Tanzania is not particularly famous as a destination for those with a floral interest, but this may change soon with the recent addition of Kitulo National Park. In February 2002 the Government of Tanzania announced that it would be gazetting 13,500 hectares as a National Park. This is the first National Park in Tanzania to be gazetted primarily for its botanical importance.
The park promises more than a taste of paradise for botanists, birdwatchers and hikers. Known locally as Bustani ya Mungu ('God's Garden'), the plateau is extremely floristically rich. 350 species of plants have been documented so far including 31 Tanzanian endemics, and 50 species of terrestrial orchids, numbers that continue to grow as more research is done. It is this abundance of flowers in the rainy season that creates 'one of the great floral spectacles of the world'.
Tanzania's floral diversity also includes the Saintpaulia, African Violets. Endemic to the Eastern Arc Mountains, they were first discovered by Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire in 1892. They have since become widely cultivated as house plants, while the species itself is under great threat here in Tanzania due to habitat destruction.
It would be unfair to put Tanzania's sole floral claim down to Kitulo Plateau and the African Violets. You will find beautiful displays of flowers in most of the national parks, particularly in the wetter months of April and May, known as the 'Green Season'. Gladiolus, flame lilys and fireball lilys name just a few of the vibrant species you might see on a game drive.
You will also be impressed with the riot of colour to be found in some of the major towns and cities. Huge walls of cheerful bougenvillia line many streets. Flower beds of Hibiscus can be found decorating car parks, while hotels and beach resorts have every reason to be proud of their stunning gardens.