by 2-8cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in terminal (rarely axillary) spikes to 8cm; corolla to 1.5mm. Fruit inflated, globose, 3-angled, 3.5-6cm across.

K7; only known (in Kenya) from an area inland from Kiunga, near Mangai; 1-50m; - *

Woodland/bushland or scattered tree grassland.

2. Excoecaria madagascariensis (Baill.) Müll. Arg.

Shrub or tree 2-3m, with latex in all parts. Leaves opposite, elliptic, base cuneate, apex obtuse or bluntly acuminate, margin entire, 4-15 by 2-5.5cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in axillary spikes to 3cm; flowers to 1mm long. Fruit 3-lobed, about 1cm across.

K47; 1-400m (coast) or 900-1450m; I *

Riverine forest (inland), coastal forest or thicket.

Mugulare (GIR). The latex is used as an ingredient for arrow-poison.

Excoecaria madagascariensis


Dioecious. Leaves alternate. Flowers axillary; sepals 5, petals 0.

Flueggea virosa (Willd.) Voigt.

[Securinega virosa (Willd.) Baill.]

Shrub (rarely tree) 1-6m. Leaves obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded or emarginate, 2-5 by 1-2.5cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green or cream, in sparse to very dense axillary fascicles; sepals 1.5-2mm. Fruit white, 2-3 by 4-5mm.

K1234567; 1-1800m; I, III-V. VII-XII (XI)

Riparian, in rocky bushland/bushed grassland, in wooded grassland; less often (western and coastal areas) in forest margins, also on black cotton soil.

Mkwamba (SWA, GIR), Mukuluu (KAM), Esarara (KIS), Getaruwet (KIP), Kagera (LUO), Kisasari (LUH), Segeteti (MAA), Kororo (ORM), Kiptarpotich (PKT), Elakis (TUR). A root decoction is employed against chest pains by the Kamba; pounded leaves are insect-repellent. Wood durable, yielding a good charcoal. Fruit edible. Maasai use the twigs as tooth-brushes.

Flueggia virosa

Flueggia virosa


Dioecious, with stellate hairs on all parts. Leaves alternate. Male flowers in axillary panicles; female flowers terminal and solitary. Fruit a 1-seeded drupe.

Givotia gosai A.R. Smith

[Genus novum of KTS]

Shrub or tree 2-6m, much spreading. Bark dark grey. Branches with viscid dark brown sap. Leaves clustered on short axillary shoots, spaced on terminal shoots, almost round or reniform, sometimes 3-5-lobed, base cuneate or subcordate, apex obtuse, 2-5 by 2-7cm, densely stellate-pubescent but becoming almost glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in panicles to 4.5cm long (male) or solitary (female); corolla 5-6mm long. Fruit yellow, round, 25-27mm across.

K147; 50-650m; III, V, IX-XII *

Acacia-Commiphora or Acacia-Grewia bushland; may be locally common.

Kossaye (BOR), Kosaiye (ILW, ORM), Ilimindi (KAM), Gossai, Kosai (SOM). The fruit is edible.

Givotia gosai

Givotia gosai


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate. Flowers in axillary fascicles; petals 5.

Heywoodia lucens Sim

Tree 6-30m, with greybrown, slightly rough bark which flakes in older trees. Leaves broadly (elliptic-) ovate, base cuneate or rounded (peltate on sucker shoots), apex shortly acuminate, 4-15 by 2-12cm, glabrous. Flowers greenish, in fascicles; petals 2-2.5mm. Fruit depressed globose, 9-12mm long, 14-18mm across, opening explosively.

K14; 1200-1950m; III, VII-IX *

Riverine forest or dry upland forest.

Mutaigoka (KIK), Nyoosia (SAM).

Heywoodia lucens

Heywoodia lucens


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, with caducous stipules. Petals absent. Fruit a winged capsule.

Hymenocardia acida Tul.

Shrub or tree 3-6m. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex obtuse, 4-10 by 1.5-4cm, yellowbrown-pubescent to almost glabrous beneath, densely gland-dotted beneath. Flowers reddish, the male in spikes on older wood to 7cm, the female in terminal racemes to 3cm; flowers about 1mm. Fruit flat, 2-winged, 2-2.5cm long.

K5; 1100-1650m; X*

Wooded grassland.

Olulando (LUH). Wood very hard, durable and termite-resistant; used to make charcoal for iron-smelting by the Luhya.

Hymenocardia acida

Hymenocardia acida


Monoecious. Usually with a thick rootstock or tuber. Leaves alternate, stipulate, the stipules usually divided and sometimes becoming spiny. Inflorescences cymose, with a single female flower terminating each axis, lateral branchlets male-flowered. Petals 5. Female flowers opening before the male ones.

1. Stipules spiny, over 1mm long 2

* Stipules not spiny, or less than 1mm 6

2. Spines in groups of 2 or 3, usually forked 4. J. ellenbeckii

* Spines unbranched 3

3. Spines 10-30mm long; leaves petiolate 3. J. dichtar

* Spines less than 9mm long; leaves (sub) sessile 9. J. rivae s.l. (see 4)

4. Leaves glandular-toothed 1. J. arguta

* Leaves shallowly lobed, not toothed 5

5. Spines recurved, 1-3mm; leaves more or less lobed 7. J. parvifolia

* Spines straight, 3-8mm; leaves (sub)entire 9. J. rivae

6. Leaves shallowly lobed 2. J. curcas

* Leaves deeply lobed 7

7. Leaves 9-12-lobed, some lobes again lobed 6. J. multifida

* Leaves 3-5-lobed 8

8. Leaf margins glandular-dentate or serrate 10

* Leaf margins entire 9

9. Leaves and young branches pubescent 11. J. stuhlmannii

* Leaves and young branches glabrous 5. J. hildebrandtii

10. Petiole 4-28mm long; stipules less than 2mm long 8. J. pelargoniifolia

* Petiole 40-80mm long; stipules up to 13mm long 10. J. spicata

1. Jatropha arguta Chiov.

Shrub 0.5-2m; bark purple-grey. Stipules spiny, 2-6mm long. Leaves subsessile, obovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, margin glandular-dentate, 1-3 by 0.5-1cm, sparsely hairy beneath. Flowers greenish, in axillary cymes; corolla 4.5-5mm. Fruit round, 3-lobed, 6-7mm.

K1; 400-450m; V*

Acacia-Commiphora woodland on limestone: Malka Mari area, NE Kenya.

Note: this species is very close to both J. parvifolia and J. rivae.

2. Jatropha curcas L.

Shrub or tree, 1.5m; bark smooth, greenish yellow-brown, peeling in papery scales. Stems rather fleshy with much latex. Leaves broadly ovate, usually shallowly 5-lobed, base cordate, apex acuminate, 7-13 by 7-14cm, glabrous or nearly so; 5-9-nerved from base. Flowers yellow-green, in supra-axillary corymbs to 9cm; flowers about 6mm. Fruit ellipsoid, 25-30cm long.

K457; 1-1650m; I-III, XII *

The ‘physic nut’, widely cultivated and gone wild in bushland and along rivers.

Jatropha curcas

3. Jatropha dichtar Macbr.

[J. ferox Pax]

Shrub 1-4m, with many erect branches from the base; bark dark reddish-purple, papery-peeling (to show green underbark?). Latex clear, milky or red. Spines straight, 1-5cm long. Leaves broadly ovate, shallowly 3-5-lobed, base cordate, apex obtuse, margins dentate or subentire, 1.5-6 by 1.5-6cm, densely tomentose. Flowers pale yellow, fading to pink, in axillary corymbs to 6.5cm long; corolla 17-19mm long. Fruit shallowly 3-lobed, 17-25 by 20-30mm.

K147; 50-1100m; I-V, VII, IX-XII (I, V, XII)

Acacia-Commiphora bushland on sand.

Imbiloi (BOR), Gurur (ORM), Laparana (SAM), Etirah (TUR), Dighdarr (SOM). The stem juice is used by the Somali for eyedrops; the roots are emetic.

Jatropha dichtar

4. Jatropha ellenbeckii Pax

[J. fissispina Pax]

Semi-succulent shrub with thick, short main stem. Latex clear or reddish yellow. Spines in 2 or 3 from a thickened base, often forked, 0.5-3cm long. Leaves palmately divided in 5-7 lobes, glandular-dentate, 4-12 by 3-12cm, pubescent. Flowers cream or yellow-green, in 10-20cm long terminal panicles; corolla about 4mm long. Fruit ellipsoid, 3-lobed, 10-14 by 9-12mm.

K123467; 250-1050m; II, V, VIII, X-XII *

Dry bushland on rocky sites; occasionally on silty soil.

Dawa-buna (ILW), Burankis (ORM), Halbun (SOM), Lotou (TUR, PKT). The juice is used to heal wounds.

Jatropha ellenbeckii

5. Jatropha hildebrandtii Pax var. Hildebrandtii

Shrub 1-1.5(-3.5)m with slightly fleshy stems. Latex clear yellowish. Spines minute, about 1mm. Leaves palmately divided in (3)5 lobes, margins (sub-)entire, 4-14 by 4-16cm, glabrous. Flowers reddish yellow, in subterminal corymbs to 15cm; corolla about 3mm. Fruit ellipsoid, 3-lobed, 10-12 by 8-10mm.

K7; near sea-level; I, II, VIII *

Sand dunes on Lamu Island and near Kiunga.

6. Jatropha multifida L.

Shrub or small tree. Leaves palmately divided into 9-12 narrow lobes, with some of the lobes pinnately divided.

Cultivated and occasionally gone wild at the coast. “Coral tree”.

7. Jatropha parvifolia Chiov.

Shrub 0.5-3m, much branched. Bark purplegrey, sap clear to reddish yellow. Spines slightly recurved, 1-3mm long. Leaves subsessile, clustered on short shoots; blade shallowly lobed, ovate, base cuneate, apex obtuse, 1-3 by 0.8-2cm, glabrous except for midrib & veins. Flowers yellow-green, fading to pink, in stalked axillary cymes; flowers 2mm (male) and 3-10mm (female). Fruit ellipsoid, 3-lobed, 8-10 by 7-8mm.

K1267; 200-1050m; II, IV-VI, VIII-IX, XI-XII (XI-XII)

Acacia-Commiphora bushland, bushed grassland, and sparse bushland on lava or in rock crevices; may form pure stands in the North, on rock or gravel plains.

Finchiriss (BOR), Nyorohole (REN), Ebulon (TUR), Gedon, Washekara (SOM).

Jatropha parvifolia

Jatropha ferox Pax - a: branchlet (× ½). b: almost leafless branchlet (× ½). c: fruit (× 1). d: flower (× 2). e: gynoecium of flower (× 3). - a & e: from Glover & Gilliland 287; b & d: from Hemming 331; c: from Dale 718.

8. Jatropha pelargoniifolia Courb.

Shrub, 0.5-1.5m, obconical. Sap pale yellow turning reddish. Spines minute or absent. Leaves palmately 3-5-lobed, the lobes obovate, with glandular-denticulate margins, 2-5 by 2-6cm, pubescent or glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in leaf-opposed or subterminal stalked cymes; flowers 3-4mm. Fruit ellipsoid, 3-lobed, 7-11 by 6-8mm.

K127; 200-1000m; I, III-V, VII-VIII, X-XII

Acacia-Commiphora bushland or semi-desert scrub; may be locally dominant in sand dune areas.

Dighdar Yer/Sauwar (SOM), Nyoroholi (REN), Ebulon (TUR).

Jatropha pelargoniifolia

9. Jatropha rivae Pax s.s.

Very similar to J. parvifolia, but with the leaves (sub-) entire; spines 3-8mm, straight.

K1; 300m; V*

Acacia-Commiphora bushland on rocky hill (03°38’ N, 41°46’ E)

Note. J. rivae is the oldest name for the argutal parvifolia/rivae complex.

10. Jatropha spicata Pax

Woody herb or shrub 0.3-2.5m with tuberous root. Sap clear to milky. Spines absent. Leaves palmately and deeply 3-5-lobed, 5-12 by 6-15cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green or reddish green, in long terminal or leaf-opposed cymes; flowers 3.5-4mm. Fruit ellipsoid, 3-lobed, 10-13 by 9-13mm.

K13467; 1-1200m; I-V, VII-VIII, X-XII (IV-V, XII)

Acacia-Commiphora bushland, often on rocky sites; also on alluvial or black soils; at the coast also on sand dunes.

Kalamba (KAM), Muk-sala (ORM). A leaf or stem infusion is used by Boran as a laxative.

Jatropha spicata

11. Jatropha stuhlmannii Pax

Shrub 1-2m; sap clear. Spines absent. Leaves palmately and deeply 5-lobed, 4-12 by 4-16cm, pubescent. Flowers yellow-green, in long-stalked leaf-opposed (seemingly terminal) cymes; flowers 4-5mm. Fruit ellipsoid, 3-lobed, 8-11 by 8-10mm.

K17; 1-1050m; IV, VIII, X*

Dry bushland or bushland, often on alluvium.

Bakha (SOM).

Jatropha stuhlmannii


Trees and shrubs with simple indument. Leaves alternate, stipulate, sometimes peltate, palminerved or penninerved. Inflorescences dioecious (rarely monoecious), axillary and solitary (rarely fasciculate) or clustered; male inflorescences many-flowered, female ones 1-flowered; petals absent, stamens 1-30.

1. Leaves 3-lobed 4. M. schweinfurthii

* Leaves entire 2

2. Petiole 10-20cm; leaves 10-30 by 10-20cm 1. M. capensis

* Petiole 1.5-11cm; leaves 4-17.5 by 2-13cm 3

3. Inflorescence a dense cluster (Taita Hills only) 2. M. conglomerata

* Inflorescence a loose panicle (widespread) 3. M. kilimandscharica

1. Macaranga capensis (Baill.) Sim.

(incl. M. ruwenzorica Pax)

Tree 3.5-15(30)m; bark smooth, grey; stem and branches spiny when young. Leaves broadly ovate, base (deeply) cordate or peltate and rounded, shortly acuminate, 10-30 by 10-20cm, 7-11-nerved from the base, tomentellous but glabrescent, densely glandular-punctate beneath. Inflorescence 5-12cm long. Fruit subglobose, 3-5 by 4-6mm, densely yellow-green glandular.

K47; 300-2100m; V-VI *

Moist forests, especially near streams.

Mbawa (SWA), Mukuhakuha (KIK).

Macaranga capensis

Macaranga capensis (Baill.) Sim. a: flowering branchlet from plant (× ½). b: part of inflorescence (× 4). c: L.S. flower (× 15). d: flowering branchlet from plant (× ½). e: part of inflorescence (× 3). f: flower (× 15). g: fruits (× ½). h: fruit (× 3). - a-c: from Drummond & Hemsley 1176; d-f: from Drummond & Hemsley 2456; g & h: from Drummond & Hemsley 1311.

2. Macaranga conglomerata Brenan RARE

Tree to 25m; bark smooth, grey. Leaves (broadly) ovate, base rounded or cordate (peltate in saplings only), apex acuminate, margin entire or minutely denticulate, 4-17.5 by 2-13cm, 7-9-nerved from the base, rusty-tomentellous but glabrescent, densely glandular-punctate beneath. Inflorescence long-peduculate and 5-10mm (-20mm in fruit) across, with brown-green flowers. Fruit obovoid or two-lobed, 5-6 by 4-8mm, densely yellow-green glandular.

K7; 1400-1800m; IX*

Taita Hills forest.

Dundu (TAI).

3. Macaranga kilimandscharica Pax

Tree 6-24m; bark pale grey (rarely described as pale red-brown). Leaves triangular-ovate, base cuneate, rounded, truncate or rarely subcordate, occasionally peltate, apex acuminate, 5-15 by 3-10cm. 3-7-nerved from the base, rusty-tomentellous but glabrescent, densely glandular-punctate beneath. Inflorescences 2-10cm long, with yellow-green flowers. Fruit dull green, subglobose or two-lobed, 4-6 by 5-11mm, densely glandular.

K3457; 1650-2400m; II, VI, IX, XII *

Moist upland forest, often abundant in forest edges.

Macaranga (STAND), Erwa (CHE), Legumeta (NDO), Mukuhakuha (KIK), Mukalati (KAM), Mukaho, Mukuhakuha (LUH), Kibgetoyoa (MAR), Mukarati (MER) Sebesebet (NAN), Kaptebema (SEB), Logomaita (KIP, NDO). Wood used for boxes and crates.

M. kilimandscharica

4. Macaranga schweinfurthii Pax

Tree to 25m with flat crown and spiny trunk; bark rough, grey. Leaves three-lobed, base cordate, apex acute, margin repand-dentate, 25-50 by 25-50cm, 9-nerved from the base, glabrous or nearly so, minutely glandular-punctate beneath; petiole 12-40cm. Inflorescences 6-22cm long. Fruit two-lobed, 8-9 by 9-10mm, puberulous but glabrescent.

K5; 1300-1500m; II *. Only three specimens known; not collected for 25 years.

Riverine or swamp forest: Bukura-Sabatia area.

Subuhu (LUH).


Dioecious, Leaves opposite. Flowers in axillary racemes; petals absent.

Mallotus oppositifolius (Geisel.) Müll. Arg.

Shrub or tree 1-8m. Bark pale grey. Leaves (broadly) ovate, base subcordate to rounded and cuneate, apex acuminate, margin subentire to glandular-denticulate, 3-16 by 2-10cm, stellate-pubescent to almost glabrous and somewhat glandular; petioles of opposite leaves of different lengths. Flowers whitish or yellow-green, in long-stalked racemes; sepals about 2mm long. Fruit depressed globose, 3-lobed, 5-7 by 7-9mm.

K57; 1-450m (coast) and about 1600m (Kakamega); I-III, V-XI (XI)

Dry or moist forest (margins); less often in coastal bush.

Mchacha (SWA), Mkonga (DIG), Mtangula-Duza (GIR). A root decoction is employed against chest pains by the Digo.

Mallotus oppositifolius

Mallotus oppositifolius


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipules soon falling. Flowers: males in axillary fascicles, females 1-3, axillary. Petals absent.

Margaritaria discoidea (Baill.) Webster

[Phyllanthus discoideus (Baill.) Müll. Arg.]

Tree (rarely a shrub) 4-24m; bark pale grey, soft & thick, occasionally with thick spines to 4cm. Leaves elliptic or slightly (ob-)ovate, base cuneate, apex rounded, obtuse or acuminate, 2-11 by 1-7cm, glabrous to sparsely puberulous. Flowers cream or pale yellow, in fascicles; sepals 1-3mm. Fruit deeply (var. triplosphaera) or shallowly (var. nitida, fagifolia) 3-4-lobed, 5-9 by 10-13mm.

K134567; 1-400m (coast) and 1200-1950m; I, IV, IX, XI*

Moist or dry forest (margins) or forest remnants.

Chipalika (DIG), Mukololo (GIR), Mukarara (KIK), Mugaruturu (MER), Tusuandet (TUG). Used as building poles.

Margaritaria discoidea

Phyllanthus discoideus (Baill.) Müll. Arg. - a: fruiting branchlet from plant (× ½). b: young fruit (× 2). c: portion of flowering branchlet from plant (× ½). d: flower (× 8). - a: from Napier 6680; b: from Napier 5948; c & d: from M.D. Graham 1.


Monoecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate. Flowers in axillary fascicles; petals absent. Fruit 3-lobed.

Meineckia fruticans (Pax) Webster

Shrub 0.5-1.5(3)m, often with pendulous branches. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate to obtuse, apex shortly and bluntly acuminate, 1-9 by 0.5-4.5cm, glabrous. Flowers greenish-white, in fascicles; sepals 1-1.5mm. Fruit 4-4.5mm across.

K7; 1-300m; VI, XI-XII *

Forest or woodland on limestone or coral.

Meineckia fruticans

Meineckia fruticans


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate. Inflorescences axillary; petals absent.

1. Petiole (11) 40-70mm long; central Kenya 1. M. holstii

* Petiole 2-11mm long; coast 2. M. scariosa

1. Micrococca holstii (Pax) Prain

Shrub 1-3m. Leaves (narrowly) elliptic, base cuneate or obtuse, apex acuminate, margins denticulate, 5-20 by 2-7.5cm, sparsely pubescent to subglabrous beneath; petiole near with 2-4 tiny stipels. Flowers greenish, the males in 5-20cm long racemes, the females in 1.5-2cm long racemes; sepals about 1.5mm long. Fruit subglobose, 3-lobed, 3-4 by 6-7mm.

K4; 1900-2400m; II-III, X *

Moist (Ocotea) forest.

Micrococca holstii

Micrococca holstii

2. Micrococca scariosa Prain VULNERABLE, ?ENDANGERED

Shrub 1.5-3m. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate, apex acuminate, margin subentire or remotely toothed, 6-15 by 2-8cm, glabrous. Flowers whitish, the males in up to 20cm long spikes, the females in 3-5cm long spikes; sepals about 1mm. Fruit 3-lobed, 6-10 by 10-12mm.

K7; 1-100m; XI *

Forest on limestone at Pangani; also at Gongoni.


Dioecious. Leaves alternate; stipules deciduous. Inflorescences (supra) axillary. Petals 5.

Mildbraedia carpinifolia (Pax) Hutch.

Shrub or tree 1-5m. Leaves glossy above, elliptic, base rounded or subcordate, apex acuminate, margin subentire or serrate in upper half, 3-21 by 2-8cm, somewhat sandpapery due to stellate pubescence. Flowers yellow-green or cream, in stalked cymes to 8cm, petals 3-4mm. Fruit globose, 3-lobed, 6-7 by 7-10mm.

K7; 1-450m; IV, VI, VIII, X-XII *

Coastal forest or woodland.

Mildbraedia carpinifolia

Mildbraedia carpinifolia


Trees or shrubs with stellate hairs. Leaves alternate, stipulate, palminerved. Inflorescences dioecious, terminal, paniculate, the male inflorescences larger than the female. Flowers without petals; stamens 15-30.

1. Mature leaves pubescent on veins beneath 1. N. macrocalyx

* Mature leaves densely tomentose beneath 2. N. melleri

1. Neoboutonia macrocalyx Pax

Tree (2) 7-25m; bark fairly smooth, greybrown. Leaves broadly ovate or subcircular, base cordate, apex acute or shortly acuminate, margin entire or denticulate, 6-35 by 6-35cm, pubescent on vein-network; petiole 10-20cm long, with 2 stipitate glands near leaf-insertion. Inflorescence with yellow-green flowers, to 50 by 30cm. Fruit grey, three-lobed, 10-12 by 12-13mm, stellate-pubescent.

K1234567; 1600-2700m; I, III-IV, VI, IX-XII

Upland forest, mostly on edges and in clearings. A quick-growing pioneer in places where moist forest has been disturbed or cleared.

Kibatwa (CHE), Mwega (KAM), Mutundu (KIK), Sabaitet (KIP), Mutuntuki (MER), Chebakwa (SEB), Muhaa (TAV), Dundu, Shawa (TAI). Wood soft, white, fibrous, suitable for paper pulp.

Neoboutonia macrocalyx

Neoboutonia macrocalyx

Neoboutonia macrocalyx

2. Neoboutonia melleri (Müll. Arg.) Prain

Shrub or tree 3.5-9m, bark fairly smooth. Leaves broadly ovate or subcircular, base cordate, apex acute or obtuse, margin entire, 5-25 by 5-25cm, densely whitish-tomentose beneath; petiole 10-17cm. Inflorescences to 40 by 30cm with yellow-cream flowers. Fruits three-lobed, 5-8 by 8-13mm, stellate-pubescent.

K5; 1200-1650m; I-III *

Wet evergreen forest and riverbanks.

Opuh (LUO), Mubohu (LUH), Kipsebuet (NAN). Poisonous.

Neoboutonia melleri


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, stipulate (stipules deciduous), 3-5-nerved from base. Inflorescences terminal, racemose; petals 5.

Neoholstia tenuifolia Pax var. glabrata (Prain) Pax

Shrub 1.5-3m. Leaves thin, elliptic or ovate, base cuneate to subcordate, apex shortly acuminate, (margin rarely dentate-lobate), 6-16 by 3-9cm, slightly hairy on midrib and veins. Flowers white, in spike-like racemes 13-25cm (male) or less than 6cm long (female); flowers about 2mm. Fruit 4 by 5mm, 3-lobed.

K7 (Pangani, Kambe rocks); about 80m; VI-VII *

Forest on limestone.

Neoholstia tenuifolia


Dioecious. Leaves usually opposite, less often alternate, digitately compound. Inflorescences axillary; petals absent.

Oldfieldia somalensis (Chiov.) Milne-Redh.

Tree 6-23m; bark grey, slightly longitudinally fissured. Leaves with 5-7 leaflets, these 5-15 by 1.5-4cm, sparsely pubescent. Flowers yellow-white, in short, few-flowered cymes; sepals 1mm (male) or 5-12mm (female). Fruit yellow, round, 15-20mm.

K1/7,7; 1-450m; I, V *

Dry forest or bush/woodland.

Mbauri, Mbambara (SWA, BON), Mbirandu (GIR), Bora (SAN). The bark decoction is bitter and poisonous, and is used against pneumonia. The wood is hard, and used in door frames and construction.

Oldfieldia somalensis

Oldfieldia somalensis


Monoecious or dioecious. Leaves usually on specialized branchlets of limited growth, resembling pinnate leaves and subtended by scale leaves. Flowers unisexual, in axillary fascicles; sepals 4-6. Fruit a berry or dry capsule.

Note: FTEA states that P. nummularifolius and P. odontadenius are occasionally larger than 1.5m. I think this originates in highly doubtful specimen labels, and I have omitted these species.

1. Plants with only scale leaves on main stem; normal leaves on short branchlets resembling pinnate leaves 2

* Plants with normal leaves on main stem as well as on branches 13. P. welwitschianus

2. Leafy branches emerging from scaly cushions, or scandent plant 3


* Scaly cushions absent or inconspicuous 4

3. Leaf apex acute or acuminate; fruit 20-28mm across; Shimba Hills 1. P. delpyanus

* Leaf apex obtuse or rounded; fruit 3-4mm across; widespread 7. P. ovalifolius

4. Spines present, more than 2mm long; flowers in racemes from older wood 5

* Spines absent or minute; flowers in fascicles among the leaves 6

5. Sepals about 1mm long; fruit 3-4mm across 6. P. muelleranus

* Sepals 1.5-2mm long; fruit 20-30mm across, inflated 4. P. inflatus

6. Leafy branches usually less than 10cm long 7

* Leafy branches usually more than 12cm long 12

7. Leafy branches 1-3cm long; leaves 4-11 by 3-7mm (coastal Brachystegia woodland) 5. P. kaessneri

* Leafy branches more than 5cm long; leaves usually larger 8

8. Flower pedicels 1-4mm long 9

* At least some pedicels 5-10mm long 10

9. Leaves 10-30 by 7-20mm; sepals with yellow margins; fruit smooth 2. P. fischeri

* Leaves 6-15 by 4-11mm; sepals with green margins; fruit slightly rough 11. P. sepialis

10. Coastal/Northeastern species, below 600m; fruit more than 3mm across 11

* Inland species, above 900m; fruit about 1.5mm across 3. P. fluminis-athi

11. In coastal bushland near the sea; fruit 8-10mm across 8. P. pinnatus

* Around waterholes and pans, or riverine; fruit 3-5mm across 12. P. somalensis

12. Flower pedicels less than 4mm long; sepals 1-1.3mm 9. P. reticulatus

* Flower pedicels more than 4mm and up to 15mm long; sepals 1.5-3mm 13

13. In Shimba/Taita Hills (remnant) forest patches; leaves ovate/elliptic 10. P. sacleuxii

* In dry bushland areas near water, leaves elliptic/obovate 12. P. somalensis

1. Phyllanthus delpyanus Hutch.

[P. beillei Hutch., P. engleri of list]

Shrub or tree 2-4.5m. Dioecious. Leafy branchlets from scaly cushions; scales becoming spiny. Leaves elliptic or ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex acute or slightly acuminate, 2-5 by 1-3cm, glabrous. Flowers white, in axillary fascicles; sepals 1.5-2mm. Fruit round, 3-lobed, 20-28mm.

K7; 50-450m; III *

Buda, Pangani, Mrima and Shimba Hills forest.

Mkuta manena (DIG). A root decoction is employed against STD by the Digo

2. Phyllanthus fischeri Pax

Shrub 0.5-3m, sometimes scrambling. Monoecious or dioecious. Leaves elliptic, base rounded or slightly cuneate, apex obtuse or rounded, 1-3 by 0.7-2cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green or greenish white, in few-flowered fascicles; sepals 1.5-2mm. Fruit about 1.8 by 2.5mm.

K123456; 1450-2700m; I-XII (X-XII)

Dry upland forest margins and clearings, also in riverine forest or -woodland.

Olderis (MAA), Segetetiete (NAN, KIP), Koka po cheporon (PKT). A fruit decoction is employed against roundworm by the Nandi.

Phyllanthus fischeri

3. Phyllanthus fluminis-athi Radc.-Sm.

(Phyllanthus sp. B of UKWF)

Shrub to 2.5m, monoecious. Leaves ovate-elliptic, base rounded, apex obtuse or rounded, 1-2.5 by 0.5-1.5cm, glabrous. Flowers green, solitary, long-stalked; sepals 1.5-2mm long. Fruit purplish, round, about 1.5mm.

K4; 900-1450m; I, XI *

Riverine bush at Fourteen Falls and near Kibwezi.

4. Phyllanthus inflatus Hutch. Tree (less often a shrub) 2-9m; monoecious; spines 2-3mm long, at base of leafy branchlets. Leaves elliptic, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse or acute, 3-5 by 1-2cm, glabrous. Flowers green, in 2-5cm long racemes on older wood; sepals 1.5-2mm. Fruit green, inflated, subglobose, 2-3cm long.

K45; 1200-1650m; VII *

Moist forest or riverine forest (Kakamega, Kuja river, Nyambeni Hills).

5. Phyllanthus kaessneri Hutch.

Shrub to 1.5m, monoecious. Leaves broadly (ob-) ovate or almost round, base rounded, apex rounded, 0.4-1.1 by 0.3-0.7cm, glabrous (var. kaessneri) or pilose (var. polycytotrichus). Flowers cream, hanging, 1-2 per axil; sepals about 0.6mm. Fruit 1.5-2mm across.

K7; 1-400m; V, VIII, XI *

Brachystegia woodland or open forest (between Marafa and Kilifi, and at Mwachi, Maluganji, Mrima). Kacharare (GIR). Used in cough mixtures by the Giriama.

6. Phyllanthus muelleranus (O. Kuntze) Exell

Shrub or tree 2.5-5(12)m, monoecious; spines 2-5mm, in pairs at base of leafy shoots. Leaves elliptic-ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex obtuse or subacute, 3-7 by 2-3.5cm, glabrous. Flowers greenish cream, in 2-6cm long racemes from older wood; sepals about 1mm. Fruit 3-4mm across, reddish or black.

K5; 1250-1500m; - *

Riverine forest at Broderick Falls and Mumias.

Mkasiri, Mkumbu (SWA), Katore (GIR).

Note: All specimens cited in KTS are P. reticulatus.

7. Phyllanthus ovalifolius Forssk.

(P. guineensis Pax, P. lalambensis Schweinf.)

Shrub, tree or scrambler 0.5-6m. Monoecious (rarely dioecious). Leafy branchlets from scaly cushions; leaves elliptic, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse or rounded, 0.7-2.3 by 0.4-1cm, glabrous. Flowers cream fading to pink, in axillary clusters; sepals 1.3-1.5mm. Fruit blue or purple, 3-4mm across.

K134567; 100-350m (coast) and 1350-2450m; I-II, IV, VI-XII

Riverine bushland and secondary bush in forest.

Motya-bo (ILW), Mukarara (KIK), Makwachit (KIP), Anyidhra (LUO), Tusuandet (TUG).

Phyllanthus ovalifolius

Phyllanthus ovalifolius

Phyllanthus ovalifolius

8. Phyllanthus pinnatus (Wt.) Webster

(P. kirkianus Müll. Arg.)

Shrub 1.5-3m. Dioecious. Leaves elliptic or (ob) ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex rounded, 1.5-3 by 0.7-2cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in dense fascicles on older (usually leafless) twigs; sepals 1-1.5mm. Fruit 4-5 by 8-10mm.

K1/7,7; 1-30m; I, III-IV, X-XI *

Coastal closed-canopy bushland near the sea.

Mukwamba-galana (GIR).

Phyllanthus pinnatus

9. Phyllanthus reticulatus Poir.

(P. muellaranus sensu KTS)

Shrub or tree 1-4.5m; monoecious. Stems with tiny prickles near old branch scars. Leaves elliptic or (ob-) ovate, base rounded, apex obtuse or rounded, 1-3 by 0.7-2cm, glabrous. Flowers greenish-cream to red, in fascicles or in racemes; sepals 1-1.3mm. Fruit blue or blue-black, 3-7mm across.

K123457; 1-1000m; I-II, IV, VII-XII.

Inland in riverine bush, -woodland or -forest; on the west coast in Hyphaene woodland or in bushland close to the sea.

Mkasiri (SWA, GIR), Mkwamba (DIG), Echekerena (TUR). The bark contains tannin. Turkana use the twigs as toothbrushes.

Phyllanthus reticulatus

10. Phyllanthus sacleuxii Radc.-Sm.

(P. taitensis & P. mittenianus sensu KTS) RARE

Shrub 1-2.5m; monoecious. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex acute or obtuse, 2-6 by 1-3.5cm, glabrous. Flowers greenish cream, few in axillary groups (long-stalked); sepals 2-3mm. Fruit brown, about 3.5mm across.

K7; 300-400m (Shimba Hills) and 1100-1350m (Taita and Sagalla Hills); III-V *

Remnant forest patches.

11. Phyllanthus sepialis Müll. Arg.

(P. meruensis Pax)

Shrub 1-3m, dioecious. Leaves elliptic or slightly obovate, base rounded or cuneate, apex rounded to subacute, 0.6-1.5 by 0.4-1.1 cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, few in axillary groups; sepals about 1mm. Fruit 2-2.5mm across.

K123467; 600-1950m; I-XII (V-VI, XI)

Riverine woodland or -bushland; less often in dry bushland, semi-evergreen bushland, or dry forest. May be locally common on black cotton soils.

Iri-Waseso (BOR), Mwelanganga (KAM), Minyeywet Ap Osnet (KIP), Lobereti, Enkere-Sampel (MAA), Anyighira (LUO). Used in building and for firewood.

Phyllanthus sepialis

12. Phyllanthus somalensis Hutch.

Shrub 1-3m; monoecious. Leaves elliptic to obovate, base obtuse or rounded, apex rounded to subacute, 1.5-4 by 1-3cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in axillary fascicles; sepals 1.5-2.5mm. Fruit 3-5mm across.

K17; 50-600m; I, V-VI, IX, XII *

Forming pure stands near waterholes and temporary pools in dry bushland; also riverine.

Dirrewarsessa (BOR), Mpesi (DIG), Kormoto (ILW), Komorto (ORM), Kamasha, Wachab (SOM). The leaves are poisonous to stock.

Phyllanthus somalensis

13. Phyllanthus welwitschianus Müll. Arg.

var. beillei (Hutch.) Radc.-Sm.

(P. stolzianus Pax & K. Hoffm.)

Shrub 1-3m. Dioecious. Leaves oblong-elliptic, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse or rounded, 2-5.5 by 1-2.5cm, glabrous. Flowers cream or yellow-green, few in axillary fascicles; sepals 2-3mm. Fruit yellow or reddish, 6-8mm across, 3-lobed.

K7; 1-400m; V, VIII, XI *

Brachystegia woodland (Arabuko-Sokoke, Mangea and Marafa).

Mkamba-Vitu (SWA), Mwama Ngira (GIR).


Monoecious. Leaves alternate, clustered at tips of branches. Inflorescence axillary, racemose; stamens many; female flowers solitary at top of raceme. Petals absent.

Pycnocoma littoralis Pax

Shrub or tree 1-10m. Leaves elliptic or somewhat obovate, base cuneate, apex obtuse, margins inconspicuously crenulate, 7-20 by 3-9cm, glabrous, minutely glandular. Flowers white, in quite thick racemes; sepals 3-6mm. Fruit 2-4cm long, 3-4cm across, 6-winged when young, 6-horned or -angular when mature, velvety.

K7; 1-150m; VI, X-XII (VI)

On coral and sand near the sea, and at Maluganji.

Mtamboo-Mwitu, Mngambo-Mwitu (SWA).

Pycnocoma littoralis

Pycnocoma littoralis


Dioecious. Leaves alternate, digitately compound with 3-7 leaflets. Inflorescences paniculate; petals 5. Fruit indehiscent.

Ricinodendron heudelotii (Baill.) Pierre

ssp. africanum (Müll. Arg.) J. Léon.

var. tomentellum (Hutch. & E.A. Bruce) Radc.-Sm.

[R. tomentellum Hutch. & E.A. Bruce]

Tree 30-40m, deciduous; bark pale grey-brown, smooth. Leaflets with long-acuminate apex, glandular-toothed, 10-30 by 5-15cm, stellate-tomentose beneath. Flowers white, in 15-30 (male) or 6-10 (female)cm long panicles; petals 5-6mm long. Fruit 2-or 3-lobed, 4-5cm across.

K7; 100-450m; III *

Semi-deciduous forest: Shimba Hills, Rabai, Dzombo. Erimado, Musodo (STAND), Muawa (SWA). Wood soft.

Ricinodendron heudelotii (Baill.) Pierre ex Pax - 1: male flower × 3. 2: male flower showing disc glands erect (stamens removed). 3: stamen × 4. 4: male flower with corolla and calyx removed × 2. 5: female flower × 2. 6: ovary × 3½ (often only two loculi developed, fide Kennedy). 7: cross section of ovary × 3½. 8: stellate hair × 40. 9: fruit after Hutchinson, F.W.T.A. vol. 1. 10: part of leaf showing glands.


Monoecious. Leaves alternate, peltate, palmately lobed. Inflorescences paniculate, the male flowers below, the female flowers above. Petals absent; stamens many.

Ricinus communis L.

Woody herb 1-5m, with hollow stems. Leaves 7-9-lobed, with glandular-serrate margins, up to 1m across. Flowers reddish or purplish green, in 10-30cm long panicles; sepals 5-8mm long. Fruit 3-lobed, 10-18mm across, densely bristly.

K1234567; 500-2100m; I, V-VIII, X

In a wide variety of habitats, from bushed grassland to rainforest; often ruderal.

The castor-oil plant. Kobor (BOR), Mobonu (ILW), Kivunu (KAM), Mwariki (KIK), Menuet (KIP), Mubonebone (LUH), Oldule (MAA), Manwa (MAR), Mwariki (MER), Koboo (ORM), Pondon (PKT), Fololo (REN), Gitkalat (SOM). The oil (castor oil) is emetic. Kikuyu use a root decoction to help drive out the afterbirth. Seeds poisonous?

Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis


Monoecious. White latex present. Leaves alternate. Inflorescence spicate, with female flowers at the base. Petals absent.

1. Upland species; ovary and fruit 2-locular 1. S. ellipticum

* Coastal species; ovary and fruit 3-locular 2. S. triloculare

1. Sapium ellipticum (Krauss) Pax

Tree 4-20m, evergreen, with drooping branches. Bark greybrown, corrugated. Leaves (turning red before falling) elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex obtuse to acuminate, margins crenate-serrate, 5-15 by 2-6cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers yellow-green, in (sub) terminal spikes to 12cm long; sepals 0.7-1.5mm. Fruit purple to black, 2(-3)-lobed, 6-8 by 8-11mm.

K13456; 1000-2100m; I-VIII, X-XII

Riverine forest, moist and dry forests (in dry forests usually near water).

Muhathi, Muthathi (KIK), Amoyo, Achaka (LUO), Mugoso (LUH), Mseset (NAN), Ngereni (SAM). Wood white, not durable, liable to borer attack.

Sapium ellipticum

Sapium ellipticum

2. Sapium triloculare Pax & K. Hoffm.

Very similar to S. ellipticum in appearance.

K7: Pangani rocks, in remnant forest, Luke & Robertson 1935; alt. 150m; a recent discovery.


Monoecious. Leaves alternate. Flowers axillary, fasciculate; sepals & petals 5.

Savia fadenii Radc.-Sm. ENDANGERED

Shrub 2-3m. Leaves ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate, 3-6.5 by 1.4-4cm, glabrous. Flowers white with red lines, axillary; petals 1.5-2mm. Fruit about 8 by 10mm, 3-lobed.

K7; 1-500m; I, IV *

Forest on limestone (Pangani, Cha Simba, Gandi, Marenji, Mwachi, Rabai, Mangea).

Savia fadenii


Monoecious or dioecious. Milky latex present. Leaves alternate, with glands at petiole apex. Inflorescences axillary; sepals 3-5, petals 0.

1. Petiole 4-10 (-17)mm long; flower spikes 1-2.5cm long 1. S. Africana

* Petiole 10-25mm long; flower spikes to 7cm long 2. S. venenifera

1. Spirostachys africana Sond.

Tree 8-14m; bark smooth or corrugated. Leaves elliptic or slightly ovate, base rounded or cuneate, apex bluntly acuminate, margin crenate-serrate, 4-7 by 1.5-3.5cm, glabrous. Flowers in dense solitary red-brown ‘catkins’; sepals less than 1mm. Fruit yellowish, about 7 by 12mm, 3-lobed.

K7; 1-900m; I, VIII *

Riverine or in semi-evergreen bushland.

Tambootie (TRADE), Msarakana (SWA, DUR), Mtolo (PKM). The heartwood is heavy, fragrant and handsome.

Spirostachys africana

2. Spirostachys venenifera (Pax) Pax

(Excoecaria venenifera Pax)

Tree 4.5-12m, with pendulous branches. Bark smooth or reticulately fissured, dark grey. Leaves resembling those of S. africana, 5-12 by 2-6cm, glabrous. Flowers as in S. africana. Fruit green, 3-lobed, 4-7 by 7-9mm.

K147; 0-1450m; I, IV-V, VII-VIII, X-XII

Riverine; occasionally in mangrove.

Siricho (BOR), Mtanga (DUR), Mwacha (ILW), Wolkon (ORM), Haiyah-badad, Ayabedeo (SOM), Mtolo (PKM). The latex is poisonous and dangerous to the eyes; the wood is used for doorframes and ceiling beams.

Spirostachys venenifera

Spirostachys venenifera


Monoecious (S. zanzibariensis) or dioecious (S. procera). Leaves alternate. Inflorescence leaf-opposed, cymose; sepals 5-6, petals 0.

1. Leaf apex obtuse; inland species 1. S. Procera

* Leaf apex acute; coast province 2. S. zanzibariensis

1. Suregada procera (Prain) Croizat

Tree (rarely shrub) 4.5-18m. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate and often slightly unequal, apex obtuse, margins entire to crenate-serrate, 4-12 by 2-5cm, glabrous. Flowers yellow-green, in small subssile cymes; sepals about 3mm. Fruit green, 3-lobed, 8-11 by 10-13mm.

K45; 1450-1800m; I, III-IV, XI-XII *

Dry evergreen forest or riverine forest.

Mutumbi, Munyenye (KIK), Ruadet (KIP), Ochod-Oboke (LUO), Ol-Durdien (MAA), Mtansu, Mchanja (MER).

Suregada procera

Suregada procera

2. Suregada zanzibariensis Baill.

Shrub or tree 1-6m; bark smooth, grey. Leaves glossy, elliptic or slightly obovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex acute or shortly acuminate, margin entire or serrate, 5-10 by 2-6cm, glabrous, with translucent pustules. Flowers greenish white, in susessile clusters; sepals 1.5-3mm. Fruit green to orange, 5-6 by 6-8mm, dehiscing to show the orange seeds.

K7; 1-1250m; III-VI, VIII-IX, XI-XII (VIII)

Open forest, Brachystegia woodland, evergreen bush-land (e.g. near the sea).

Mdimu-Mwitu (SWA), Balmut (BON), Mchungwa Koma (DIG), Mdimu-Tsaka (GIR).

Suregada zanzibariensis


Plants with fleshy stems; latex present. Leaves alternate, fleshy. Inflorescence axillary, cymose. Flowers as in Euphorbia.

1. Leaves pubescent 3. S. molle

* Leaves glabrous or nearly so 2

2. Midrib keeled beneath 3

* Midrib rounded beneath 4

3. Coastal species; glandular rim of involucre yellow 4. S. pereskiifolium

* Inland species; glandular rim red 1. S. compactum

4. Inflorescence of 2-5 cymes, these 2-6-forked 2. S. grantii

* Inflorescence of 2-4 cymes, these with solitary cyathea or once forked 5. S. volkensii

1. Synadenium compactum N.E. Br. RARE

Shrub or tree 2-7m. Leaves elliptic or obovate, base cuneate, apex apiculate, margins finely serrate, 6-18 by 3-9cm, glabrous; midrib keeled beneath. Flowers reddish-purple, in short cymes. Fruit about 7.5 by 7.5mm, pubescent.

K3467; 700-1850m; II, IV-V *

Riverine or in rocky sites.

Kyatha (KAM, EMB), Watha (KIK). The latex is very poisonous.

Synadenium compactum

Synadenium compactum

2. Synadenium grantii Hook.f.

Shrub or tree 2-10m. Leaves elliptic or obovate, base cuneate, apex apiculate, margins finely serrate or entire, 6-15 by 2-6cm, glabrous. Flowers red, in open dichotomous cymes. Fruit red, about 7 by 8mm, pubescent.

K456; 1150-2100m; V-VI, VIII, X *

Dry forest, riverine, on rocky hills, in secondary bush. Masheget (KIP), Olgurobobi, Olgorbobi (MAA). The latex is poisonous.

Synadenium grantii

3. Synadenium molle Pax

Shrub or tree 3-9m. Leaves obovate, base cuneate, apex apiculate, margin finely serrate, 5-17 by 2-7cm, finely pubescent. Flowers greenish-red, in dichotomous cymes. Fruit about 10 by 10mm, pubescent.

K47; 900-1250m; V*

Rocky bushland (Mutomo, Mwatate, Kibwezi).

4. Synadenium pereskiifolium (Baill.) Guill.

(S. glaucescens sensu KTS)

Shrub or tree 2-5m. Leaves obovate, base cuneate, apex apiculate, margins entire, 7-19 by 3.5-9cm, glabrous; midrib keeled beneath. Flowers yellow-green, in long dichotomous cymes. Fruit about 7 by 7mm, pubescent.

K7; 1-500m; VIII, XI*

Coastal/reiverine woodland

Kinyunyu (SWA), Tupa (DIG), Tiha (GIR), Kyatha (KAM). Used as a fish poison.

Synadenium pereskiifolium

5. Synadenium volkensii Pax

Tree to 18m. Leaves obovate, with minutely serrate margin, to 16 by 8cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers yellow-green, in open inflorescences. Fruit about 7 by 8mm, densely pubescent.

K6; collected once on the footslopes of Kilimanjaro, in deciduous thicket.


Dioecious. Leaves alternate. Inflorescences axillary, racemose; sepals 5, petals absent.

Thecacoris usambarensis Verdc. ENDANGERED

Shrub 1.5-4m. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate, apex shortly and bluntly acuminate, 5-11 by 3-5.5cm, glabrous or sparsely hairy beneath. Flowers yellow-green, in dense spike-like racemes; sepals about 1 mm long. Fruit 3-lobed, 3.5 by 7mm.

K7; 100-200m; VIII-IX*

Limestone cleft (Cha Simba, Chonyi, Rabai, Mitunguni).

Thecacoris usambarensis


Monoecious. Leaves alternate, with large persistent stipules. Flowers solitary or in fascicles; sepals 5, petals absent.

Zimmermannia ovata E.A. Bruce VULNERABLE

Shrub or tree 1-5m. Stipules leafy, 7-12 by 7-12mm. Leaves ovate, base rounded, apex acute, 3-8 by 2-5cm, glabrous. Flowers pale green, with a large orange-yellow disk; sepals 6-13 by 5-10mm. Fruit 3-lobed, 7-9 by 11-13mm.

K7; 1350-1800m; IV-V*

Endemic to the drier parts of Ngangao Forest, Taita Hills.

Zimmermannia ovata