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Family: Lamiaceae / Labiatae (mint, lavender, basil family)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Order: Lamiales

This is a large family of about 252 genera and 6700 species worldwide, with 39 genera and 350 species native to southern Africa, five genera and 16 species naturalised and 38 genera and 141 species cultivated in the region. There are many culinary and medicinal herbs in this family.

Genera native or naturalised (*) in southern Africa

List from Retief (2000).

Achyrospermum

The ten species are native to the Old World tropics, with one occurring in southern Africa - Achyrospermum carvalhoi (recorded from Zimbabwe). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Acrotome

About eight species, all African. Six of the species are native to southern Africa.

Aeollanthus

The 43 species are found in tropical and warm regions of Africa, with 11 species found in southern Africa.

Ajuga

About 50 species, found in temperate regions of the Old World. The only species native to southern Africa is Ajuga ophrydis, found in the eastern parts of southern Africa. Ajuga reptans (Common bugle), native to Europe, is cultivated in southern Africa.

Ballota

About 35 species, found mainly in the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor. The only species native to southern Africa is Ballota africana. In addition, there are two cultivated species from the Mediterranean region: Ballota nigra (Black horehound) and Ballota pseudodictamnus.

Ballota africana (Cat herb)

Basilicum

The seven species are found in tropical regions of the Old World with only one species, Basilicum polystachyon, found in southern Africa (Mpumalanga, Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal).

Clerodendrum

About 400 species, found in tropical and subtropical regions of the Old World. There are 13 species native to southern Africa, and 14 species cultivated. A number of species formerly placed under Clerodendrum are now in the genus Rotheca. Clerodendrum was formerly placed in the Verbenaceae.

Clinopodium

One species native to southern Africa - Clinopodium myrianthum (recorded from Zimbabwe).

Endostemon

The 17 species are native mainly to Africa, with three native to southern Africa.

Englerastrum

About 20 species. The only species in southern Africa is Englerastrum schweinfurthii which is found along the Okavango and Zambesi Rivers (Caprivi area) in Namibia.

Haumaniastrum

About 130 species, native to tropical regions of the Old World. There are five species native to southern Africa.

Holostylon

About four species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Holostylon baumii found in southern Africa (Botswana).

Hoslundia

One species: Hoslundia opposita, widespread through tropical Africa and extending as far south as Mpumalanga, Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Karomia

Nine species, with one in SE Asia and 8 in Africa and Madagascar. Two species native to southern Africa: Karomia speciosa, found in Mpumalanga, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal, and Karomia tettensis (see Flora of Zimbabwe). Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

Killickia

Four species native to southern Africa.

Leonotis

About 10-15 species, all from Africa, with seven species found in southern Africa. 

Leucas

About 150 species, native mainly to Africa and Asia, with 16 species native to southern Africa.

Mentha (mints)

The 25 species are mainly found in temperate regions of the Old World. Two species are native to southern Africa and an additional five species and three hybrids are cultivated in the region.

Micromeria

One species native to southern Africa.

Neohyptis

One species: Neohyptis paniculata, distributed from West Africa down through Angola and Zambia to as far south as northern Botswana in southern Africa.

Ocimum

About 30 species, native to the tropics and subtropics, with 19 species native to southern Africa and an additional four species cultivated in the region.

Orthosiphon

About 40-50 species, distributed in the tropics of the Old World, with five species native to southern Africa.

Platostoma

Two species native to southern Africa - Platostoma rotundifolium and Platostoma strictum (recorded from Zimbabwe, see Flora of Zimbabwe).

Plectranthus

About 300 species, distributed in the tropical and warm regions of the Old World, with 74 species found in southern Africa.

Plectranthus ecklonii

Premna

About 200 species, distributed mainly in the warmer regions of the Old World, with two species in southern Africa. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

Pycnostachys

The 37 species are native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with six species found in southern Africa.

Rabdosiella

One species: Rabdosiella calycina, widespread in the eastern parts of southern Africa.

Rotheca

Species in this genus were formerly placed in Clerodendrum. There are 15 species native to southern Africa.

 

Salvia (sages)

About 900 species, distributed in temperate and tropical regions worldwide, with 26 native species and four naturalised species in southern Africa. There are an additional 23 exotic species that are cultivated in this region.

Satureja

One species native to southern Africa - Satureja biflora; in addition, two species from the Mediterranean are cultivated in the region.

Scutellaria

About 300 species, distributed widely, with one native species in southern Africa - Scutellaria schweinfurthii (recorded from Zimbabwe, see Flora of Zimbabwe). Scutellaria racemosa is native to South America and has become naturalised in southern Africa. 

Solenostemon

About 60 species, distributed in Africa, Asia and Malesia, with one species native to southern Africa - Solenostemon rotundifolius. An additional two species are cultivated in the region.

Stachys

About 300, distributed mainly in subtropical and temperate regions, with 42 species native to southern Africa. Additionally, one species is naturalised and three species are cultivated in the region.

Syncolostemon

The 38 species are endemic to southern Africa.

Tetradenia

There are six species in the genus, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with six species found in southern Africa.

Tetradenia riparia

Teucrium

About 100 species, found in temperate and warm regions worldwide but most species occurring in the Northern Hemisphere. Three species are native to southern Africa and an additional six species are cultivated in the region.

Thorncroftia

The five species are endemic to Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Tinnea

The 19 species are all African, with six species native to southern Africa.

Vitex

About 250 species, distributed in tropical and temperate regions, with 18 species found in southern Africa. Formerly placed in the family Verbenaceae.

 

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Cedronella

One species, Cedronella canariensis, native to Madeira and the Canary Islands, and a widespread weed on the Western Cape.

Hyptis

About 300 species, native to warm and tropical regions of America and Africa. Four species are naturalised in southern Africa.

Lamium

About 40 species, native mainly to the north temperate regions of the Old World. A European species, Lamium amplexicaule, has become a widespread weed in disturbed places in southern Africa. An additional two species are cultivated in the region.

Marrubium

About 30 species, native to Europe, north Africa and Asia. Marrubium vulgare is a weed in southern Africa. Additionally, Marrubium incanum (native from Italy to Albania) is cultivated in the region.

Prunella

About 5-7 species, found in the temperate regions of both hemispheres, but in southern Africa there is only the introduced Prunella vulgaris which has become naturalised in wet vleis and along forest margins in KwaZulu-Natal. Prunella grandiflora (Large selfheal), native to Europe, is cultivated in southern Africa.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

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

Acinos arvensis (Basil thyme)

Indigenous from Europe to western Asia.

 

Agastache

Two species cultivated - Agastache cana (native to Texas) and Agastache foeniculum (Anise or Giant hyssop) (native to western USA).

 

Anisomeles malabarica

Indigenous from Mauritius to Malaysia.

 

Calamintha glandulosa (Lesser calamint)

Native to southern and western Europe.

 

Callicarpa

Five species cultivated. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

 

Caryopteris

Two species cultivated - Caryopteris incana (native to China and Japan) and Caryopteris odorata (native to India).

 

Clinopodium vulgare (Wild basil)

Native to Europe.

 

Coleus thyrsoideus

Native to tropical Africa.

 

Colquhounia coccinea

Indigenous from India to China.

 

Congea tomentosa

Indigenous from India to Vietnam. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

 

Dracocephalum moldavica

Indigenous from Eurasia to China.

 

Galeobdolon luteum (Yellow archangel)

 

Glechoma hederacea (Ground ivy, Alehoof)

Indigenous from Europe to the Caucasus.

 

Gmelina

Four species cultivated. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

 

Hedeoma pulegioides (American pennyroyal)

Native to eastern USA and Canada.

 

Holmskioldia sanguinea (Chinese hat plant)

Native to India. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

 

Hyssopus officinalis (Hyssop)

Native to southern Europe.

 

Lavandula (lavenders)

Eight species and two hybrids cultivated.

Leonurus

Two species cultivated - Leonurus cardiacus (Motherwort) (native to Europe) and Leonurus sibiricus (native from eastern Siberia to China).

 

Lepechinia chamaedryoides

Native to Chile.

 

Melissa officianalis (Lemon balm)

Indigenous from Europe to Iran.

 

Moluccella laevis (Bells of Ireland, Shell flower)

Indigenous from Cyprus to Iraq.

 

Monarda

Four species cultivated.

 

Monardella undulata

Native to California.

 

Nepeta

Six species and one hybrid cultivated.

 

Origanum

Four species and one hybrid cultivated.

 

Oxera pulchella

Native to New Calidonia. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

 

Perilla frutescens (Yegoma)

Native to Southeast Asia.

 

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Native to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

Phlomis

Two species cultivated - Phlomis fruticosa (Jerusalem sage) (native to the Mediterranean) and Phlomis russellia.

 

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient plant)

Native to the USA.

 

Pogostemon

One unidentified species cultivated.

 

Prostanthera

Three species cultivated (all from eastern Australia).

 

Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)

Native to the Mediterranean region.

 

Sideritis candicans

Native to Madeira.

 

Tectona grandis (Teak, Indian teak)

Indigenous from India to Laos. Previously placed in the Verbenaceae.

 

Thymus (thymes)

Seven species and one hybrid cultivated.

 

Westringia fruticosa

Native to eastern Australia.

 

Publications

  • Retief, E. 2000. Lamiaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 323-334. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

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

 


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