Africa’s floriculture industry is one of the continent’s most lucrative industries. Kenya is the biggest exporter of flowers from the continent, followed by Ethiopia and South Africa.

In Kenya, the floriculture industry generates over $1 billion annually, which is approximately 1.1% contribution to the national GDP. The floriculture industry in Ethiopia contributes 80% to the country’s national GDP, and its workforce is comprised of 85% women. In South Africa, agriculture remains one of the backbone industries of the country by contributing 0.4% to the national GDP and its floriculture industry is ripe with the rapidly growing wedding industry.

With Africa being the hotspot for beautiful flowers, here are some of the stunning blooms in Africa’s floriculture industry.

Roses

One of the most popular flower exports from Kenya is the rose. The rose has long been a symbol of love and passion. In fact, ancient Greeks and Romans associated roses with Aphrodite and Venus- the goddesses of love. Roses were also historically used to represent confidentiality in ancient Rome. For example, a wild rose would be placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed. Some rose colours represent different ideas: red symbolizes enduring passion, while white symbolizes humility and innocence, and orange symbolizes enthusiasm and desire. Roses are also popular wedding flowers included in a bride’s bouquet. Roses therefore take a large segment of Africa’s floriculture industry.

roses

Proteas

South Africa is the leading exporter of protea cut flowers. Since 92% of the species are in the Cape Floristic Region, these flowers are mainly found in the Western Cape. The protea is also the national flower of South Africa. According to Greek mythology, the protea was named after Proteus. Proteus was a prophetic old man of the sea, and a shepherd of the sea’s flocks. He knew all things, but disliked divulging what he knew. He could assume whatever shape he pleased in order to hide or escape from captors who wanted his insights. The protea flower therefore represents diversity, courage, change and hope. The protea isn’t usually placed in wedding bouquets, but it would make a great addition because of its strong meaning.

Proteas

Lilies

Lilies are included in the main cut flowers of Kenya along with roses, carnations and arabicums. White lilies, also known as Madonna lilies, are typically used at weddings to represent virginity and purity. Also seen as a religious symbol in Christianity, lilies are often used in conjunction with the Virgin Mary. Additionally, lilies are present during funeral proceedings to symbolize mourning, loss and that the departed soul has been well received in the afterlife.

Lilies

Carnations

Carnations are a popular export from the continent’s flower hotspots thus contributing to the success of Africa’s floriculture industry . Not only are they rich in symbolism and mythology, but they are also a great addition to a bride’s wedding bouquet because of their meaning. Carnations symbolize pure love and good luck, as well as fascination and distinction. Colour symbolizations vary from deep love and admiration, to a mother’s undying love. Pink carnations specifically refer to a mother’s undying love. The connection stems from the belief that they first appeared on Earth as a result of the Virgin Mary’s tears.

Carnations

Saintpaulias, Also Known as African Violets

African Violets are native to Tanzania, with a concentration of species located at the Nguru Mountains. Due to their habitat being cleared for agriculture, several of the species and subspecies are endangered; however, conservation efforts are taking place as a result. African violets are associated with motherhood, and they have been a traditional gift to mothers in many cultures. They are also associated with Easter and Valentine’s Day.

African Violets

Lebo Matshego
South African journalist based in Johannesburg. A Wits University graduate, Lebo enjoys writing lifestyle and entertainment stories.