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Order: Malvales

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid II

Ten families of which eight are encountered in southern Africa. There are about 338 genera and 6005 species worldwide, of which 42 genera and 583 species are native to southern Africa, eight genera and 20 species are naturalised and a further 41 genera and 118 species are cultivated in the region.

Families encountered in southern Africa


There are no indigenous representatives of this family in southern Africa but there are two cultivated species in this region, namely Bixa orellana (Annatto tree or Lipstick tree) and Cochlospermum vitifolium.



Has a mainly north temperate distribution but the family is also native to South America. There are no species native to southern Africa but three genera and 15 species are cultivated in the region.

Cistus x purpureus (Orchid rockrose)


Two genera and about 10 species, native to Mexico, Mediterranean, South Africa and Madagascar. Three species of the parasitic genus Cytinus are native to southern Africa.


Seventeen genera and 680 species, native to tropical forests where they are often huge emergent trees. There are no native species to southern Africa but Monotes glaber has been cultivated in the region. Members of this family are a major source of hardwood timber and so it can be assumed that timber of this family has been imported into southern Africa on a regular basis.


Malvaceae (hibiscus, okra, baobab and balsa family)

About 243 genera and 4225 species worldwide; 31 genera and 401 species are native to southern Africa, a further eight genera and 20 species are naturalised, and a further 32 genera and 98 species are cultivated in the region.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Hibiscus, Chinese Cotton Rose)


The family is native to tropical America but is represented in southern Africa by one cultivated species, Muntingia calabura (Bolina, Yumanaza), which is native from Mexico to Peru.



Three genera and about 10 species, with two genera and six species native to southern Africa.



About 46-50 genera and 891 species, distributed over most regions of the world, with eight genera and 173 species native to southern Africa and a further two genera and three species that are cultivated in the region.

Families not encountered in southern Africa: Sarcolaenaceae, Sphaerosepalaceae


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