A Diversity of Plants
Underpinning and providing the foundation for Kenya’s vertebrate diversity is the richness and abundance of its plant life. A total of 29,614 vascular plant species are known from Africa, including 706 ferns, 44 gymnosperms and 28,864 angiosperms. The East African region has a documented 12,317 species: this is the highest plant diversity per unit area across mainland tropical Africa. Of these at least 7,004 (57 per cent) are found in Kenya, though this number is likely to change as new species are recorded, existing data is collated and taxonomy changes.
Endangered species
A total of 356 vascular plant taxa (species, subspecies and varieties) in Kenya have so far been classified as Threatened or Near Threatened. Of these, 24 taxa (21 species) are Critically Endangered, 111 are Endangered (83 species), 167 are Vulnerable (128species) and 67 are Near Threatened (56 species). Threatened species are particularly common in the Fabaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Rubiaceae families. The highest number of threatened species, 95 in all, is found in the Coastal Forests Hotspot, mainly because of habitat fragmentation and the extensive loss of the highly-diverse coastal forest ecosystems such as Arabuko Sokoke National Park and the Kaya forests.
Total plant diversity
Three key areas with high plant diversity are Mt. Elgon, Nairobi and the coastal forests, with 650 to 950 species per 0.5 degree square. The hotspots partly reflect the intensity of plant surveys and collections but also correspond with the steep environmental gradients from highland to lowlands.
Kenya Natural Capital Atlas web_version-060-1