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Family: Brassicaceae or Cruciferae (Cabbage, Turnip, Caper 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 > Rosids > Eurosid II > Order: Brassicales

There are about 338 genera and 3710 species of Brassicaceae worldwide, with nine genera and 117 species native to southern Africa, an additional 22 genera and 41 species are naturalised, and an additional 15 genera and 42 species are cultivated in the region. Capparaceae and Cleomaceae are placed under Brassicaceae in some classifications but they are kept as three families here (following Angiosperm Phylogeny website Version 9).

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Dreyer & Jordaan (2000a, b) and Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Aplanodes

Two species, both endemic to southern Africa

 

Cardamine (bittercresses)

About 130 species, found worldwide. In southern Africa there are two native species and three naturalised.

 

Chamira

The single species, Chamira circaeoides, is endemic to the Western Cape.

 

Erucastrum

About 18 species, native to central and southern Europe, Arabian Peninsula and Africa, with three species native to southern Africa.

 

Heliophila

Eighty-one species, all endemic to southern Africa, mainly winter-rainfall regions.

 

Lepidium

About 150 species, widely distributed in temperate and subtropical regions of the world, with 16 native and two naturalised species in southern Africa. One of the latter, Lepidium draba (Pepper-cress, Hoary cardaria, White top, Peperbos) is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa. In addition to these native and naturalised species, Lepidium sativum (Garden cress) is cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Matthiola (stocks)

About 55 species, native to Macronesia, western Europe, the Mediterranean region and also southern Africa where there is one native species. In addition, two species have become naturalised, and a further two are cultivated, in southern Africa.

 

Rorippa

About 80 species, widely distributed mainly in temperate regions. Six species are native to southern Africa and one species, Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (Watercress) is naturalised in the region.

 

Sisymbrium

About 80 species, native to Eurasia, the Mediterranean region, Africa and South America. Five species are native to southern Africa, three are naturalised, and a further species is cultivated in the region.

 

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Dreyer & Jordaan (2000a, b).

Alyssum

About 168 species, native mainly to the Mediterranean region but also found in central Europe and Asia. Alyssum minutum has become naturalised in southern Africa (Namaqualand and Western Cape). A further five species are cultivated in the region. Sweet Alyssum, the garden plant with little white flowers that is grown commonly along borders of flower beds, is no longer placed in this genus and is now known as Lobularia maritima.  

 

Arabidopsis

A total of 13 species, native to Asia, Europe and North America. Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale cress) has become naturalised in southern Africa (Northern, Western and Eastern Cape).

 

Barbarea

The 12 species are native to Europe, North America and N Asia. Barbarea verna (Land cress) has become naturalised in southern Africa (Western Cape). In addition, Barbarea vulgaris (Yellow rocket) (native to Eurasia and North Africa) is cultivated in the region.

 

Brassica

About 40 species, native mainly to Eurasia. Five species have become naturalised in southern Africa. An additional three species are cultivated in the region. This genus includes some important species used as vegetables, herbs and spices: Brassica rapa (Turnip, Rapes, Mustards, Oriental Cabbages); Brassica juncea (Indian or Brown Mustard); Brassica nigra (Black Mustard); and Brassica oleracea (Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Kohlrabi, Cauliflower, Kale).

Camelina

About 10 species, native to central Europe, eastern Mediterranean and central Asia. Cultivated widely for fibre, bird seed and seed oil (cameline oil). One species Camelina rumelica naturalised in southern Africa (Gauteng).

 

Capsella

Five species, native to eastern Mediterranean and W Asia.  Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's Purse) is naturalised in southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Carrichtera

One species occurs as a rare escape in Harare, Zimbabwe - Carrichtera annua.

 

Coronopus

Ten species, native to the Mediterranean region, southeast Africa and South America. There are three naturalised species in southern Africa.

 

Crambe

About 20 species, native to W Asia, central Europe, the Mediterranean region and northern tropical Africa. Crambe hispanica (native from Portugal to Greece) has become naturalised in southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal).

 

Descurainia

About 55 species, mainly occurring in North America but also native to South America, Europe and Asia. Descurainia sophia has become locally naturalised in arid areas of southern Africa (Gauteng, Northern and Eastern Cape).

 

Diplotaxis

About 27 species, native to Mediterranean region and central Europe, extending eastwards to India. Diplotaxis muralis (Wall rocket) has become naturalised in southern Africa. See Wikipedia

 

Eruca

The five species are native to the Mediterranean region. Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa (Rocket, Salad rocket) has become naturalised in the northern summer-rainfall regions and is cultivated as a vegetable that is used in salads. Eruca vesicaria subsp. vesicaria is also cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Hirschfeldia

The two species are native to the Mediterranean and Socotra. Hirschfeldia incana has been introduced to the Western Cape where it has been recorded as an escape from cultivation.

 

Hutchinsia

Hutchinsia procumbens (Oval purse) [= Hymenolobus procumbens, Hornungia procumbens] has been recorded as an escape from cultivation in the Western Cape. Depending on the authority, this species can be found under three different genus names, which is very confusing. Hutchinsia is used by Encyclopedia of Life.

 

Hymenolobus

One species is naturalised in southern Africa: Hymenolobus procumbens.

 

Lobularia

Five species, native to Cape Verde, Canary Islands and the Mediterranean region. Lobularia maritima (Sweet alyssum, Sweet alison) has escaped from cultivation in the Western Cape. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Lobularia maritima (Sweet alyssum, Sweet alison)

Nasturtium

One species is naturalised in southern Africa: Nasturtium officinale.

 

Raphanus (Radish genus)

About eight species, native to western and central Europe. Raphanus raphanistrum (Wild Radish) and Raphanus sativus (Radish) are naturalised in southern Africa. The red, fleshy taproot of Radish is eaten as a vegetable, although the peppery taste is not to everyone's liking.

Rapistrum

Three species, native to central Europe, the Mediterranean region and western Asia. Rapistrum rugosum (Turnip weed) is naturalised in southern Africa.

 

Sinapis

About 10 species, native to the Mediterranean region but now widespread in Europe. Sinapis arvensis (Wild mustard, Charlock) and Sinapis alba (White mustard) are weeds associated with cultivation in southern Africa. 

 

Thlaspi

About 60 species, native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Thlaspi arvense (Field penny-cress) has become naturalised in southern Africa (Eastern Cape). In addition, Thlaspi alpinum (native to central Europe) is cultivated in the region.

 

Turritis

Three species, native to Europe, western Asia and Africa. Turritis glabra is naturalised in southern Africa.

 

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). Species are listed for genera represented by only one species in southern Africa.

Aubrieta

The genus has been cultivated in southern Africa but no particular species is listed in Glen (2002). See Wikipedia

 

Aethionema (stonecresses)

Two species cultivated: Aethionema grandiflorum (native to southwestern Asia) and Aethionema saxatile (native to the Mediterranean).

 

Arabis

Six species cultivated.

 

Armoracia rusticana (Horseradish)

A pungent herb with leaves that are used in salads and sandwiches, and roots that are used for sauces that are added to meat. It is also used for various medical complaints. It is native to southern Russia and Eastern Ukraine. It has become naturalised in Europe, North America and New Zealand, where it can be found growing along roadsides. Cultivation dates back only to about Roman and Greek times, about 2000 years ago. 

 

Aurinia saxatilis (Basket of gold)

Native to central and eastern Europe. See Wikipedia

 

Cochlearia officinalis (Scurvy grass)

Native to central and northwestern Europe. See Skye Flora

 

Draba (whitlow-grasses)

About 300 species, native to north temperate and boreal regions and also to South American mountains. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Erysimum (wallflowers)

About 225 species, native to southwestern Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, Macronesia, North America and Central America as far south as Costa Rica. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Fibigia clypeata

Native from Italy to the Crimea.

 

Hesperis laciniata

Native to the south Balkans.

 

Hornungia alpina

Native to central and southern Europe. See Wikipedia

 

Iberis (candytufts)

About 30 species, native to Europe. Three species are cultivated in southern African gardens.

 

Isatis tinctoria (Woad)

Native to southwestern Asia. Woad was the only source of indigo dye (the chemical compound is called indican) in Europe until about the end of the 16th century when indigo from Indigofera tinctoria and other Indigofera species started being imported from the East. See Wikipedia on the plant and the dye.

 

Lunaria

Two species cultivated as ornamental plants: Lunaria annua (Annual honesty, Honesty) (see Wikipedia) and Lunaria rediviva (Perennial honesty) (see Wikipedia)

 

Malcolmia maritima (Virginia stocks)

Native to Greece and Albania. See Wikipedia

 

Publications

  • Dreyer, L.L. & Jordaan, M. 2000b. Brassicaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 184-191. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  

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