Ugandan Plant Names
Uganda is a tropical eastern Africa country with no coastline. It is bordered by Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo and Sudan. The country is largely mountainous, with many plateaus. It has plenty of water. The Nile River flows through Uganda, and Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, is in the southeast part of the country. Uganda’s forests are classified as rain forests and they support a large number of indigenous plant species.
Called by different names in different languages, the mvuli, or muvule, tree is large and resembles teak. It grows to 150 feet tall with a diameter up to 30 feet in Uganda’s wet savannas, rain forests, river environments and evergreen forests at lower altitudes. It is drought tolerant, which allows it to survive Uganda’s dry season. The mvuli tree has been valued for its timber and charcoal production capabilities for many years, which has resulted in a serious reduction in its numbers and the subsequent classification as an endangered species.
Closely related to the ornamental fountain grass, this native species is also called Napier grass and Uganda grass. It’s a tall grass that forms clumps up to 10 feet tall, with 2- to 3-foot leaves. It is a valuable livestock food among Uganda’s savanna farmers, who cut the grass and feed it to their cattle, sheep and goats. The edges of the leaves are serrated and very sharp, but this doesn’t deter Uganda’s native birds, many of which build their nests in the cover of this plant. Outside of its native range in Uganda and other African countries, elephant grass has become an invasive species in places such as Florida, where it chokes waterways.
In Uganda’s arid northern region, large expanses of dry acacia woodlands dominate the landscape. Several species of the large acacia tree exist, with some producing sap that is dried into a product called gum arabic used as a food stabilizer, in glue and cosmetics and in the printing and lithography business. The species known as Acacia senegal is common in tropical Africa and is cultivated in other tropical areas, such as India. This acacia tree is used as firewood in many of the regions where it grows and is also valuable in helping to control erosion of sandy soils and in windy areas, according to Purdue University.
The mountains of Uganda support vast stands of bamboo, which form forests. This natural resource has been used in the building of homes and furniture for many years. Since 2006, the Uganda Industrial Research Institute has studied bamboo for its value in making marketable products, such as toothpicks, floor tiles, mats, baskets, curtains, tablecloths, handbags, cups and other souvenir items. A processing plant has been built in Kabale, which is in an area of Uganda where bamboo grows.