Images of dry tropical habitat: Kenya

Northern and eastern Kenya, southeastern Ethiopia, and Somalia are remarkable for being so vast an expanse of dry habitat so close to the equator. For the most part, this page has photos from dry parts of Kenya, including from the greatly underexplored districts of Mandera and Wajir, last visited by botanists more than 20 years ago.

Click on a thumbnail for a larger image:



1. 2.Adenia venenata 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11 . 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.

1. Cadia, a strange legume (Fabaceae) from northeast Africa
2. Adenia venenata, a fat-stemmed plant in the Passionflower Family (Passifloraceae) photographed in central Kenya.
3. Crotalaria is a common legume in many parts of the dry tropics, especially in the Old World. This one was photographed on the Laikipia Plateau in Kenya.
4. Sesamothamnus rivae, a prickly tree in the Sesame Family (Pedaliaceae). This one was photographed right on the Kenya- Somalia border northeast of Mandera, Kenya.
5. Dracaena ellenbeckii on granite outcrops in central Kenya.
6. Red inflorescences of a Euphorbia in the Rift Valley south of Nairobi.
7. The topknot on this Kenyan Acacia is the only spot on the tree out of reach of giraffes.
8. Seasonal rock pools host many interesting plants and animals in many dry areas. These pools and other depressions on Kenya's Laikipia Plateau support a multitude of tiny plants.
9. I found the very ornamental Acanthaceae Ruttya in dry parts of central Kenya.
10. and 11. This Trichodesma marsabiticum (Boraginaceae) locality is on the remote South Island of Lake Turkana in Kenya.
12. - 14. The Caper Family (Capparaceae) is well- represented in the dry tropics of the Old World. 12. is a species of Boscia, 13. is a Capparis , and 14. is a Maerua, all from near Magadi in the Rift Valley south of Nairobi.
15. The distinctive fruits of Dodonaea viscosa (Sapindaceae) are a common sight in many parts of the dry tropics, from Africa to Arabia, Australia, and parts of the Americas
16. Balanites (Zygophyllaceae) near the Kenya- Ethiopia- Somalia border area.


1. 2.

1. Tortoise on the Laikipia Plateau in central Kenya.
2. Traces on a road where a lion has dragged a kill.


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

1. 100 miles of Heliotropium flowers produced by exceptional rains in late 1998 in a remote part of Kenya west of Laisamis.
2. View in the same area as 1. looking from Mt Baio to Mt Holiligum Nder.
3. View from the northwestern edge of the Laikipia Plateau down into the Rift Valley. Lake Baringo is visible in the far distance.
4. A crater on the South Island of Lake Turkana, Kenya. The trees are Acacia tortilis and Commiphora spp.
5. Extreme northeastern Kenya is a very rich and poorly-explored expanse of dry tropical habitat. This view is from north of Wajir.

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all material © 2002 Mark E Olson