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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
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View the documentFlacourtiaceae (incl. Samydaceae) - Kei-apple family
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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
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View the documentCombretaceae - Combretum family
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View the documentGuttiferae (including Hypericaceae) - Garcinia family
View the documentTiliaceae - Jute family
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View the documentDichapetalaceae (including Chailletiaceae)
View the documentCaesalpiniaceae - Cassia family
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View the documentHamamelidiceae
View the documentBuxaceae - Box family
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View the documentBalanitaceae - Desert date family
View the documentBurseraceae - Myrrh family
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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
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View the documentAsclepiadaceae - Milkweed family
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View the documentCompositae - Sunflower family
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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
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View the documentVerbenaceae - Teak family
View the documentCyclocheilaceae
View the documentLabiatae/Lamiaceae - Mint, basil family

Loganiaceae - Strychnos family

Leaves opposite or in threes/fours. Inflorescence cymose. Flowers 4-5-merous. Fruit a capsule or a berry.

1. Leaves over 15cm long; corolla lobes 8-16; fruit a hard berry 3-4.2cm long 1. Anthocleista

* Leaves usually smaller; corolla lobes 4-5; fruit either a capsule or less than 1 cm long 2

2. Leaves usually 3-nerved from base; fruit a berry > 1cm 5. Strychos

* Leaves not 3-nerved; fruit a capsule < 1cm 3

3. Flowers 5-merous; fruit 2-lobed 3. Mostuea

* Flowers 4-merous; fruit not lobed 4

4. Leaves opposite, whitish- or yellowish-tomentose beneath 2. Buddleia

* Leaves either sparsely hairy, or in threes 4. Nuxia


Leaves opposite. Sepals 4, corolla lobes 8-16; stamens exserted. Fruit a hard berry.

1. Branches unarmed; corolla tube 22-37mm long 1. A. grandiflora

* Branches spiny; corolla tube 12-18mm long 2. A. vogelii

1. Anthocleista grandiflora Gilg (A. zambesiaca Bak.)

Tree 10-25m; bark brown-grey. Leaves narrowly obovate, base narrowing but clasping at the stem, apex rounded, 20-70 by 10-25cm (in saplings to 1.2m long), glabrous. Flowers cream or white, in erect terminal cymes to 45cm long; tube 22-37mm long, lobes 11-13 in number, 13-22mm long. Fruit green, ellipsoid, 30-42mm, wrinkled when dry.

K34567; 1250-2200m; I-II, IV, IX *

Along rivers in forest areas, in swamp edges. Cabbage tree (STAND), Mutunguru (KIK), Masombobet, Sagalituet (KIP), Mutete (MER). Wood perishable.

Anthocleista zambesiaca Baker - a: leaf (× ½). b: branchlet with a bud and young fruits (×½). c: bud (× 1). d: flower (× ½). e: gynoecium (× 1). - a: from Drummond & Hemsley 1672; b: from Battiscombe 1301; c & e: from Verdcourt 225; d: from Semsei 1510.

Anthocleista grandiflora

2. Anthocleista vogelii Planch.

Tree, 6-20m. Branches spiny near the nodes. Leaves obovate, base attenuate but the extreme base clasping, apex rounded, 15-45 by 6-24cm (in saplings to 1.5m long), glabrous. Flowers cream or pale yellow, in terminal cymes to 50cm long; tube 12-18mm long, lobes 12-19mm long and 13-16 in number. Fruit green, round or ellipsoid, smooth.

K5; collected in 1950 in Kakamega Forest (Feltham EA 10290)

Along rivers in forest.

Cabbage tree (STAND), Mulemwe (LUH). Wood light, perishable.


(also spelled Buddleja) (by Stella Wattima)

Leaves opposite. Inflorescence paniculate, of compound racemes. Flowers 4-merous. Fruit a capsule. Seeds winged or tailed.

1. Leaf margin (at least partly) toothed 1. B. polystachya

* Leaf margin entire (Taita Hills) 2. B. pulchella

Buddleia polystachya

Buddleia polystachya

1. Buddleia polystachya Fres.

Shrub or tree to 6m, erect or straggling; bark pale brown. Leaves (narrowly) ovate or elliptic, base attenuate, apex acute, margins serrulate, 5-15 by 1-5cm, whitish or yellow-tomentose beneath. Flowers reddish orange with a paler tube, in compound racemes to 15cm long; corolla 4-6mm long. Fruit ellipsoid, about 5mm long.

K123456; 1000-2700m; I-XII (II, XII)

Montane forest and bushland. Muthimbari, Muchorowe, Ruti (KIK), Ol-biran (MAA), Musereti, Gelelwa (MAR), Chorenet (NAN), Choruet, Chorua (MAR, NAN), Pinet (NDO), Ngurangura (SAM).

2. Buddleia pulchella N.E. Br.

Straggling shrub to 4m; bark brown. Leaves ovate, base attenuate or rounded, apex acute to minutely apiculate, 2.5-7.5 by 1.5-2.5cm, yellow-tomentose beneath. Flowers orange, cream or whitish, in pyramidal compound racemes; corolla 5-11mm long. Fruit ellipsoid, 4.5-6mm long.

K7; 1600-2000m; VII *

Forest margins and montane bushland; in Kenya only at Ngangao forest. Ngombe (TAI).


Leaves opposite. Inflorescence axillary or terminal; flowers 5-merous. Fruit a capsule.

1. Sepals acute 1. M. brunonis

* Sepals obtuse 2. M. microphylla

1. Mostuea brunonis Didr.

[M. walleri Bak., M. brunonis Engl.]

Shrub 0.3-3m. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate, apex acute or obtuse and apiculate, 0.6-9 by 0.3-4cm, glabrous or sparsely hairy; domatia often present. Flowers white, yellow at the base of the tube, 1 -several together; tube 5-13mm long, lobes 3-5mm long. Fruit 2-lobed, 5-7mm long.

K7; 1-450(1450)m; II-IV, VIII-XII.

Forest, Brachystegia woodland or wood/bushland (Boni)

Mtandara (DIG).

A group with tiny leaves and densely hairy fruits has been separated as var. obcordata Leeuwenberg.

Mostuea brunonis

Mostuea brunonis

2. Mostuea microphylla Gilg.

Shrub 1-1.5m. Leaves ovate, up to 3.5 by 2.3cm, rather hairy. Flowers white; corolla 4-8mm long.

K7; known from Rabai, Boni F.R. and Kitangani in Lamu; XII *

Edamojo (BON).


Leaves opposite, ternate or quaternate. Inflorescence terminal; flowers 4-merous. Fruit a capsule.

1. Leaves in threes or fours 2

* Leaves opposite 3

2. Petiole 3-20mm; calyx 3-8mm; corolla lobes hairy outside 1. N. congesta

* Petiole 3-55mm; calyx 2.5-4mm; corolla lobes almost glabrous outside 2. N. floribunda

3. Leaf apex acute or acuminate 2. N. floribunda

* Leaf apex rounded or obtuse 3. N. oppositifolia

1. Nuxia congesta Fres.

Shrub or tree 4.5-25m; trunk in larger trees fluted; bark pale greybrown, flaking. Leaves in threes (rarely in 4), (narrowly) elliptic or obovate, base cuneate, apex acuminate, obtuse or emarginate, margins entire or serrate (esp. when young), 1-15 by 2-7.5cm, glabrous to stellate-tomentose. Flowers white, in panicles to 15cm; corolla tube 3-8mm, lobes 2-5mm long. Fruit barely longer than the calyx.

K1234567; 1550-2850m; I-VIII, X-XII (XII-II, VII)

In light upland or montane forest, and there often common; also in the bamboo zone and on hilltops above the forest margin.

Muchorowe (STAND), Mukalaliki/mu'u (KAM), Muchorowe/Mwanda (KIK), Lubambo, Inoyna (LUH), Ol-burin (MAA), Chorua (MAR, NAN, KIP, SEB), Selta (POK), Murosuet (SEB), Kerruwa (TUG), Akwanga/Eonochorie (TUR), Mgaraso, mora (TAI). Branches used as firesticks; wood soft, white, used for building.

Nuxia congesta R. Br. ex Fresen. - a: flowering branchlet (× ½). b: flower (× 4). c: L.S. flower (× 4). - All from Bally 5583.

Nuxia congesta

2. Nuxia floribunda Benth.

Tree 6-24m; bark rough, grey. Leaves opposite or ternate, (narrowly) elliptic, base cuneate or attenuate, apex acuminate or acute, margins entire or dentate, 4-6 by 1-7cm, glabrous or sparsely glandular-hairy. Flowers white, in panicles to 30cm; tube 2.5-4mm; lobes about 2mm. Fruit longer than the calyx, 3-5mm long.

K467 (Taita Hills and Ngulia only); 1400-1800m; VII-VIII *

Forest (remnants).

Mora, Mwirigaso (TAI).

3. Nuxia oppositifolia (Hochst.) Benth.

Shrub or tree 4-9m. Leaves (sub) opposite, narrowly elliptic, base cuneate or decurrent, apex obtuse or rounded (and apiculate), 3-13 by 0.4-3 cm, glabrous or sparsely glandular-hairy. Flowers white or cream, in panicles to 7cm; tube 3.5-5mm; lobes 2-3mm long. Fruit as long as the calyx (3.5-5mm).

K12467; 700-2400m; I, IV, VI-VII, X, XII *

Riverine forest or -bush.

Leberondo (SAM), Mora (TAI). Wood hard.

Nuxia oppositifolia


Trees, shrubs or lianas climbing with curled tendrils. Spines occasionally present. Leaves opposite, rarely ternate; often with basal veins reaching well into the upper half of the leaf lamina. Inflorescence thyrsoid; flowers 4-5-merous. Fruit a berry.

1. Spines present 7

* Spines absent 2

2. Lianas with tendrils 3

* Shrubs or trees, without tendrils 5

3. Tendrils simple 12

* Tendrils paired 4

4. Inflorescences terminal and axillary; corolla 3.5-5mm long; fruit 0.8-1.8cm across 9. S. panganensis

* Inflorescences axillary; corolla 7-9.5mm long; fruit 3-6cm across 10. S. scheffleri

5. Inflorescence terminal (axillary infl. some times also present) 6

* Inflorescence axillary 9

6. Pistil hairy; fruit 6-15cm across 7

* Pistil glabrous; fruit 1-2cm across 8

7. Bark and branches corky; sepals (at least at top) glabrous 2. S. cocculoides

* Bark and branches not corky; sepals evenly pubescent 11. S. spinosa

8. Shrub or tree of bush - or woodland 3. S. decussata

* Forest tree 8. S. mitis

9. Pistil glabrous; fruit 1-2cm across 10

* Pistil hairy; fruit 2-8cm across 11

10. Leaf apex rounded or acute; branchlets glabrous 4. S. henningsii

* Leaf apex acuminate; branches (sparsely) pubescent 12. S. usambarensis

11. Inland species 5. S. innocua

* Coastal species 6. S. madagascariensis

12. Leaf apex acuminate; flowers in cymes 12. S. usambarensis

* Leaf apex obtuse and apiculate; flowers solitary 1. S. angolensis

Note: Inland forest trees are either henningsii (branches not lenticellate, rounded or acute leaf apex, petiole 1-3mm, leaves reticulate), mitis (branches not lenticellate, acuminate leaf apex, petiole 2-5mm, leaf not reticulate) or usambarensis (branches lenticellate, acuminate leaf apex). Of the last two, mitis is the larger.




A recent find is 7. S. mellodora, keying out at leads 10b with S. usambarensis, but with glabrous branches; and at lead 8b with S. mitis, but coastal.

1. Strychnos angolensis Gilg

Climbing shrub or liana to 30m, rarely a tree to 12m; bark smooth. Tendrils solitary. Leaves elliptic or obovate, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse and apiculate, 2-7 by 1-4cm, glabrous or pubescent on the veins. Flowers white to yellow, solitary, axillary or terminal; petals 2-2.5mm. Fruit orange or red, soft, ellipsoid or round, 12-22mm long.

K7, found once in Shimba Hills by R. Schmidt.

2. Strychnos cocculoides Bak.

Shrub or tree 1-6m; bark ridged, corky. Branches often with recurved stipular spines, sometimes ending in a straight spine. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate to rounded, apex rounded or bluntly acuminate, 2-6 by 1-5cm, pubescent or glabrous, often with domatia. Flowers white or greenish-yellow, in congested terminal panicles to 4cm; corolla 4-5mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, round, 6-11cm.

K7; 1-50m; - *

Wooded grassland; known from Mombasa and Kurawa.

3. Strychnos decussata (Pappe) Gilg.

Shrub or tree 3-5m; bark smooth, grey. Leaves shiny, elliptic or (ob) ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex rounded or obtuse, 2-5 by 0.8-3cm, glabrous. Flowers cream, in axillary or terminal cymes to 3cm; corolla 4-6mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, ellipsoid, 1.5-2cm long.

K47; 1-1100(1350??)m; IX-XII *

Dry bushland or woodland; often in rocky sites or on rock outcrops.

Musukari (ILW), Mutolongwe (KAM), Kitol (ORM), Msukari (PKM), Kitole (SOM). Fruit edible; wood hard.

Strychnos decussata

4. Strychnos henningsii Gilg

Shrub or tree 2.5-12 (rarely to 20)m; bark pale grey, rough. Leaves glossy, leathery, elliptic or ovate, base cuneate or rounded (subcordate), apex rounded or acute, 2-6 by 1-3(4.5)cm, glabrous. Flowers white, cream or yellow, in dense axillary cymes; corolla 3-4mm long. Fruit yellow, orange or red, ellipsoid, 1-2cm long.

K1234567; 1-150 (coast) and 850-2100m; I, V-VI, IX-XII.

Drier types of forest; often associated with olive or podo; also in riverine bush or thicket, and in evergreen thickets on rocky hills.

Kara, Karrah (BOR), Muteta (KAM, KIK), Mase, Legutuet (KIP), Olduyesi (MAA), Muchambe (MER), Chibulukwa (SAM), Hadesa (SOM), Turubupwa, Turkukwa (TUG), Yopoliss (TUR). A bark decoction is employed against rheumatism and arthritis.

Strychnos henningsii

Strychnos henningsii

5. Strychnos innocua Del.

Shrub or tree, 2- 12m; bark greybrown, rather smooth. Leaves elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex rounded, 4-10 by 2-7cm, glabrous or pubescent. Flowers cream, in axillary, few-flowered cymes; corolla 6.5-9mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, round, 4-7.5cm.

K2; known in Kenya from a single collection (J. Wilson 320, anno 1957) from a rocky outcrop at Karameri, near Karasuk. Fruit edible.

6. Strychnos madagascariensis Poir.

[S. innocua sensu KTS, S. dysophylla Benth.]

Shrub or tree, 2.5-12m, often with arching branches; bark pale grey, smooth or fissured. Leaves shiny, (broadly) elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex rounded (acute in shade branches), 2-10 by 1-4cm, glabrous or pubescent. Flowers greenish white or cream, in axillary few-flowered cymes; corolla 5-8mm long. Fruit orange, round, 2-8cm.

K7; 1-700m; IV, VI, XI-XII *

(Palm) woodland, wooded grassland, coastal thicket, thicket on rocky hills inland, dry forest margins.

Kikwaka, M(u)wakwa (SWA, DIG, GIR), Korie (BON). The fruit pulp is edible.

Strychnos madagascariensis

7. Strychnos mellodora S. Moore

Tree to 35m. Leaves (narrowly) elliptic, base cuneate, apex acuminate, 5-12 by 2-5cm, glabrous. Flowers white, in axillary and seemingly terminal panicles to 11 cm long; corolla to 3mm long. Fruit round or nearly so, 12-18mm.

K7; 350m; - *

Found once in Shimba Hills (R. Schmidt 1221)

8. Strychnos mitis S. Moore

Tree 6-18m; bark greybrown, smooth. Leaves glossy, elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate (rarely obtuse), 4-11 by 1.5-5cm, glabrous (rarely pubescent). Flowers cream or yellow, in axillary and terminal dense cymes; corolla 3.5-4mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, round, 1-2cm.

K13467; 1-1950m; I-II, V-VI, VIII *

Dry or riverine forest.

Karaa (BOR), Mutikani (KIK), Mase (KIP), Ol-duyesi (MAA), Itagurmut (SAM), Turukukwa (TUG). The wood is hard and used for building.

Note. Easily confused with Memecylon spp.

Strychnos mitis

9. Strychnos panganensis Gilg

Scandent shrub or liana 1.5-10m long; branchlets with paired tendrils. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate to cordate, apex acute or shortly acuminate, 0.8-5 by 0.6-3cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers (greenish) white or cream, in terminal and axillary rather long cymes; corolla 3.5-5mm long. Fruit yellow, (almost) round, 0.8-1.8cm.

K7; 1-300m; II-III, X-XII *

Coastal thickets, (Brachystegia) woodland, or dry forest.

Mbugu-bafe (SWA), Ria, Mbeyu (GIR), Libugu (DIG).

Strychnos panganensis

10. Strychnos scheffleri Bak.f.

Liana up to 20 (or more)m; branchlets with paired tendrils. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate, 4.5-10 by 1.7-6.5cm, glabrous or nearly so. Flowers white, in axillary, lax cymes to 6cm; corolla 7-9.5mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, round, 3-6cm.

K7; 50-450m; VI, VIII *

Moist (often disturbed) forest: Shimba Hills, Witu, Dzombo and Mrima.

11. Strychnos spinosa Lam.

Shrub or tree 3-6m; branches often with pairs of straight or recurved spines. Leaves elliptic or (ob-)ovate, base cuneate or rounded, apex rounded to acyte (acuminate), 2-10 by 1.5-7.5cm, glabrous or pubescent. Flowers pale green, or whitish, in terminal cymes to 3cm; petals 4-5mm long. Fruit yellow, round, resembling an orange, 7-15cm.

K347; 1-1550m; MI, IV, VII-VIII, X-XII *

Inland in wooded grassland; on the coast in woodland, bushland, thicket, or dry forest margin.

Mtonga (SWA), Mangula (BON), Muhonga (DIG), Majaji (GIR), Gime (KAM), Kukengo (PKT), Bungo (PKM). The wood is hard; the fruit pulp is said (by the Giriama) to cause abortion.

Strychnos spinosa

12. Strychnos usambarensis Gilg

Shrub or tree 1.5-6m (in other countries sometimes a liana to 20m with solitary tendrils); bark grey, smooth or granulated. Leaves ovate or elliptic, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate (to caudate), 3-8 by 1.2-3.5cm, glabrous. Flowers white of yellow, in axillary cymes to 2.5cm; corolla 2-3.5mm long. Fruit yellow or orange, round, 1-1.8cm.

K47; 1-300m (coastal) or 1300-1800m; III, XII *

Dry forest, evergreen thicket, riverine forest; also moist forest on Mrima Hill.

Gitarongui (KAM), Mutikani (KIK).

Strychnos usambarensis