The Republic of Kenya is a country located in Africa. It is located in east Africa and is bordered by five different countries including Ethiopia and Somalia. Kenya is also absolutely spectacular as it is an incredibly diverse country. The landscape as you traverse the country changes depending on which direction you choose to go in. As such a beautiful country, it is also home to 22 national parks and 28 national reserves! As can be expected, with such a unique landscape, the flora that grows there will also be worthwhile to catch a glimpse of. You may be wondering then, what the national flower of Kenya could be.
Below, we’ve uncovered all of the most important facts and key characteristics of the national flower of Kenya. Throughout, we’ll discuss what makes this flower so special as well as how you can grow one of these flowers yourself!
The Geographic Context for Kenya’s National Flower
Kenya is a beautiful and absolutely breathtaking country. In fact, it is considered the world’s premier safari destination. The country is home to tons of amazing wildlife including the Big Five which is lions, buffalo, rhinos, elephants, and leopards. Since it is located in the eastern part of Africa, the country’s climate varies depending on where you are. Locations along the coast are more tropical. This means that rainfall is more prevalent and higher temperatures as well throughout the year.
However, as you move inland, the climate becomes drier. In fact, it is so dry inland that it often doesn’t rain at all. Nairobi, however, which is the capital of Kenya, actually experiences all four seasons. Throughout the country, you’ll come across mountains, plains, safaris, and more. This unique landscape makes it a great home for its national flower. Let’s learn all about what the national flower of Kenya is and what makes it so special!
Orchid: The National Flower of Kenya
The orchid is the national flower of Kenya. While it is not officially recognized by the Kenyan government, it has been unofficially named the country’s national flower for a while now. Even though it is not official, this flower is beautiful and can be found throughout the country. In fact, there are around 250 different types of orchids that are native to the country. You can find them in almost every color and texture.
Throughout the world, the orchid belongs to the family Orchidaceae. This family of flowers is known for being incredibly colorful and found in many different sizes and shapes. They are also a part of some of the oldest plants found on the planet. This specific species of plant has been around between 26 to 110 million years ago. Since there are so many varieties of orchids and they have been around so long, they have had to learn to compete against many other plants and flowers. Their shape and colors make them very attractive to pollinators, which is why they make great flowers for gardens as they attract bees and butterflies.
Where Do Orchids Grow in Kenya?
Orchids can be found growing all throughout Kenya. The tropical coastline of Kenya makes it the perfect environment for these flowers to grow. Orchids tend to grow best in tropical environments that are hot or temperate. This is why the majority of Kenya has a lot of orchids growing throughout the country. As we mentioned above, the country is actually home to over 250 species of orchids. Half of these orchids are epiphytic, which means they don’t grow in the ground. The other half are terrestrial.
In fact, orchids are one of the biggest exports of the country. The country has been exporting so many flowers that they have been outperforming other exports in the country as the biggest earner of income. Back in 2007, the country’s flower export eventually grew to 90,000 tons which equaled 700 million dollars in US currency.
What Is the Cultural Significance of Orchids?
The orchid has been around for hundreds of millions of years. Since it has been around for so long, there is a lot of symbolism associated with it. It has a wealth of symbolism associated with it from ancient Greek culture to Aztecs and even Victorian families. It helps to explain that the word orchid is actually derived from the Greek word orchis. The word actually translates to “testicles” and their appearance reminded people of a male’s anatomy. In Ancient Greece, the orchid was associated with masculinity and strength. There were ancient myths that said that if a man ate new, young orchids he would have a son. If a mother ate a small older orchid they would have a daughter.
In Aztec civilizations, the orchid was seen as a symbol of strength and power. They would often create elixirs made out of chocolate and orchids in order to gain more strength. In Ancient China, the orchid was seen as special for its medicinal value. It was said to help cure ailments such as kidney dysfunctions, eye disease, lung disease, and gastrointestinal issues. In Kenya, the local people have used orchids for medicinal purposes as well. Overall, throughout history, orchids have been revered for their association with beauty, love, and fertility.
How to Grow Orchids
Orchids are some of the most beautiful flowers found in nature. This is why many people choose to keep them in pots in their homes or plant them in their gardens. To start, you’re going to want to select the breed of orchid that you want to grow. Some of the easiest orchid breeds to begin with are Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, and Paphiopedilum. Unlike other plants, orchids need a special type of soil that is a more porous mix. They need breathable soil and they also prefer feeling snug inside their pot.
When it comes to taking care of your orchid it is great to know that they are pretty easy to care for. For starters, they need plenty of indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will burn them and their delicate petals. Many orchids do well when placed behind window blinds or shades. Additionally, your orchid will only need to be watered once a week or so. The biggest problem for many orchid owners is overwatering their orchid, which in turn causes root rot. It is important to allow your orchid’s soil to dry out in between waterings in order to avoid root rot.
Finally, orchids really enjoy a humid climate. This is why they grow in tropical climates like Kenya’s. It is best to keep the room where the orchids are at 50% to 75% humidity levels, if possible. If your home is not naturally humid, you can always place a humidifier in the room.
Other Native Plants and Flowers of Kenya
Kenya’s native flora is extremely unique and fascinating thanks to the country’s diverse landscape. Outside of the beauty of the orchid, there are many other plants and flowers that you can find across the country. The “warburgia ugandensis“, also known as Ugandan greenheart, is a plant species native to East Africa. The bark from this evergreen tree has been used in medicine to treat stomach problems, coughs, body pains, and other ailments. Another plant you’ll find is “aloe kedongensis“, which is also known as the Kenyan aloe.
Throughout shrubs in the country, you’ll also find beautiful golden dewdrops. They are a beautiful light-colored purple and attract many visitors. In fact, they often attract hummingbirds and beautiful butterflies. As you can tell, all throughout Kenya, you’ll find a wide variety of native flora that will dazzle you immediately!
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.