A plant list for Rwanda

 

Planned. Planted. Established. Then neglected,
Till at last the loiterer by the gate will wonder
At the old, old cottage, the old wooden cottage,
And say ‘One might build here, the view is glorious;
This must have been a pretty garden once.’

Mary Ursula Bethell, from “Time

From September 2011 to December 2014, we lived in Kigali, Rwanda, where we had a large garden.

The list below includes many of the plants from this garden. I compiled it because I thought it would be useful for other expat gardeners from cold climates who now live in frost-free countries and need to identify unfamiliar annuals, perennials, and shrubs.

(Rwanda has remarkably wonderful weather, with daytime temperatures ranging from the 60s°F to mid 80s°F. There are two rainy seasons a year: February to May and September to December.)

The color headings below are for flower colors, unless a plant’s primary appeal is foliage — then it is placed under the primary color of the leaves.

The “More here” links go to my original posts on the plants or to other websites or blogs.  Click for photos or additional information about size, form, or care.

PERENNIALS (including BULBS, SUCCULENTS, and ORCHIDS)

Red

Heliconia rostrata or lobster claws.  Large dangling blooms, 6′-8′.  More here.

Epidendrum ibaguense.  Orchid.  More here.

Russelia equisetiformis.  More here.

Euphorbia Milii or crown of thorns.  Native to Madagascar.  More here.

Pink

Gerbera, probably G. jamesonii or Transvall daisy.  Native to South Africa.  More here.

Burgundy/Brick/Bronze

Justicia brandegeeana or shrimp plant.  Could be considered a small, loose shrub, 2′ – 4′, light brick with yellow/green and white tips, nearly year-round bloom.  More here.

Orange

Gerbera, probably G. jamesonii or Transvall daisy.  Native to South Africa.  More here.

Kniphofia uvaria or red-hot pokers.  More here.

Yellow

Rudbeckia laciniata or cutleaf coneflower — a double variety, possibly ‘Goldquelle,’ ‘Hortensia,’ or ‘Goldenglow.’  Native to eastern North America.  Nice large leaves, 3′-5′ tall.  More here.

Solidago or goldenrod, species unknown. Probably native to North American (a few Solidago species are native to South American and Eurasia).  More here and here.

Russelia equisetiformis lutea. Light yellow or cream.  More here.

Euphorbia Milii or crown of thorns.  Native to Madagascar.  Pale yellow blooms.  More here.

Oenothera missouriensis or Missouri primrose.  Annual, U.S. native.

Blue

Evolvulus ‘Blue Sapphire.’  Groundcover, 6″ – 12″.  More here and here.

Aster oolentangiensis or sky blue aster. U.S. native.

Purple/Violet

Datura stramonium or Jimson weed or Jamestown weed.  Native to North American.  More here.

Salvia leucantha or Mexican sage.  More here.

Chartreuse

White

Hymenocallis littoralis or beach spiderlilies.  Bulb, native to west coast of Florida, southern Mexico, and Central America.  More here.

Green

Callisia repens.  Low, succulent groundcover.  Underside of leaves are purplish, no flowers.  More here.

Pilea sp. or aluminum plant, artillery plant, angelwing, or friendship plant.  More here.

Pachypodium lamerei or Madagascar palm.  Native to Madagascar.  A stem succulent, it has not bloomed in our garden.  More here.

Cycas revoluta or sago palm.  Native to southern Japan.  More here and here.

Graptopetalum.  More here.

Kalanchoe (possibly mother of millions, K. daigremontiana), native to Madagascar.  More here.

SHRUBS and VINES

Red

Mussaenda erythrophylla or Ashanti blood or red flag blood or tropical dogwood.  Native to West Africa.  Woody vine to 30′, always in bloom, often confused with poinsettia.  More here.

Chenille plant.  More here.

Pink

Brugmansia or angel’s trumpet or datura.  Native to tropical South America.  Fragrant in evening, 6′ – 20′.  More here.

Clerodendron thomsoniae var. delectum or beauty bush.  Native to tropical West Africa, Cameroon to Senegal.  Vine, blooms are pink and light red.  More here and here.

Abutilon x hybridum or Chinese lantern bush or flowering maple.  Native to So. America.  Blooms in pale pink.  More here.

Abutilon x hybridum or Chinese lantern bush or flowering maple.  Native to So. America.  Blooms in pale peach.  More here.

Burgundy/Brick/Bronze

Orange

Mussaenda frondosa.  Native to Indo-China and Malaysia.  Orange and white bracts, 3′ – 10′.  More here.

Lantana camera or Spanish flag.

Yellow

Abutilon x hybridum or Chinese lantern bush or flowering maple.  Native to So. America.   More here.

Blue

Eranthemum nervosum (aka E. pulchellum) or blue sage or blue eranthemum.  Native to India.  Likes light shade, 4′ – 6′.  More here.

Purple/Violet

Brunfelsia latifolia (aka B. australis) or yesterday, today, tomorrow shrub.  Native to South America.  Very fragrant at night, full to part sun, blooms on old wood.  More here.

Chartreuse

White

Clerodendron thomsoniae or bleeding glory-bower or bleeding heart vine.  Native to tropical West Africa, Cameroon to Senegal.  Vine, white blooms are tipped in red, mine have variegated leaves with chartreuse.  More here.

Abutilon x hybridum or Chinese lantern bush or flowering maple.  Native to So. America.   More here.

Green

Ficus pumila or creeping fig.  Native to east Asia.  Suckering vine.  More here.

ANNUALS

Red

Pink

Apk15.  Celosia argentea or Lagos spinach.  About 5′, dark pink with green and burgundy leaves, which are edible.  More here.

Burgundy/Brick/Bronze

Orange

Yellow

Oenothera missouriensis or Missouri primrose.  An American native.

Blue

Purple/Violet

Chartreuse

White

Tanacetum parthenium or pyrethrum daisy or feverfew.  Clusters of small, daisy-shaped flowers.  More here.

Green

TREES

Punica granatum or pomegranate.  Small fruit tree native to modern-day Iran and Iraq.  More here.

Ravenalas madagascariensis or traveler’s palm.  Native to Madagascar.  Sole member to its genus.  More here and here.

Ficus benjamina or weeping fig.  Can be clipped when small.  I have both the solid green and the pale cream variegated leaf varieties.  More here and here.

Acacia tree.  More here.

5 thoughts on “A plant list for Rwanda

  1. Hello,
    We have two native plants from Rwanda in our home in Brussels. They are planted indoors in large pots. One of these is doing quite well, but the other is in a sad state and I want to rescue it before it dies. If I sent you a photo of the plants, would you be able to offer some advice on care?!
    Thanks!
    Aisling

      1. Hi Cindy, I sent you an email with two photos attached so that you can see what type of plant it is, and what state it’s in!
        Aisling

    1. I’m sorry for my delay in answering. The only information I have about it comes from the “Illustrated Field Guide to the Plants of Nyungwe National Park Rwanda” by Fischer and Killmann (which is an essential book for Rwanda; you can find it in Kigali bookstores and sometimes at Nyungwe Park).

      “Tree up to 10-35 m. tall. Leaves alternate, with petioles up to 8 cm. long. . . . Inflorescences terminal, all with numerous male and few female flowers. Flowers greenish-yellow, densely silvery lepidote. Fruite 3 cm. in diameter. Habitat and distribution: Montane rainforest, 2000 m. Western part of Nyungwe. East Africa south to Mozambique.”

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