East Africa is rightly famous for its wildlife, and visitors from all over the world come to watch the spectacular wildlife and avifauna. But on arrival in either of the capitals and cities, a pleasant bonus looms — the sight of beautiful flowering trees, shrubs and other plants. Colourful bougainvillea line the highways; jacaranda and African tulip trees blossom; and both indigenous and exotic plants provide a riot of colour throughout, radiating a revitalizing scent like no other.
No one really knows how many species of flowering plant occur in East Africa. The region’s flora is however particularly interesting because of the wide range of ecological and climatic conditions encountered. The two major factors governing distribution and growth are rainfall and altitude, and recognition of plants can often be assisted by a knowledge of the zones in which they are likely to be found. Many of the brightly-coloured, orange and red flowers in East Africa, such as the Aloes, Leonotis, and most of the Loranthaceae are particularly attractive to birds such as the Sunbirds which are able to distinguish these colours. Many East African plants also have an unusually generous supply of nectar compared with those of the more temperate areas such as Europe and North America, and support an above-average population of bees. However, enthusiastic plant and flower lovers have sometimes been guilty of indiscriminate and unwise uprooting and collecting, which has done considerable damage to some species like orchids and cycads. Deforestation, attempt at moving plants and other human activities continue to hurt the flower ecosystem. Many of the more rare and beautiful plants will not easily tolerate or accept a change in environment or soil conditions. They die. Far better to leave them where they have chosen to develop on their own so that everyone visiting or seeing the area can also enjoy.