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It is a slender tree up to 20 m in height, with a short trunk, thick branches, and thick, peeling bark. The leaves are up to 40 cm long, compound with 7-13 leaflets, each leaflet about 10 cm long with a finely serrated margin, green above, silvery-haired below. The flowers are white to orange-buff or pinkish-red, produced in panicles 30-60 cm long.
Native to the high-elevation Afromontane regions of central and eastern Africa. It also has a disjunct distribution in the high mountains of East Africa from Sudan and Ethiopia in the north, through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Tanzania, to Malawi and Zambia in the south.
I spotted this tree on the trek up Mount Elgon. Hagenia are a prominent tree in eastern Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo in the forest home of the mountain gorillas. Dian Fossey mentions them often in her book Gorillas in the Mist.