Dendrosenecios – September 4, 2019

For the last week, we’ve been on Kilimanjaro and have seen different vegetation zones of the volcano. My favorite? Seeing the dendrosenecios, giant groundsels that evolved about 1 million years ago. They are well adapted for the high altitudes of Kilimanjaro; the ones pictured here are at 12,200 – 12,500 ft. All that withered and dead foliage you see? It’s to protect the stems, by insulating them from the cold. These senecios secrete a natural anti-freeze, known as ice-nucleating polysaccharide fluids. Finally, they are known for their nyctinastic leaf movements. This means that the leaves close when temperatures drop.