Nyungwe National Park is the largest block of montane forest in East or Central Africa and one of the most ancient, dating back to before the last Ice Age. A uniquely rich Centre of floral diversity, the forest has more than 200 different types of trees, and a myriad of flowering plants including the other-worldly giant lobelia and a host of colorful orchids. The flora in the park changes depending on the altitude ,for instance from an altitude of 2950 m Subalpine, bamboo, shrubs Species are present ,Podocarpus, Phillipia, bamboo, Erica johnstonii are only present at 2500 mabove seal level, High elevation – upland trees Species present: Podocarpus, Syzygium, Macaranga, Balthacaria, Hagenia 2250 m, Middle elevation – tree ferns, tall trees Species present and Carapa, Entandophragma, Newtonia, Polycscias, Symphonia, Cyathea manniana 1900 m: Low elevation – taller trees Species present: Carapa, Newtonia, Engtandophragma, Prinaria exelsium, Cyathea manniana, etc. Epiphytes are mosses, ferns, orchids and other plants that live high in trees without needing soil. These “air plants” are characteristic of moist mountain rainforests. This fruit is from a Carapa grand flora, a tree commonly found in Nyungwe. Monkeys and squirrels eat the large round seeds, while chimps, monkeys and people eat the young fruits. Entandrophragma excelsum or African mahogany (locally called umuyove”) is one of the largest trees in the forest. Nyungwe’s varied vegetation provides a diversity of habitats for its many species. Nyungwe has over 1000 different kinds of plants, many of which one will only find in the Albertine Rift. The western part of Nyungwe was refugium for rare forest species and still has richer, taller forest with more biodiversity today. The eastern part of Nyungwe forest was grasslands and shrub during the last ice age.
Nyungwe National Park is home to many medicinal plants. The following list includes some of the plants that can be found in the
Park. Descriptions of some of these plants can be found in the Handbook of African Medicinal Plants by Maurice M. Iwu. Another book that might be of interest is Medicinal Plants of East Africa by John O. Kokwaro.
Erythrina abyssinica/ Lucky bean tree/Flame tree /Umuko Gonorrhea, Burns, Joint pain, Fresh cuts/wounds, Backache, Syphilis. According to the World Agroforestry Centre, it is also “used in Kenya to treat diseases such as anthrax, and the bark is boiled with goat meat for treating gonorrhoea.The bark of the green stem may also be pounded and then tied into a fine piece of cloth and the liquid from it squeezed into the eyes to cure inflammation of the lids.”