The vegetation of Mount Kilimanjaro is subdivided into different climate zones. Falling second in height only to Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest in Africa as well as the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

The mountain lies the Afromontane region of Africa, one of the Earth’s eight biogeographic realms, covering the flora and fauna species found in the mountains of Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula which stands on the equator with freestanding mountains and plateaus bundled amongst lowlands in contrast.

The richness of Mount Kilimanjaro’s biodiversity is unmatched as you can trek through five different climate zones within a few days as you go up the mountain. Below are the climatic/vegetation zones of Mount Kilimanjaro.

  • Cultivated Zone (Lowlands): Found in the low altitudes of the mountain, between 790-1,800 meters (2,600 and 5,900 feet). The lowlands are the subtropical area situated just above the Serengeti An area characterized by heavier rainfall where banana, coffee, and other crop plantations are dominant in this vegetation.
  • Rainforest: Found between the altitudes of 1,800-2,800 meters (5,900 and 9,200 feet). The rainforest is a subtropical rainforest with abundant flora and fauna (plant and animal life). It is also here where you find most species of flowering plants ranging in this Rainforest zone.
  • Moorland and heather: Lying between 2,800-4,000 meters (9,200 feet and 13,100 feet), compared to the other areas, this zone has less vegetation and has scarce plant and animal species among them groundsels, lobelias, heather, and tree moss. Beyond 4,000 meters or 13,000 feet, trees disappear.
  • Alpine or high desert: Lies between 4,000-5,000 meters (13,100 and 16,400 feet), This zone is more or less an arid or semi-arid zone that bears no trees and very few tough plants that can only thrive in harsh conditions. The type of plants found here constitutes Sage grass, hearty helichrysum flowers, moss, and thistles.
  • Arctic or summit: This is the summit zone that is snow-capped, characterized with subzero temperatures, thin air, intense sunlight, heavy snow and ice that is located anywhere above 5,00 meters or 16,400. Do not expect to find any plant life here in this zone.

 

Mount Kilimanjaro’s western and southern slopes are wetter than the areas in the north and eastern sides of the mountain. Arusha City lies on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro which is a tropical bowl, while the Serengeti Plains located to the northeastern side of Kilimanjaro are fairly dry.

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Mount Kilimanjaro Plants

Mackinders Gladiolus plant of Kilimanjaro
Mackinders Gladiolus

Below are the common plants found on Mount Kilimanjaro and its surrounding environment.

  • Mackinder’s Gladiolus (gladiolus watsonioides)
  • African blood or fireball lily (scadoxus multiflorus)
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
  • Protea Kilimandscharica
  • Kniphofia Thomsonii
  • Giant fern
  • Stoebe kilimandscharica
  • Helichrysum meyeri johannis

Mount Kilimanjaro’s Southern side is a chunk of fertile land filled with views of forests and blankets of vegetation. In the subtropical lowlands, the most common feature is the tree moss which looks suspended on the trees.

impatiens Kilimanjari

  • Tree moss, also known as old man’s beard or Spanish beard (usnea lichen)
  • Tree moss
  • Kilimanjaro impatiens (impatiens kilimanjari)
  • Hebenstretia (the white flowering plant)
  • Hebenstretia
  • Daisy bush (euryops)
  • Dead daisy bush (euryops)
  • Golden daisy bush (euryops brownei)

Meanwhile, the Alpine vegetation zone of Kilimanjaro’s landscape features Tussock or bunchgrass plants dominantly giving this northern side of Kilimanjaro a sense of deserted land and a feeling of emptiness. Since the ground is always rocky and exposed it makes mountain climbers feel like they are on mars.

  • Tussock or bunch grass
  • Hypericum revolutum
  • Dead helichrysum newii
  • Helichrysum newii
  • Stoebe kilimandscharica with bird
  • Dead philippia excelsa with bird

In the highlands, (dendrosenecios) groundsel trees are a common feature whose trunks and palms are topped with spiky leaf rosettes as well as flowering plants known as Lobelia Deckenii which resemble cactus plants.

  • Giant groundsel (senecio kilimanjari)
  • Giant lobelia deckenii

Not many plants can survive in the high desert’s harsh conditions, the few that can do are photo-ready, among them is the Sage grass and Lobelia Deckenii. Despite these conditions that are unkind to nature, Mount Kilimanjaro still brings the best out of these plants.Giant Lobelia plants on Mount Kilimanjaro

  • Helichrysum meyeri johannis and lobelia deckenii
  • Helichrysum cymosum
  • Sage grass
  • Dead thistle (carduus keniensis)

If it is your first time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, these should be the kind of plants that you will come across on your way up the mountain. If you have climbed Kilimanjaro before, then enjoy the Kodak moments, because these images might refresh your memory.

Mount Kilimanjaro Packages

8 days Lemosho Route
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8 days Lemosho Route

The 8-day Lemosho route itinerary gives you an extra day advantage for acclimatization purposes on Mount Kilimanjaro. This 8-day Mount
8 days Lemosho Route
Popular!

7 days Machame Route

The Machame route which goes by the popular nickname, the "Whiskey" route, is probably the most popular route used to

7 days Lemosho Route

The shorter 7-day Lemosho route variant does not include the extra acclimatization day as the 8-day Lemosho route itinerary. The

6 days Machame Route

The 6 days Machame route does not include the extra day for acclimatization and is therefore recommended for mountain climbers

9 days Northern Circuit Route

The 9 days Northern Circuit Route is one of the easiest routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a recently introduced

7 Days Rongai Route

This is a 7-day Rongai route itinerary variation with an extra day for acclimatization. Gradually sloping towards the summit, Uhuru

6 Days Rongai Route

This 6-day itinerary takes you to the summit of Kilimanjaro using the Rongai Route. Tranquil Kilimanjaro offers treks up the

6 Days Umbwe Route

The 6 days Umbwe Route itinerary on Kilimanjaro is unpopular with many climbers especially first-time climbers for many reasons. First

9 Days Crater Camp via Lemosho Route

This 9-day crater camp trek combined with the 8-day Lemosho route climb is a uniques experience. Crater Camp is a

11 Days Western Breach Route

The 11 days Western Breach route itinerary is rarely or barely used at all due to the risks that come
Shira Route 7 Days

7 Days Shira Route

The 7 days Shira route package is seldom used mostly because Shira is an ancient route that does not follow