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Ecbolium tanzaniense

Seeds of Ecbolium tanzaniense, a rare Tanzanian shrub with striking livid-green flowers, were successfully collected by Kew staff and Tanzanian partners on a joint expedition in 2008.
The striking flowering spikes of Ecbolium tanzaniense

The striking flowering spikes of Ecbolium tanzaniense photographed in the Kitonga Gorge, Tanzania.

Species information

Scientific name: 

Ecbolium tanzaniense Vollesen

Conservation status: 

Not formally assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria, but provisionally considered Near Threatened (NT) in this account.


Dry Acacia-Commiphora bushland and thicket on sandy soils and rocky hill slopes; sometimes found in open sandy areas.

Key Uses: 

A potential ornamental.

Known hazards: 



Genus: Ecbolium

About this species

In common with most species of its genus, Ecbolium tanzaniense has a very unusual, livid- or turquoise-green flower. Together with its long, rope-like inflorescences with their overlapping bracts, this makes it a very striking species and an exciting find in the dry bushlands of central Tanzania. It is, however, rare and localised and was only recognised as a separate species as recently as 1989, having previously been treated as an odd form of the more widespread and common E. viride.

Very little is currently known about the pollinators of most species of Acanthaceae, but it would be of great interest to study the insects which are attracted to the very unusual flowers of Ecbolium.


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