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Family: Caryophyllaceae (Carnation 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 > Order: Caryophyllales

About 86 genera and 2200 species (cosmopolitan but mainly north temperate regions, especially Mediterranean and Irano-Turanean region), with 12 genera and 51 species native to southern Africa, a further 11 genera and 22 species that are naturalised, and a further two genera and 37 species that are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

Information from Jordaan (2000).

Cerastium

About 100 species (almost cosmopolitan but mainly N temperate regions of the Old World), with six species native to southern Africa and a further two species that are cultivated in the region.

 

Corrigiola

Eleven species (mainly Europe, Africa and Chile), with four species that are native to southern Africa.

 

Dianthus (carnation genus)

About 300 species (Europe, Asia, Africa), with 16 species native to southern Africa and a further 14 species that are cultivated in the region. The genus includes the Carnation Dianthus caryophyllus, which probably originates from the Mediterranean and is widely cultivated for its flowers.

 

Drymaria

About 48 species (mainly Americas) of which one, Drymaria cordata, has a pantropical distribution that includes southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Herniaria

About 47 species (Eurasia, Canary Islands and Africa), with four species native to southern Africa and a further species that is cultivated in the region.

 

Krauseola

Two species with a tropical East African distribution one of which, Krauseola mosambicina, extends into Mozambique and northern KwaZulu-Natal.

 

Pollichia

One species: Pollichia campestris, with a distribution that extends from the Arabian Peninsula, through East Africa and into southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Polycarpaea

About 50 species (tropics and subtropics), with two species native to southern Africa.

 

Polycarpon

About 16 species (mainly Europe and Mediterranean but also South America and southern Africa), with one species native to southern Africa and another that has become naturalised in the region.

 

Silene (Campion genus)

About 700 species (Eurasia, Africa and North America), with 12 species native to southern Africa, four species that are naturalised, and a further eight species that are cultivated in the region.

Silene gallica in weedy area on coastal plain, Kleinmond Nature Reserve (Western Cape, South Africa)

Spergularia

About 25 species (cosmopolitan), with two species native to southern Africa and a further two species that are naturalised in the region.

 

Stellaria (chickweed, stitchwort genus)

About 90-120 species, with one species native to southern Africa and a further two species that are naturalised in the region.

 

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

Information from Jordaan (2000).

Agrostemma (corncockles)

Two species (Mediterranean and temperate Eurasia), of which one, Agrostemma githago (Common corncockle), has become naturalised in southern Africa and is a weed in fields.

Arenaria

About 150 species, native mainly to N temperate regions; two species have become naturalised in southern Africa and a further two species are cultivated in the region.

 

Holosteum

About three species (temperate Eurasia plus one in Ethiopia), of which one, Holosteum umbellatum, has become naturalised in southern Africa.

 

Moenchia

Three species (Europe, Mediterranean), of which one, Moenchia erecta, has become naturalised in southern Africa (Western Cape).

 

Paronychia

About 110 species (native distribution nearly cosmopolitan but not southern Africa or SE Asia), of which one, Paronychia brasiliana, has been introduced to southern Africa from South America and is a troublesome weed in lawns.

 

Petrorhagia

Twenty-eight species (Canary Islands, Europe, Mediterranean through to Kasmir), of which one, Petrorhagia prolifera, has become naturalised in southern Africa (southern Cape).

 

Sagina

About 30 species (nearly cosmopolitan but not native to southern Africa), of which two, Sagina apetala and Sagina maritima, are naturalised in southern Africa, where they are found as tiny weeds in lawns. In addition, Sagina procumbens (Pearlwort) is cultivated in the region.

 

Saponaria (Soapwort genus)

About 20 species, native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia. One species is naturalised, and two species are cultivated in southern Africa.

Soapwort Saponaria officinalis in the Company Gardens, Cape Town. Originates from Europe.

Scleranthus

About 10 species (temperate Eurasia, Mediterranean, Ethiopia and Australasia), of which one, Scleranthus annuus, was introduced to southern Africa before 1900 and has become a problem weed in wheat and lucerne fields. In addition, Scleranthus biflorus (native from Tasmania to South America) is cultivated in the region.

 

Spergula

Six species (temperate Eurasia), of which one, Spergula arvensis, is a cosmopolitan weed that has been introduced to southern Africa.

 

Vaccaria

Vaccaria hispanica (Cowherb, Cowcockle, Cow-basil) is native to Europe and has become naturalised in southern Africa.

 

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Information from Glen (2002).

Lychnis

Four species cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Gypsophila

Two species cultivated in southern Africa: Gypsophila elegans (native to the Caucasus and Turkey) and Gypsophila muralis (native to Europe).

 

Publications

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

  • Jordaan, M. 2000. Caryophyllaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 206-213). National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

 

 


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