Hagenia - the mountain tree

Scientific name : Hagenia abyssinica  Family: Rosaceae 

Also known as: Muhooru and Mumondo (Kikuyu), East African Rosewood (English).

When you see this tree, you know you are high up.  Hagenias are trees of the mountain forest, growing at 2000 metres, or more, above sea level. When you climb Mount Kenya, the Hagenia is one of the last trees you see before you enter the treeless moorlands.

This tree is easy to recognise. Its bark is reddish-brown and flaky. Its soft and droopy leaves grow in tufts at the end of curved branches. Look closely and you will see that they are finely ‘toothed’ around the edge and that they have wing shaped ‘petioles’.  Its big bunches of flowers are whitish-green, changing colour as they age.


Most plants have male and female parts on the same flower (these are called hermaphroditic) or male and female flowers (or cones) in different positions on the same plant (these are called monoecious). The Hagenia tree is one of a very small number of plants (we think about 5%) that does things differently.  It has separate male and female trees. Trees that do this are called dioecious (meaning two homes). Other dioecious trees you can find in Kenya are the Silver Oak (Brachylaena huillensis) and the Ol leleshwa tree (Tarconanthus camphoratus).  

Click here to read a great article about Monoecious and Dioecious trees in Kids frontiers magazine.

You can find out more about the Hagenia tree from the World Agroforestry site here.


Contact treesafari@gmail.com for a free printable fact sheet about the Hagenia tree.