Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

Plant of the Month, March 2012
Lobelia Telekii - by Peter and Sandra Munro
On our recent remarkable visit to Kenya in November 2011, we were primarily looking for birds and animals but always on the look-out for interesting plants. It is hard to realize, when you are there, that, while the Equator runs through the middle of Kenya, much of the central region is from 6 to 8,000ft, with Mt Kenya up to 17,000 ft.  
Thus we did see some “alpines”, particularly one of the two species of Giant Lobelia,  Lobelia telekii, on the slopes of Mt Kenya at 11,000 ft. 
Lobelia telekii is a member of the campanulacea. It grows only on Mount Kenya and two other high mountain ranges in East Africa, at 11.000 - 16.000 ft.  Its  flowering spike reaches up to 10 feet in height, and the plant dies after flowering.  It is named after the Hungarian aristocrat and explorer, Count Sámuel Teleki, who was the first explorer to set foot on Mount Kenya.
We saw many other plants species but also, during our trip, some 400 species of birds, remarkable views of all the “Big Game” and a lot of smaller animals, mostly from the safety of our Land Cruiser!