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Subfamily: Papilionoideae

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 I > Fabales > Family: Fabaceae

About 476 genera and 13857 species, distributed worldwide, with 99 genera and 1648 species native to southern Africa, 18 genera and 65 species naturalised, and a further 61 genera and 264 species cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Germishuizen (2000).

Abrus

Seventeen species, native to tropical and subtropical regions, with four species native to southern Africa.

Adenodolichos

Fifteen species (tropical Africa), of which one Adenodolichos punctatus is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe).

 

Aeschynomene

More than 150 species, native to tropical and subtropical regions, mainly in Africa and South America. There are about 28 species native to southern Africa, and a further three species that are cultivated in the region.

Alistilus

One species native to southern Africa - Alistilus bechuanicus.

 

Alysicarpus

About 25-30 species, native from Africa to Asia, with five species native to southern Africa.

Amphithalea

About 70 species, native to Africa, and from southern Europe to India. Forty-two species native to southern Africa.

 

Antopetitia

One species, Antopetitia abyssinica, native to tropical Africa (including Zimbabwe).

 

Argyrolobium

About 70 species, native to Africa, and from southern Europe to India. Forty-nine species native to southern Africa.

Aspalathus

The largest endemic genus of flowering plants in southern Africa with a total of 279 species, mainly native to the Western Cape but extending as far north as KwaZulu-Natal. Includes Aspalathus linearis (Rooibos tea).

Astragalus

About 2000 species worldwide, especially diverse in the temperate regions of Asia. Astragalus atropilosulus is the only species native to southern Africa; in addition there is one species naturalised and four species that are cultivated in the region.

Baphia

About 80 species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with three species native to southern Africa.

Bituminaria

Two species native in southern Africa.

 

Bobgunnia

One species native to southern Africa - Bobgunnia madagascariensis.

Bolusafra

One species: Bolusafra bituminosa, endemic to the Western Cape. See revision: Moteetee, A. and van Wyk, B.-E. 2006. A revision of the genus Bolusafra (tribe Phaseoleae, Fabaceae). South African Journal of Botany 72(4): 604-608.

Bolusanthus

One species: Bolusanthus speciosus (Tree wisteria), native to Limpopo, northern Mpumalanga and Swaziland.

Bolusia

The 5-6 species are native to dry regions of Africa south of the equator, with two species found in southern Africa (Namibia and Northern Cape).

Calobota

Thirteen species native to southern Africa. Previously considered to be part of Lebeckia.

 

Calpurnia

About 16 species (Africa), with nine species native to southern Africa.

Canavalia

About 50 species, found widely in warm regions, with six species native to southern Africa.

Cordyla

Five species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with one species, Cordyla africana (Wild mango), found in southern Africa.

Craibia

Ten species, native to tropical Africa, with two species native to southern Africa and one species cultivated in the region. 

Crotalaria

About 600 species, native mainly to the tropics and subtropics, with 110 species native to southern Africa, four species naturalised, and a further six species that are cultivated in the region.

Cullen

About 40 species, with a distribution extending from Africa, through to India, Burma, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Australia. Three species are native to southern Africa.

 

Cyamopsis

About five species, distributed from Africa to India, with three species native to southern Africa and one species naturalised in the region.

 

Cyclopia

Twenty-three species, endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Dalbergia

About 159 species, native to warm regions, with 10 species native to southern Africa and one that is naturalised in the region. 

Dalbergiella

Three species, distributed in tropical Africa, of which one Dalbergiella nyasae is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

Decorsea

About four species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with three species found in southern Africa. 

Derris

One species native to southern Africa: Derris trifoliata (recorded from Mozambique).

 

Desmodium

About 300 species, native to tropical and subtropical regions, with 15 species native to southern Africa and a further seven species that are cultivated in the region.

Dichilus

All five species are native to southern Africa.

 

Dipogon

One species: Dipogon lignosus [= Dolichos lignosus, Dolichos gibbosus], endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape. 

Dolichos

About 60 species, native from Africa through to east Asia, with 16 species found in southern Africa.

Dumasia

About eight species, found from Africa through to Asia, with one species, Dumasia villosa, native to southern Africa.

Eminia

Four species distributed in tropical Africa, of which two are native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

Eriosema

About 130 species, occurring in tropical and subtropical regions, with 46 species native to southern Africa.

Erythrina

About 130 species, occurring in warm regions of the world, with nine species native to southern Africa, two species naturalised, and a further 10 species and two hybrids that are cultivated in the region.

Flemingia

About 30 species, occurring in the Old World tropics, with one species, Flemingia grahamiana, native to southern Africa.

Galactia

About 50 species, found in the tropics and subtropics (mainly New World), with two species native to southern Africa: Galactia tenuiflora and Galactia striata (recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

 

Hypocalyptus

Three species, endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Indigastrum

About nine species, mainly south tropical Africa but one species occurring throughout the tropics. Eight species native to southern Africa.

 

Indigofera

About 730 species, occurring mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, with 232 species native to southern Africa.

Kotschya

About 31 species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with seven species recorded from southern Africa.

Lablab

One species: Lablab purpureus, which is widespread in Africa, including in southern Africa. Subspecies uncinatus is considered native to southern Africa whereas subspecies purpureus is considered to be naturalised in the region.

Lebeckia

Fourteen species, endemic to southern Africa with the main concentration of species in the Cape.

Lessertia

About 59 species, 56 of which are native to southern Africa.

Liparia

About 20 species, endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Lotononis

About 150 species, mainly African, extending to the Mediterranean and to Pakistan. Almost all the species (142) are native to southern Africa.

Lotus

About 100 species, widespread, with four species native to southern Africa, two species naturalised, and an additional 11 species that are cultivated in the region. This genus is not to be confused with the common name lotus which applies to species of aquatic plants in the genus Nelumbo (family: Nelumbonaceae).

Macrotyloma

About 24 species (Africa and Asia), with 10 species native to southern Africa.

Melolobium

Fifteen species, endemic to southern Africa.

 

Microcharis

About 35 species, native to Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula, with four species in southern Africa.

 

Millettia

About 100 species, found in tropical and subtropical regions, with four species native to southern Africa and a further seven species that are cultivated in the region.

Mucuna

About 100 species, widespread in warm regions, with five species native to southern Africa and a further three species that are cultivated in the region.

Mundulea

About 15 species, all endemic to Madagascar, except Mundulea sericea (= Mundulea suberosa), which is native to southern Africa.

Neonotonia

One species: Neonotonia wightii (= Glycine wightii), distributed in Africa through to Asia, including in southern Africa.

Neorautanenia

Three species, all native to southern Africa.

Ophrestia

About 13 species (Africa and Asia), with two species, Ophrestia oblongifolia and Ophrestia unifoliolata (recorded from Zimbabwe), native to southern Africa.

 

Ormocarpum

About 20 species (Old World tropics), with three species native to southern Africa.

Otholobium

Forty five species native to southern Africa.

Otoptera

Two species, native to Africa, with one of them, Otoptera burchellii (= Vigna burchellii), native to southern Africa.

Pearsonia

About 13 species, 12 of which are native to southern Africa.

Pericopsis

Four species distributed in tropical Africa, of which one Pericopsis angolensis is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe).

Philenoptera

Five species native to southern Africa.

Podalyria

Twenty-five species, endemic to southern Africa, ranging from the Western Cape through to KwaZulu-Natal.

Polhillia

Six species, all endemic to the Western Cape.

Pseudarthria

About six species, occurring from southern Africa to Asia, Madagascar, Mauritius and Réunion, with one species, Pseudarthria hookeri, native to southern Africa.

Pseudaminia

Four species worldwide, all occurring in tropical Africa, of which one Pseudominia comosa is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe).

 

Psophocarpus

About 10 species worldwide in the Old World tropics, of which two, Psophocarpus scandens and Psophocarpus lancifolius is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe).

Psoralea

Thirty-six species, endemic to southern Africa, mainly in fynbos.

Pterocarpus

About 20 species, found in tropical regions, with four species native to southern Africa and a further two species that are cultivated in the region.

Ptycholobium

All three species are native to southern Africa.

Rafnia

Nineteen species, endemic to southern Africa, occurring from the Western Cape through to KwaZulu-Natal.

Requienia

About three species, all African, with two of them native to southern Africa.

 

Rhynchosia

About 200 species, found throughout the tropics and subtropics, with 79 species native to southern Africa and a further species that is cultivated in the region.

Rothia

Two species, native from Africa to India and Australia, with one of them, Rothia hirsuta, occurring in southern Africa.

 

Sesbania

Fifty-two species, native to warm regions and usually growing in wet places. Eighteen species native to southern Africa, three are naturalised and a further two are cultivated in the region. Sesbania punicea (Red sesbania, Rooi sesbania) is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa.

Smithia

About 30 species (Old World tropics), with one species, Smithia erubescens, native to southern Africa.

 

Sophora

About 60-70 species (warm regions worldwide), with three species native to southern Africa, and an additional four species that are cultivated in the region.

Sphenostylis

The seven or eight species are native to Africa and India, with five species found in southern Africa.

Stirtonanthus

Three species, endemic to the Western Cape.

Stylosanthes

About 25 species, native to tropical and subtropical regions, with one species, Stylosanthes fruticosa, occurring in southern Africa, and a further three species from Central and South America that are cultivated in the region.

Sutherlandia

The five species are all native to southern Africa.

Swartzia

About 127 species, mainly occurring in tropical America but with two species in Africa. Swartzia madagascariensis is the only species native to southern Africa.

 

Tephrosia

Over 400 species, native to warm regions, with 67 species native to southern Africa.

Teramnus

About eight species, widely distributed in warm regions, with three species native to southern Africa.

 
Trifolium (clovers)

About 250 species, widely distributed in temperate and subtropical regions, with five species native to southern Africa, 15 species that are naturalised, and a further 15 species that are cultivated in the region.

Trigonella

About 130 species, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. One species is native to southern Africa, two species are naturalised, and a further three species are cultivated in the region.

Uraria

Twenty species worldwide (Old World tropics), of which one Uraria picta is native to Zimbabwe.

Vigna

About 160 species, widespread in tropical regions, with 20 species native to southern Africa, one species is naturalised, and a further three species are cultivated in the region.

Virgilia

Two species, endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Wajira

One species recorded in southern Africa, native to Zimbabwe - Wajira grahamiana [= Vigna macroryncha].

 

Wiborgia

Nine species, endemic to the Northern and Western Cape.

Wiborgiella

Nine species native to southern Africa.

 

Xanthocercis

The two species are native to Africa and Madagascar, with one species, Xanthocercis zambesiaca (= Pseudocadia zambesiaca), native to southern Africa.

Xeroderris

One species: Xeroderris stuhlmannii (= Ostryoderris stuhlmannii), native to savanna regions of tropical Africa, including in southern Africa.

Xiphotheca

About nine species, endemic to fynbos of the southern Cape region.

 

Zornia

About 80 species, mainly native to Brazil. Five species are native to southern Africa.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Germishuizen (2000).

Alhagi

The native distribution of the three species extends from the Mediterranean region to Nepal. Alhagi maurorum has become naturalised in localised dry areas of the Northern and Western Cape and is a Category 1 declared invader plant in South Africa.

 

Arachis

About 22 species, native to South America. Arachis hypogaea (Peanut or Groundnut) (see Flora of Zimbabwe) is cultivated in southern Africa and also occurs in natural vegetation as an escape. In addition, Arachis repens (Amendoim rasteiro), which is native to Brazil, is cultivated in southern Africa.

Cajanus

Two species, of which the one, Pigeonpea Cajanus cajan, is cultivated widely in the tropics, and has become naturalised in the northerly parts of southern Africa. \

Clitoria

About 70 species, native to the tropics, mainly the neotropics. Clitoria ternatea has become naturalised in southern Africa and there are a further two species that are cultivated in the region.

Cytisus

About 30-35 species (Europe, North Africa and southwestern Asia), with one species naturalised in southern Africa (Common broom - Cytisus scoparius), and a further eight species and one hybrid that are cultivated in the region.

 

Genista

About 87 species (Europe, Canary Islands, Mediterranean to western Asia); one species is naturalised in southern Africa and an additional nine species are cultivated in the region.

Glycyrrhiza (liquorice genus)

About 20 species, most of them in Eurasia, but also distributed across to Australia, and in North America and temperate South America. Glycyrrhiza glabra (Liquorice) has become naturalised in the Western and Eastern Cape. In addition, Glycyrrhiza echinata (native from eastern Mediterranean to southwestern Asia) is cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Lespedeza

About 30 species (eastern North America, easter and southern Asia and Australasia), with one species naturalised in southern Africa, and a further three species that are cultivated in the region.

 

Lupinus (lupins)

About 200 species, native to the Americas, and Mediterranean Europe through to the highlands of East Africa. Five species naturalised in southern Africa and a further nine species are cultivated in the region.

Macroptilium

Two species are cultivated in southern Africa, one of which, Macroptilium atropurpureum occurs as a naturalised species in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Medicago (lucerne genus)

About 50 species, native to Europe, Africa and Asia. No indigenous species in southern Africa but five species and one hybrid are naturalised, and an additional seven species are cultivated in the region. Medicago sativa (Alfalfa, Lucerne, Medic) is an important forage crop.

Melilotus

About 20 species, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. There are three naturalised species in southern Africa, and an additional four species that are cultivated in the region.

Ornithopus

About six species, native to Europe, Mediterranean region, western Asia, Atlantic Islands and South America. Ornithopus sativus is a naturalised species in the Western Cape, and there are an additional two species of Ornthopus that are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Pueraria

About 20 species, native to Asia. One species, Pueraria lobata (Kudzu vine, Japanese arrowroot, Kudzuranker), has become naturalised in Mpumalanga and is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa.

 

Robinia

About 20 species (or only 4 according to some authorities), native to America and Europe. Robinia pseudoacacia (Black locust, Witakasia) has become naturalised in southern Africa and is a declared Category 2 invasive plant in South Africa. In addition, Robinia hispida (Rose acacia, Kelsey locust) is cultivated in the region.

Spartium

One species: Spartium junceum (Spanish broom, Spaanse besem), native to the Mediterranean region and southwest Europe and now naturalised in southern Africa. It is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa.

Ulex

Ulex europaeus (European gorse, Gaspeldoring) has been introduced to southern Africa and has become naturalised in forest areas of the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. It is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa. In addition, Ulex minor (Dwarf gorse), which is native to western Europe, is cultivated in the region.

 

Vicia (Broad bean genus)

About 140 species, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa, with six species naturalised in southern Africa and a further 11 species that are cultivated in the region, including Vicia faba (Broad bean).

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Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). The species name is provided in genera that have only one species represented in southern Africa.

Adenocarpus complicatus

Native to the Mediterranean.

 

Adesmia

Species details absent in Glen (2002).

 

Amorpha fruticosa (Bastard indigo)

Native from eastern Canada to Mexico.

 

Anagyris foetida (Bois puant)

Native to the Mediterranean.

 

Anthyllis

Three species cultivated.

 

Baptisia australis

Native to eastern USA.

 

Barklya syringifolia

Native to northeast Australia.

 

Biserrula pelecinus

Native from Greece to Portugal.

 

Butea

Two species cultivated: Butea monosperma (Dhak, Flame-of-the-forest) (native from Pakistan to Indochina), and Butea superba (Lata palasha, Climbing palas) (native to Burma and Thailand).

 

Cadia purpurea (Gadi, Hezaus, Salalma)

Native from Kenya to Arabia.

Calia secundiflora (Texas mescalbean)

[= Sophora secundiflora]

Native from Spain to Italy.

 

Calicotome spinosa

Native from Spain to Italy.

 

Caragana

About 80 species (Asia, eastern Europe); three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Carmichaelia

Two species cultivated: Carmichaelia aligera and Carmichaelia australis, both native to New Zealand.  

 

Castanospermum australe (Australian Chestnut, Moreton Bay Chestnut)

Native to eastern Australia.

 

Centrolobium robustum (Zebrawood)

Native to Brazil.

 

Centrosema

Two species cultivated: Centrosema plumieri (native to South America), and Centrosema pubescens (native to Brazil).

Chamaespartium sagittale

Native to Europe.

 

Chorizema

Two species cultivated: Chorizema cordatum and Chorizema varium, both native to western Australia.

 

Cicer

Two species cultivated: Cicer arietinum (Chickpea) and Cicer trinitatis (native from Trinidad to Brazil).

Cladrastis kentukea (American yellowwood)

Native to southern and central USA.

 

Clianthus formosus (Desert pea, Sturt's desert pea)

Native to Australia.

 

Colutea

Two species cultivated: Colutea arborescens (Bladder senna) (native to Europe), and Colutea melanocalyx, native to Turkey.

Coronilla

About 20 species (Atlantic islands, Mediterranean, Europe); six species cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Dalea

Unidentified species listed in Glen (2002).

 

Dendrolobium umbellatum

[= Desmodium umbellatum]

Has a wide distribution that includes tropical Africa, Asia, Australasia, Indian Ocean islands and Pacific islands. See Encyclopedia of Life.

 

Dorycnium

Two species cultivated: Dorycnium herbaceum (native from France to Armenia) and Dorycnium pentaphyllum (native to the Mediterranean).

 

Galega officinalis (Goat's rue)

Native from Europe to Pakistan.

Gliricidia sepium (Madriado, Cacahuananche)

Native from Mexico to Guyana.

 

Glycine max (Soya bean)

Domesticated in northeastern China from the wild Glycine soja, the earliest evidence of cultivation dating to 3000 years ago.

 

Goniogyna hirta

Native from Pakistan to Sri Lanka.

 

Hardenbergia

Two species cultivated: Hardenbergia comptoniana (Wild sarsaparilla) and Hardenbergia violacea (False sarsaparilla), both native to Australia.

 

Hedysarum coronarium (French honeysuckle)

Native to Europe.

 

Hippocrepis

About 21 species (Europe, western Asia, Mediterranean); three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Hymenocarpus circinnatus

Native from Spain to Israel.

 

Kennedia

Sixteen species, native to Australia; three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Laburnum

Two species, native to the mountainous regions of central and southern Europe, from France to the Balkan Peninsula. Both species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Lathyrus (sweet peas and vetchlings)

About 160 species (temperate regions of Europe, North America, Asia and tropical East Africa); 17 species have been cultivated in southern Africa.

Lens culinaris (Lentil)

Originates from the Near East and central Asia. People were harvesting wild lentils by 11200 years ago and by 8800 years ago they were being cultivated.

Maackia amurensis

Native from Siberia to Taiwan.

 

Myroxylon

Two species cultivated: Myroxylon balsamum (Balsam of Tolu) (native from Mexico to Colombia), and Myroxylon peruiferum (native from Ecuador to Brazil).

 

Onobrychis viciifolia (Sainfoin)

Native to central and western Europe.

 

Ononis (restharrows)

About 75 species (Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Ethiopia and Iran); five species have been cultivated in southern Africa.

Pachyrhizus erosus (Yam bean)

Native to Mexico.

 

Parochetus communis (Shamrock pea)

Native from mountains of tropical Africa through to southeast Asia.

 

Phaseolus

About 50 species, native to the Americas; nine species are cultivated in southern Africa including Phaseolus vulgaris, which includes most of the well-known edible bean varieties.

Piscidia

Two species cultivated: Piscidia carthagenensis (Barbasco, Fish-poison tree) (native from Florida to Honduras), and Piscidia piscipula (Jamaica dogwood, Fish-fuddle tree) (native from Mexico to Ecuador).

 

Pisum sativum (Garden pea)

Originates from the Near East, was being eaten by people at least 9500 years ago, and by 8500 years ago there is evidence of pea cultivation.

Platymiscium pinnatum

Native from central America to Brazil.

 

Platypodium elegans

Native to Brazil.

 

Scorpiurus

Two species cultivated: Scorpiurus subvillosus (native from Portugal to Iran) and Scorpiurus vermiculatus (native from the western Mediterranean to Madeira).

 

Securigera securidaca

Native from Spain to Azerbaijan.

 

Stongylodon macrobotrys (Jade vine)

Native to the Philippines.

 

Styphnolobium japonica (Japanese pagoda tree)

[= Sophora japonica]

Native to China and Korea.

 

Swainsonia

Two species cultivated in southern Africa, both native to Australia.

 

Sweetia fruticosa (Sucupira)

Native from Brazil to Bolivia.

 

Teline

Three species cultivated in southern Africa, all native to the Canary Islands and one also distributed in the western Mediterranean.

 

Templetonia retusa (Coral bush)

Native to Australia.

 

Thermopsis

Two species cultivated: Thermopsis fabacea and Thermopsis montana, both native to the western USA.

 

Tipuana tipu (Tipu tree)

Native to Bolivia and Argentina. A declared Category 3 invader plant in South Africa.

Wisteria

About 10 species (eastern USA, China, Korea and Japan); three species cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Publications

  • Germishuizen, G. 2000. Fabaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 262-303. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

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

 


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