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Family: Apiaceae / Umbelliferae (carrot family)

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 > Asterids > Euasterid II > Order: Apiales

There are about 453 genera and more than 3750 species (cosmopolitan but mainly temperate regions), of which 40 genera and 164 species are native to southern Africa and a further nine genera and 13 species have been introduced to this region and become naturalised. A further 18 genera and 29 species are under cultivation. This family contains many important medicinal and culinary herbs and there are also some species eaten as vegetables.

Genera native to southern Africa

Information mainly from van Wyk (2000).

Afrocarum

Only one species, Afrocarum imbricatum, occurring in south-central Africa, including Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Afroligusticum

Four species native to southern Africa.

Afrosciadium

Six species native to southern Africa.

Agrocharis

There are a total of four species, native to Africa, of which three are native to southern Africa.

Alepidea

About 28 species, with 25 species occurring in southern Africa, although a few extend as far north as Ethiopia.

Anginon

Twelve species in total, all of which are native to southern Africa.

Annesorhiza

The 14 species are all native to southern Africa.

Apium

The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution and of the 25 species, two species occur in southern Africa of which one, Apium prostratum (Sea Celery), is indigenous. Celery Apium graveolens is naturalised in the region.

Arctopus

The three species are endemic to the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape. 

Berula

Three species native to southern Africa.

Bupleurum

About 180 species, native mainly to Europe, Asia and Africa with one species, Bupleurum mundii, indigenous to southern Africa. In addition, Bupleurum rotundifolium has been introduced to southern Africa as a garden plant and occurs as an escape in northern regions.

Capnophyllum

The four species are found in coastal sands of the Northern and Western Cape.

Chamarea

At least five species, all endemic to southern Africa.

Choritaenia

Only one species, Choritaenia capensis, endemic to southern Africa.

Conium

The six species are native to Europe, Africa and Asia with three native to southern Africa. In addition, the highly poisonous cosmopolitan weed, Conium maculatum (Hemlock), has become established in the Western Cape.

Cynorhiza

[= Peucedanum]

Three species native to southern Africa.

Dasispermum

Seven species, found commonly along the South African coastline.

Deverra

The seven species are native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with two species in southern Africa.

Diplolophium

The five species are native to tropical Africa with two, Diplolophium buchananii (see Flora of Zimbabwe) and Diplolophium zambesianum (see Flora of Zimbabwe), occurring in southern Africa.

Dracosciadium

The two species are found in high altitude areas of KwaZulu-Natal.

Ezosciadium

The only species is Ezosciadium capense, native to the Eastern Cape.

Glia

The three species are native to Africa, all occurring in southern Africa.

Hermas

All eight species are endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Heteromorpha

The seven species are native to sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen and five of them are found in southern Africa.

Itasina

The only species is Itasina filifolia, endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Lefebvrea

One species native to southern Africa - Lefebvrea grantii [= Peucedanum angolense], recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Lichtensteinia

There are seven species, all occurring in southern Africa.

Marlothiella

The only species is Marlothiella gummifera, native to the Namibian coastline.

Nanobubon

Two species are native to southern Africa.

Notububon

Eleven species are native to southern Africa.

Peucedanum

One species native to southern Africa - Peucedanum triternatum. Previously considered to be a much larger genus, most of its species have been moved into the following genera - Afroligistum, Afrosciadium, Annesorhiza, Glia, Lefebvrea, Notobubon, Nanobubon and Stenagotaenia.

Phlyctidocarpa

The only species is Phlyctidocarpa flava, native to northwestern Namibia.

Pimpinella (Anise genus)

About 150 species, found worldwide with nine species native to southern Africa. Pimpinella anisum (Anise) is a medicinal and culinary herb native from Greece through to Egypt, and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Polemannia

The three species are native to southern Africa.

Polemanniopsis

Two species native to southern Africa - Polemanniopsis marlothii and Polemanniopsis namibensis.

Sanicula

About 39 species, found virtually worldwide with one species, Sanicula elata, native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Scaraboides

One species native to southern Africa - Scaraboides manningii.

Sium (Water parsnip genus)

A cosmopolitan genus with 14 species. One species is native to southern Africa and another two species are cultivated.

Steganotaenia

The two species are native to Africa, with one, Steganotaenia araliacea, occurring in southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Stenosemis

The two species are endemic to southern KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

Information mainly from van Wyk (2000).

Ammi (Lace plant genus)

The 3-4 species are native to Europe, Asia and north Africa. One species, the Lace-plant Ammi majus, has been introduced to southern Africa as garden plant and become naturalised. It is native from S Europe through to SW Asia. Ammi visnaga (Visnaga) is native to the Mediterranean region and is cultivated in southern Africa. Its use as a medicinal plant for treating angina and asthma dates back to at least Assyrian times.

Anthriscus (Chervil genus)

Total of 10-12 species, native to Europe, Asia and Africa. Anthriscus sylvestris is naturalised in southern Africa. Anthriscus cereifolium (Chervil) is native from Europe through to W Asia and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Coriandrum (Coriander genus)

The two species are native to Europe and Asia. One of them, Coriandrum sativum (Coriander, Cilantro), is native from S Europe through to SW Asia and has been introduced to southern Africa as a garden herb. It also occurs in the wild as an escape.

Cyclospermum

The only species is Cyclospermum leptophyllum which originates from the Caribbean and central America and is a weed worldwide, including in southern Africa. 

Daucus

Species total 22 and are native to Europe, Asia, North Africa and Australia. The Carrot Daucus carota is not only cultivated in southern Africa but also occurs as an escape and roadside weed.

carrots

Foeniculum (Fennel genus)

Species total 5 and are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Fennel Foeniculum vulgare, a medicinal and cullinary herb, is not only cultivated in southern Africa but occurs as a roadside weed. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Pastinaca (Parsnip genus)

The taproot of Pastinaca sativa (Parsnip) is eaten as a vegetable. The Parsnip originates from Europe and W Asia and is cultivated in southern Africa, where it has also become naturalised.

Petroselinum (Parsely genus)

Petroselinum crispum (Parsely), which originates from Europe, is cultivated in southern Africa as a culinary herb, and has also become naturalised in the region.

Torilis

About 15 species, native to Africa and adjacent areas. Two species are naturalised in southern Africa.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Information mainly from Glen (2002).

Anethum (Dill genus)

Anethum graveolens (Dill) is a culinary herb native to Europe and SW Asia and cultivated in southern Africa.

Angelica (Angelica genus)

Angelica archangelica (Garden angelica) is native to north temperate regions and is cultivated in southern Africa. Leaves are eaten as a vegetable and the petioles and inflorescence stems are candied (usually coloured green) for cake decoration. Angelica sylvestris (Wild angelica) is also cultivated in southern Africa.

Astrantia

Astrantia maxima (Masterwort) is native from S Europe through to the Caucasus and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Bolax

Bolax gummifera is native to southern South America and the Falkland Islands and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Carum (Caraway genus)

Carum carvi (Caraway) is cultivated in southern Africa. It is native to Europe and is grown for its seed-like fruit, which are used to flavour bread, sauerkraut, cheese, seedcake and liqueur (Kümmel).

Ciclospermum

Ciclospermum leptophyllum is native from Mexico through to Argentina and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Crithmum (Sea samphire)

The single species Crithmum maritinum (Sea samphire) is native to the Atlantic coast of Europe and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Cryptotaenia

Cryptotaenia japonica (Mitsuba) is native to Korea, China and Japan, and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Cuminum (Cumin genus)

Cuminum cyminum (Cumin) is a culinary herb native to the Mediterranean that is cultivated in southern Africa.

Eryngium

Six species, with indigenous ranges in Europe and South America, are cultivated in southern Africa.

Heracleum

Heracleum mantegazzianum (Giant hogweed) is native to SW Asia and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Levisticum (Lovage)

The single species in this genus Levisticum officinale (Lovage) is native to the E Mediterranean and is cultivated in southern Africa. The leaves are used like celery and the fruit and roots are used in flavouring liqueurs.

Ligusticum

Ligusticum scoticum (Scots lovage) is native to NE USA and Europe and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Myrrhis (Sweet cicely)

The single species Myrrhis odorata (Sweet cicely) is native to Europe and is cultivated in southern Africa as a culinary and medicinal herb.

Oreoxis

Oreoxis alpina is native to W USA and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Ptychotis

One unidentified species cultivated in southern Africa.

Smyrnium

Smyrnium olusatrum (Alexanders) is native from Europe through to SW Asia and is cultivated in southern Africa.

Trachymene

Trachymene coerulea (Blue lace flower) is native to W Australia and is cultivated in gardens in southern Africa.

Other genera of note

Ferula (Asafoetida genus)

A smelly gum-resin termed asafoetida is obtained from the root latex of Ferula assa-foetida (native to W Iran) and some other members of the genus and is used medicinally. The resin is collected by making cuts at the base of the stem or at the top of the root.

Publications

  • Burtt, B.L. 1991. Umbelliferae of southern Africa: an introduction and annotated checklist. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 48: 133-282.

  • Cannon, J.F.M. 1978. Umbelliferae. Flora zambesiaca 4: 555-621.

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Mabberley, D.J. 1987. The Plant Book. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

  • Pimenov, M.G. & Leonov, M.V. 1993. The genera of the Umbelliferae. A nomenclator. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Schreiber, A. 1967. Apiaceae. Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika 103: 1-9.

  • Townsend, C.C. 1989. Flora of tropical East Africa. Umbelliferae: 1-127.

  • van Wyk, B-E. 2000. Apiaceae (Umbelliferae).In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 62-71. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  

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