Mexican Sunflower

Mexican Sunflower, Tithonia, photo © Michael Plagens

Large yellow-orange composite, but smaller than cultivated sunflower. Leaves variously three-lobed. Mostly herbaceous up to two meters tall. Garden favorite.

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a coreopsid sunflower photo © Michael Plagens

Composite with bright yellow notched rays, darker disc florets and few broad phyllaries. Common in crop fields after harvest.

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Aspilia #2

Aspilia sp. photo © Michael Plagens

Lower growing than previous, 3-5 dm. Leaves shorter, elliptic to triangular.

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Yellow Composite

Low-growing composite with yellow flowers, Nairobi, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Bright yellow rays are toothed at the tip. Plant growing prostrate thus avoiding grazing animals.

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African Bush Daisy

African Bush Daisy, Euryops chrysanthemoides, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Bright yellow rays and bright yellow disc florets. Leaves are deeply, pinnately cleft into lance-shaped segments. Grows as an evergreen suffrutescent shrub.

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Low-Growing Aster

low growing yellow aster photo © Michael Plagens

Under grazing pressure this one grows very close to ground. Two + series of phyllaries with very long, slender, reddish tips. Seeds with many white awns.

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Osteospermum, photo © Michael Plagens

Heads become pendulous as ray flower seeds enlarge and broad wings develops on the achenes.

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Fan-leaf #1

Asteraceae, photo © Michael Plagens

Small yellow composite from wooded area understory. Phyllaries smooth and nearly fused.

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Fan-leaf #2

Asteraceae, photo © Michael Plagens

Very similar to #1 but leaves and stems with fine hairs and the head is shaped differently. Taita Hills.

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Berkheya spekeana photo © Michael Plagens

Leaves and involucre with sharp prickles. Many, long, narrow, yellow ray flowers.

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Prickly Sow Thistle

sow thistle in highland areas of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Yellow heads of entirely strap-shaped florets. Heads closed up in this view. Leaves prickly and white sap from breaks.

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Purple Sow Thistle

herbsceous Asteraceae near Sonchus, Cichorioideae, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Plants about 30cm tall and entirely herbaceous. The slender heads appear to open only part way at the tip. The base of the leaves clasp the stem.

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Taraxacum species photo © Michael Plagens

Heads are composed entirely of yellow, strap-shaped floret. Leaves all basal. Seeds with plumose bristles.

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Composite Vine

vine or climbing shrub, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

The leaves with their recurved lobes serve as grappling hooks as the plant climbs over other plants vine-like. Heads yellow, rayless

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Giant Groundsel

Giant Groundsel,  Dendrosenecio, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Tree-size plants with large leaves found at higher elevation. Most conspicuous in high alpine areas. Old leaves and leaf-bases cloak the trunks.

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Yellow Cudweed

Gnaphalieae, Asteraceae from Machakos, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

The leaves and stems covered with cottony hairs. Heads yellow, rayless. Low herbaceous stems in cluster.

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Golden Everlasting

a ubiquitous aster weed in gardens of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

This Helichrysum (?) composite was found growing on the Elgeyo Escarpment near Iten, Kenya. The leaves and stems appear silvery white due to a cover of short pubescence. About 1½ m tall.

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Conyza stricta?

a unknown species of weedy aster in pastures of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Numerous small, cream/yellow heads clustered at top of mostly herbaceous plant. Disc flowers yellowish and short papery white ray flowers. Involucre pubescent.

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Conyza schimperi ?

composite with finely divided leaves and small cream discoid heads, photo © Michael Plagens

The gray-green leaves are dissected into nearly linear segments. The heads are small, densely clustered at top and have only discs florets.

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Conyza newii ?

Bright yellow fleabane, Conyza newii, in Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Numerous bright yellow ray-less heads. Lance shaped leaves are irregularly toothed. Suffrutescent.

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Goldenrod or Groundsel

A rayless composite with numerous small yellow heads, photo © Michael Plagens

Composite with yellow disc florets and no rays on many small heads. Smooth, elliptic leaves with distinct serrations.

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most likely Senecio sp, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Slender flower heads with one series of phyllaries. Bright yellow florets followed by seeds with white fluff tops. Mostly herbaceous, 1m tall.

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Senecio # 2

Senecio sp from Eldoret, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Herbaceous, weedy ragwort of moist soil. Rayless heads are enlarged below. Seeds with long, silky pappus.

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Malta Star Thistle

Malta Star Thistle, Centaura melitensis, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Yellow florets emerge from the top of the spherical head which is well-armed. Weed in grazing areas and farms.

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False Threadleaf

also called Dwarf Marigold, Schkuhria pinnata from Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Another import from the New World. Small yellow-orange heads on herbaceous weed with finely dissected leaves.

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Wild Lettuce

a weedy relative of lettuce, Lactuca sp., photo © Michael Plagens

Milky juice emerges from broken stems like farm lettuce. Pale yellow florets on tall wiry stems.

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Spanish Needles

Spanish Needles, Bidens pilosa photo © Michael Plagens

Composite with white rays and yellow disc florets. Seeds with two barbed spurs. Common non-native weed in gardens.

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Tarchonanthus (?)

Might be Tarchonanthus from Turbo, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Tree-sized member of sunflower family. Flowers white, in ray-less heads. Leaves elliptic and leathery.

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Coat Buttons

a cosmopolitan weed from Nairobi, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

This herbaceous plant in the Asteraceae was found growing in Nairobi. Short white rays, yellow disc and plumose hairs atop seeds.

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Stinking Roger

Tagetes minuta, an introduced weedy aster in pastures of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Tall slender heads with a few white rays and yellow discs. Leaves compound and with resin glands.

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Wavy-Leaf Fleabane

a ubiquitous aster weed in gardens of Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Composite with non-showy flowers in many small heads. Seeds soon shed with fuzzy top for wind dispersal. Soft hairs cover the leaves.

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an exotic invasive composite, Parthenium hysterophorus, photo © Michael Plagens

Numerous small convex heads of white florets set atop an herbaceous weed about 1 m tall.

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African Wormwood

Artemisia afra with many small pendulous heads, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Numerous small heads in pendulous spikes. Leaves pinnately lobed. Tall shrub. Flower infrequently, perhaps once per year.

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Laggera crispata, Inuleae, photo © Michael Plagens

Clusters of small pale lavender heads. Leaf blades continue down sides of stems making them look winged.

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Billy-Goat Weed

Billy-Goat Weed, Ageratum conyzoides, photo © Michael Plagens

Blue-violet heads of disc flowers. Leaves are deltoid with toothed margins. Common in gardens and hedgerows.

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Vernonia #1

Unknown Eupatorieae from Mombasa, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

This Vernonia-like composite was found in a fresh water marshy area near Mombasa. The flowers are pale lavender.

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Vernonia #3

a pale purple and white Vernona from South Nandi, Asteraceae, photo © Michael Plagens

All tubular flowers in heads are mostly white, tinged with purple. Broadly lanceolate to elliptic, serrated leaves. Mostly herbaceous.

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Vernonia #2

lavender-flowered composite observed at Iten, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Numerous, small heads of bright lavender-purple flowers are displayed in flat-topped panicles.

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Vernonia sp. photo © Michael Plagens

Large dia. heads with fine, white, bristle-topped seeds. Ridged stems. Rust-colored pubescence. Lance-shaped, serrated leaves.

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White Vernonia

a white-flowered Vernonia-like Asteraceae, photo © Michael Plagens

Shrubby, leafy plant about 1.5 meters tall. Numerous small white flower heads followed by abundance of comose seeds.

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very pubescent Vernonia from Eldoret, photo © Michael Plagens

Many branching shrub or perennial with purple, pubescent phyllaries. Tubular disc flowers are lavender. Leaves alternate, serrate.

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Eared Vernonia

Eared Vernonia, Gymnanthemum myrianthum, photo © Michael Plagens

Large shrub, occasionally tree-form with large clusters of purple/lavender flower heads. Leaf bases lobed. partly around the stem.

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Ironweed, Vernonia galamensis, photo © Michael Plagens

Nearly linear leaves are dark green and have a wrinkled texture. Seeds topped with light brown awns.

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Trailing Composite

prostrate trailing Asteraceae observed in Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

In an area of heavy grazing pressure this plant grows vine-like close to the ground.

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Spear Thistle

Spear Thistle, Cirsium vulgare, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

Sharp spines guard the leaves and flower heads. Flowers are showy lavender-purple. Weed in grazing areas and farms.

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Rosette Thistle

Rosette Thistle, Carduus chamaecephalus, Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

All leaves and even the large spiny flower heads grow close to the ground. The florets are pale lavender to purple. Seeds with long silky hairs.

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Globe Thistle

a Head of Heads, Sphaeranthus photo © Michael Plagens

Nearly spherical clusters of very small flower heads. Stems leafy wings. Ill-scented.

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Odorous Senecio

a succulent, malodorus, Senecioneae, photo © Michael Plagens

Forms thickets of green, succulent stems. Flowers are cream-yellow and produce seeds with long awn-plumes.

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Pink Ragwort

a pink-flowered ragwort, Senecioneae, photo © Michael Plagens

This weed with drooping flower heads is widespread in highland agricultural areas as near Kitale and Nandi. Seeds are topped with fine, capillary bristles.

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Orange Ragwort

a orange-flowered ragwort, Crassocephalum vitellinum, photo © Michael Plagens

The leaves, stems and inflorescence are all fairly well clothed in soft hairs. Herbaceous, about 1m tall, in moist, partial shade.

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Striking red-flowered composite observed in Kenya, photo © Michael Plagens

A single series of waxy-smooth phyllaries subtend the long, 5-lobed disc flowers. Partially succulent.

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Star Burrs

Star Burr, Acanthospermum, photo © Michael Plagens

Obscure, green-white flower heads give rise to clusters of burrs with hooked spines.

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Silver Oak

Silver Oak, Brachylaena huillensis, photo © Michael Plagens

Tall forest tree with leaves silvery below and clusters of many small cream-colored flower heads.

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Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 24 July 2012
updated 31 Jan. 2019.

Disclaimer: By no means am I an expert on the Natural History of Kenya. I am new to exploring this wonderful part of the World. By creating a page for the species as I learn, or even while I'm still unsure, them I am teaching myself. If I make errors I hope that a kind person will let me know so that I can make corrections.