Desert rose on top of a cliff

Desert rose

Desert roses are colourful flowering plants native to the dry climates of sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian penisula. The stem and root swells up to store water from the summer rains for the long dry winter ahead. Desert rose species, and a handful of subspecies, vary widely from short, fat trees to small shrubs, depending on their location. All have a highly toxic sap which is used by local people to coat arrow tips for hunting. Unrelated to the rose family, these are also popular house plants.

Scientific name: Adenium obesum

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Impala lily,
  • Kudu,
  • Mock azalea,
  • Sabi star

Watch video clips from past programmes (1 clip)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


The Desert rose can be found in a number of locations including: Africa. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Desert rose distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Desert Desert
Desert and dry scrubland describes any area that receives less than 250mm of rainfall a year. Not just the endless, baking sand dunes of popular conception, it includes arid areas in temperate regions.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web


  1. Life
  2. Plants
  3. Flowering plants
  4. Dicotyledons
  5. Gentianales
  6. Apocynaceae
  7. Adenium
  8. Desert rose

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.