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5 of the Most Unique Plants You’ll Find in Zimbabwe

 Devryn Panaino

Author: Devryn Panaino - 20 February 2024

Last Update: 2 January 2024

Part of the African Safari Zimbabwe & Zimbabwe Tourism & African Safari Collection

The landlocked country of Zimbabwe is home to a wide variety of fascinating flora, each with its own distinct features and characteristics. The best way to see them is on an immersive, guided walking safari, which will give you the time to see more than you would if you were travelling in a safari vehicle on a game drive.

Here are 5 of the most unique plants you can expect to see on safari in Zimbabwe.

Baobab Tree

One of Africa’s most iconic trees, the baobab, typically has a huge trunk that can measure up to 82 feet (25 meters) in circumference.

Locally known as the “Tree of Life”, this distinctive tree with branches that resemble roots can store large amounts of water in its trunks, allowing it to survive in arid regions and provide a vital source of water for wildlife and humans alike.

Zimbabwean Boabab
Zimbabwean Boabab

 

In Zimbabwe and many other African cultures, baobabs are culturally and spiritually significant, symbolizing wisdom and longevity in folklore.

Flame Lily

The Flame Lily is Zimbabwe’s national plant and is renowned for its striking, vividly coloured flowers, often in shades of bright red to orange. This tuberous plant thrives in diverse habitats like forests, grasslands, and sand dunes.

Flame Lily, National Flower of Zimbabwe
Flame Lily, National Flower of Zimbabwe

Notable for its toxicity, all parts, especially the tubers, contain the alkaloid colchicine. It’s pollinated mainly by butterflies and sunbirds. The Flame Lily is sensitive and susceptible to diseases, making it rare. It’s propagated by seeds or rhizome division and flourishes best in full sun and well-drained soil.

 

Zimbabwe Aloe

Known for its hardiness and resistance to drought, the Zimbabwe aloe can be found in the country’s rocky and arid landscapes. With thick, spiky leaves that can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length, this plant is easily recognizable by its bright orange or red flowers.

Zimbabwean Aloe
Zimbabwean Aloe

Native to Zimbabwe, this distinctive succulent produces a sap that has a variety of traditional medicine uses, such as treating burns, wounds, and skin conditions. This immense aloe can reach heights of up to 19 feet (5.8 meters).

Candelabra Tree

Native to southern Africa, this succulent tree has an unusual branching pattern that makes it resemble a candelabra. Reaching heights of up to 45 feet (14 meters) this tree makes for a striking sight in semi-arid landscapes.

Candelabra Tree in Zimbawe
Candelabra Tree in Zimbawe

Like most succulents, the Candelabra tree stores water in its stems, enabling it to survive in harsh, dry conditions for long periods of time. While the Candelabra tree is beautiful with its bright yellow flowers, it is also poisonous and shouldn’t be handled. 

African Horned Cucumber

Also sometimes referred to as kiwano or spiked melon, the African Horned cucumber is native to southern and eastern Africa and bears an oval fruit that is orange or yellow when ripe. The plant gets its name from its spiky, horned exterior.

African Horned Cucumber
African Horned Cucumber

The fruit has an unusual taste that can best be described as something between banana, lime, and cucumber, making it a popular and refreshing ingredient in salads, juices, and desserts. African Horned cucumber is a good source of vitamin C, dietary fibre and antioxidants.

With its varied landscapes and diverse ecosystems, Zimbabwe is home to many interesting plant species that have adapted to survive in dry and semi-arid conditions. The best way to experience them is on an African walking safari, where you’ll have plenty of time to inspect them at a relaxed pace. 


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