Types of African Flowers


Africa contains thousands of species of exotic flowers, many of which have yet to be discovered, named and categorized. In South Africa's Namaqualand, native daises grow wild to cover vast fields with their brilliant orange blossoms. Tourists and botanists could spend their entire lifetimes exploring the vast world of flowering flora native to the African continent.

Devil's Thorn

  • Devil's thorn or Dicerocaryum zanguebarium are small herbaceous plants with trailing stems. The plant's trumpet-shaped flowers are pinkish to mauve with darker spots on the lower lip and inner petal surfaces. Devil's thorn grows wild in Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the northern province of South Africa. Devil's thorn prefers bare ground and does well in suboptimal soils. It also prevents soil erosion.

Starfish Flower

  • The starfish flower or Stapelia gigantea has the appearance and odor of a piece of rotting flesh in the shape of a starfish. The plant's stink attracts maggots and flies to its center where the male and female parts of the plant can be fertilized by the movement of the insects and their larvae. Starfish flowers grow native in South Africa and are sometimes grown in southern California.

Flame Lily

  • Flame lilies or Gloriosa superba are climbing herbaceous plants. Their leaves grow long thin tips that twist onto other plants for support. After the plant blossoms, it dies off completely except for the tubers underground. The petals of the flame lily curl in along the edges and tips to form a cup-like shape with stamen that stick out below and beyond the petals. Flame lilies grow in the northern province of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The plants bear flame-looking blossoms in a range of colors from bright yellow to dark red.

Leopard Orchid

  • Leopard orchids or Ansellia gigantea grow in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and in other tropical locales in Africa. These yellow orchids, with brown spots on their petals, grow with their roots hugging the branches of trees. Leopard orchids have a distinctive and pleasant fragrance.

River Crinum

  • River crinum or Crinum macowanii is an African flower in the lily family. Its bell-shaped flowers appear in white and pale pink colorations. Crinum grows from bulbs in the wilds of East Africa all the way through South Africa. The species name macowanii comes from the botanist Peter MacOwan who took a great interest in river crinum.

Wild Hibiscus

  • Wild hibiscus or Hibiscus engleri grow as small shrubs or trees and have rough branches and leaves. The flowers of the wild yellow or pink hibiscus are extremely fragile and last for just one day before wilting. They grow in thickets and savanna areas in South Africa and other tropical zones across the rest of the continent. Hibiscus engleri's species name was inspired by Dr. Prof Heinrich Gistav Adolf Engler, the director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Berlin.

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  • Photo Credit Stapelienblüte - stapelia flower image by Bettina Pressl from Fotolia.com Makro einer Stapelienblüte - Macro of stapelia image by Bettina Pressl from Fotolia.com red and white lily image by Alexander Potapov from Fotolia.com orchidsher1 image by michael luckett from Fotolia.com hibiscus image by Melva Vivian from Fotolia.com
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