Coral Bean

Red Hot Poker Tree, Erythrina abyssinica, photo © Michael Plagens

Small or medium sized tree with clumps of bright red tubular flowers, coral-colored beans and trifoliate leaves. Short curved thorns.

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Ambatch

Pith Tree, Aeschynomene elaphroxylon, photo © Michael Plagens

Large shrub or small tree. Twigs and branches with paired thorns. Twigs, leaves and seeds hirsute. Grows in wet soil. Pith Tree.

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Legume

a prostrate fabaceae herb, photo © Michael Plagens

I have not identified this prostrate bean with bright yellow-orange flowers. Found at 2000 m in agricultural area of the Rift Valley.

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Sesban

Egyptian Water-hemp, Sesbania sesban, photo © Michael Plagens

Woody plant of wet soil with yellow flowers and long, slender bean pods. Compound leaves with many small leaflets.

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Millettia

Millettia dura leaf photo © Michael Plagens

Pinnately compound leaves on a solid tree of woodlands. Flowers in purple clusters. Over-harvested for wood.

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Blackwood

Dalbergia melanoxylon photo © Michael Plagens

Tree with hard wood and a few spines. Small white flowers in clusters with vague pea-flower shape.

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Red Desmodium

Desmodium repandum photo © Michael Plagens

Vine-like plant that scrambles over other plants with large tri-foliate leaves and small red pea flowers.

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Silver-leaf Clover

Silver-Leaf Desmodium, photo © Michael Plagens

The bean pods are segmented and are covered with sticky, hooked hairs. Small, bright pink pea-flowers on intricately branched herb.

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Silver-leaf Clover

Silver-Leaf Desmodium, photo © Michael Plagens

Small, bright pink pea-flowers on intricately branched herb. Bean pods break into sticky one-seed segments.

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Clover

Trifolium africanum ?, photo © Michael Plagens

Compact spherical heads of small pea flowers on green, leafy forb. The leaves are conspicuously three-parted.

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Shamrock Pea

Shamrock Pea, Parochetus communis, photo © Michael Plagens

Herbaceous clover-like plant with trifoliate leaves and blue flowers. Montane areas.

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Wild Cow Pea

Wild Cow Pea, Vigna vexillata, photo © Michael Plagens

Vine with trifoliate leaves and large two-lipped pink or purple flower. The flowers appear twisted and cupped on one side.

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Vigna Bean

Vigna near racemosa, photo © Michael Plagens

Herbaceous, vine bean with trifoliate (3 leaflets) leaves and sky blue flowers.

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Vetch

Vicia species photo © Michael Plagens

Pink flowers on mostly herbaceous, viny plant. Leaf rachis extends beyond last leaflet pair and acts as a climbing tendril.

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Lupine

Lupine, possibly Lupinus princei, photo © Michael Plagens

Compound leaves are characteristic - leaflet arranged in a circular pattern. Herbaceous plant with blue pea flowers and turgid pods.

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Rattlepod

Crotalaria species photo © Michael Plagens

Bright yellow, closely packed flowers on an erect spike. Leaves with three leaflets. Fruit a turgid pod with beans inside that break loose and rattle when the pod is shaken.

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Slender-leaf Rattlebox

Rattlebox, Crotalaria ochroleuca, photo © Michael Plagens

Herbaceous plant with very narrow trifoliate leaflets. Inflated bean pods.

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Rattlebox #3

Rattlebox, Crotalaria sp, photo © Michael Plagens

Leaflets are in sets of three, but are broadly elliptical. Shrubby plant close to 2 m tall.

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Rattlebox #4

Crotolaria photo © Michael Plagens

The keel petal is very long and sickle-shaped. Inflated bean pods.

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Yellow Bauhinia

Yellow Orchid Tree, Bauhinia tomentosa, photo © Michael Plagens

Bright yellow, bilaterally symmetrical flowers have a maroon center. Woody shrub or small tree. Two-lobed leaves are distinctive.

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Mauritius Thorn

Cat's Claw, Caesalpinia decapetala, photo © Michael Plagens

Wickedly thorny shrubs prized as a barrier fence but also loathed as an invasive weed. Leaves twice compound.

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African Senna

African Senna, photo © Michael Plagens

Robust, largely herbaceous plant with spikes of bright yellow and brown pea flowers. Common at roadsides at mid elevations.

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Arsenic Bush

Senna septemtrionalis, photo © Michael Plagens

Robust shrub or even reach small tree size. Pinnate leaves are shiny green about 5 to 7 leaflets. Terrate pods turn black at maturity.

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Coffee Senna

Senna occidentalis photo © Michael Plagens

Bright yellow flowers on shrubby weed of pastures. Long slender bean pods. Compound leaves.

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Spectacular Cassia

Spectacular Cassia, Senna spectabilis, photo © Michael Plagens

Very large sprays of yellow flowers on small tree with compound leaves. Frequent ornamental around Nairobi.

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Siamese Cassia

Senna siamea, photo © Michael Plagens

Medium-sized tree with large clusters of yellow flowers is originally from s.e. Asia. Planted for fodder and shade. No thorns.

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White Gul Mohur

White Gul Mohur, Delonix elata, photo © Michael Plagens

Medium-sixed tree with twice-compound leaves and 5-petaled flowers with long, showy stamens. Seeds in flat, woody pods.

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Royal Poinciana

Royal Poinciana, Delonix regia, photo © Michael Plagens

Spectacular landscape tree when in flower. Double pinnate leaves. Long woody bean pods. Non-native.

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Weeping Boer-Bean

landscape tree, Schotia brachypetala, photo © Michael Plagens

Pinnate compound leaves, woody bean pods and flowers with short red petals. Non-native tree planted in Nairobi.

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Redwing

Pterolobium stellatum photo © Michael Plagens

Long, slender branches of this thorny plant grow up and over other plants. Bright red-pink seeds look like flowers or else maple seeds.

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Cryptosepalum

Cryptosepalum, photo © Michael Plagens

Groups of low woody stems from a below-ground crown. Flowers whitish. Pods flat, sickle-shaped.

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Silk Tree

Albizia amara ?, photo © Michael Plagens

Flowers in puff-ball clusters, white and pink in color. Leaves shiny dark green; twice compound with 2 to 4 pinnae. No thorns.

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Lahai

Red-thorn, Acacia lahai, photo © Michael Plagens

Tall acacia with twice-compound leaves with 2 to 3 dozen leaflets. Small white to cream flowers in spikate heads. Mid to higher elevations.

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Nyanga Flat-top

Flat-top Acacia, Acacia abyssinica, photo © Michael Plagens

An elegant flat-topped tree with reddish bark on older trees and peeling on younger trees.

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Fever Tree

Fever Tree photo © Michael Plagens

Tall savanna trees with distinctive yellow, green and brown bark. Leaves twice-compound. White thorns in pairs. Lots of resin oozes from injuries.

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Red Acacia

Acacia hockii/seyal, photo © Michael Plagens

Thorny acacia shrub or small tree common on overgrazed land. Pods are thin, flat and curved. Thorns gray or sparse.

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False Umbrella Thorn

False Umbrella Thorn, Vachellia reficiens, photo © Michael Plagens

The very sharp thorns are paired and sharply hooked. Small tree or large shrub. Pods thin. Leaves twice compound.

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Whistling Thorn

Whistling Thorn, Acacia drepanolobium, photo © Michael Plagens

Paired thorns on a greatly enlarged base that becomes very dark-colored and then inhabited by ants. Spherical clusters of small white flowers.

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Blackthorn

Blackthorn, Acacia mellifera, photo © Michael Plagens

Relatively few, large leaflets in double-compound leaves. Beans in flat, twisted pods. Short hooked spines. Usu. a shrub or rarely a small tree.

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Black Wattle

Black Wattle, Acacia mearnsii, photo © Michael Plagens

Fast growing tree native to Australia. Smooth dark bark. Small pale yellow to white flowers in ball. Seeds in bean pods.

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Mesquite

Mesquite, Prosopis juliflora, photo © Michael Plagens

With good intentions this tree from tropical America was introduced, but now it's an invasive menace.

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White Lead-tree

White Lead-tree, Leucaena leucocephala, photo © Michael Plagens

Thornless tree with small white flowers in spherical heads. Leaves are twice compound.

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Kenya Natural History

Michael J. Plagens, Page created 02 Feb 2012,
updated 14 July 2017.

By no means am I an expert on the Natural History of Kenya because I am a novice to exploring this part of the World. By creating a page for the species as I learn them I am teaching myself, sharing with others and happy to receive feedback from web site visitors.