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Family: Malvaceae (Hibiscus, Okra, Baobab, Balsa and Cocoa family)

[= Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, Tiliaceae]

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: Malvales

About 243 genera and 4225 species worldwide; 31 genera and 401 species are native to southern Africa, a further eight genera and 20 species are naturalised, and a further 32 genera and 98 species are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

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

Abutilon

There are about 100 species worldwide, occurring mainly in the tropics and subtropics. Twenty species are native to southern Africa, one species is naturalised, and a further three species are cultivated in the region.

Abutilon sonneratianum

Adansonia (Baobab genus)

Eight species, native to tropical Africa, Madagascar and Australia. The only African species is the Baobab Adansonia digitata. Five non-African species have been cultivated in southern Africa. Adansonia was formerly placed in the family Bombacaceae.

Althaea

Twelve species worldwide, mainly northern hemisphere. Althaea ludwigii is the only species native to southern Africa (Namibia and Northern Cape). In addition, Althaea cannabina is cultivated in the region.

Anisodontea

Nineteen species, endemic to southern Africa; found mainly in karoo and fynbos.

Anisodontea julii

Azanza

The two or three species are all African; Azanza garckeana, is native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Carpodiptera

Eight species worldwide - seven in tropical America and one, Carpodiptera africana, occurring in southern Africa (Mozambique).

Cienfuegosia

About 26 species worldwide, found in tropical and subtropical Africa and America. Three species are native to southern Africa, and an additional species is cultivated in the region.

Clappertonia

Two species in Africa, of which one Clappertonia ficifolia is native to southern Africa (Mozambique). See Flora of Mozambique.

Cola

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Over 100 species, all African. Three species native to southern Africa and a further species is cultivated in the region. Cola acuminata (Cola nut tree or Abata kola) is native to West Africa and the seeds, termed cola nuts, are chewed for their stimulatory effect, caused by caffeine and small amounts of theobromine. Cola soft drinks were originally flavoured with cola nut extracts but synthetic chemicals are now used.

Corchorus (jute genus)

Formerly in Tiliaceae. About 100 species worldwide, widespread in tropics and subtropics. Nineteen species are native to southern Africa and a further two species are cultivated in the region. Corchorus olitorius (Tossa jute) and Corchorus capsularis (White jute) are cultivated for the production of jute fibre, which is used for producing hessian (or burlap in USA) fabric.

Dombeya

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Over 300 species worldwide, native to Africa, Arabian Peninsula, Madagascar, Comores and Mascarenes. There are 19 African species of which nine are native to southern Africa. A further species and hybrid are cultivated in the region.

Glyphaea

Two species in tropical Africa, of which one Glyphaea grewioides occurs in southern Africa (Mozambique). See Flora of Mozambique.

Gossypioides

Two species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar; Gossypioides kirkii is native to southern Africa.

Gossypium (cotton genus)

About 39 species worldwide, native to tropics and warm temperate regions. Three species are native to southern Africa, another species is naturalised and an additional three species have been cultivated in the region. Gossypium hirsutum from Mexico has become the predominant species in commercial cotton production worldwide.

Grewia

Formerly in Tiliaceae. More than 400 species worldwide, native to Africa, Asia and Australia. There are 35 species native to southern Africa.

Grewia flava

Hermannia

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. About 180 species, found mainly in Africa but also in America and Australia. The greatest diversity is in southern Africa with 148 species. 

Hibiscus

About 300 species worldwide, occurring mainly in the tropics and subtropics. Sixty-one species are native to southern Africa, four species are naturalised, and an additional nine species are cultivated in the region.

Hibiscus trionum

Hildegardia

One species native to southern Africa - Hildegardia migeodii (recorded from Mozambique).

Kosteletzkya

About 50 species worldwide, mainly in tropical America. Kosteletzkya adoensis (recorded from Zimbabwe) and Kosteletzkya buettneri (see Flora of Zimbabwe) are the only species native to southern Africa.

Melhania

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. About 60 species worldwide, occurring from Africa to India. There are 13 species native to southern Africa. 

Melochia

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. There are 54 species, native to the Old World tropics. Melochia corchorifolia (see Flora of Zimbabwe) and Melochia melissifolia (recorded from Mozambique), are the only species native to southern Africa. .

Pavonia

About 150 species, widespread in tropics and subtropics, especially the Americas. Fifteen species are native to southern Africa and a further species is cultivated in the region.

Radyera

Two species: Radyera urens is native to southern Africa and the other species is native to Australia. 

Sida

About 150 species, distributed in the tropics and subtropics, especially in the Americas. There are 13 species native to southern Africa.

Sparrmannia

Formerly in Tiliaceae. About seven species worldwide, native to Africa and Madagascar. Two species are native to southern Africa.

Sparrmannia africana

Sterculia

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. About 300 species worldwide, found mainly in tropics. Five species are native to southern Africa and a further species is cultivated in the region.

Thespesia

About 17 species, found mainly in the tropics. Thespesia acutiloba (Wild tulip tree) (see Flora of Zimbabwe) is the only species native to southern Africa where it is found along the coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, Thespesia lampas (native from India to Vietnam) and Thespesia populnea (Portia tree) (pantropical) are cultivated in the region.

Triplochiton

One species native to southern Africa: Triplochiton zambesiacus (recorded from Zimbabwe). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Triumfetta

Formerly in Tiliaceae. About 100 species worldwide, native to the tropics and subtropics especially diverse in Africa. Sixteen species are native to southern Africa.

Waltheria

Sixty-seven species worldwide, found mainly in the tropics and subtropics with the main concentration of species in Central and South America. Waltheria indica is the only species native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Wissadula

About 40 species, found mainly in tropical America. Wissadula rostrata is the only species native to southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

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

Abelmoschus

Fifteen species, native to the old world. Best known is Abelmoschus esculentus (see Flora of Zimbabwe), commonly known as Okra or Lady's Finger, which is cultivated in the tropics and subtropics for its edible fruit. This species can sometimes grow wild in southern Africa. Abelmoschus manihot is also cultivated in the region.

Anoda

Twelve species, native to tropical America. Anoda cristata is a minor introduced weed in southern Africa.

Lavatera

About 23 species worldwide. Four species have been introduced to southern Africa and become naturalised and a further four species are cultivated in the region.

Malva

About 30 species worldwide, with four species naturalised in southern Africa and a further two species cultivated in the region.  

Malvastrum

About 12 species worldwide, native to warm-temperate to tropical Americas. Malvastrum coromandelianum (see Flora of Zimbabwe) has been introduced to southern Africa and become naturalised.

Modiola

One species: Modiola caroliniana, native to tropical America. Has been introduced to southern Africa and become naturalised.

Sphaeralcea

About 60 species, native to the arid parts of the Americas. Sphaeralcea bonariensis has been introduced to southern Africa and become naturalised.

Urena

Urena lobata (see Flora of Zimbabwe) is the only species and is a pantropical weed that possibly originates from Asia. In southern Africa it has become naturalised in Namibia and Mpumalanga.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

Based on Glen (2002). Number of species recorded as being cultivated in southern Africa is given in square brackets. This list excludes genera with naturalised species to southern Africa, which have already been listed above.

Abroma augustum (Devil's cotton)

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native from India to Malaysia.

 

Alcea rosea (Hollyhock)

Native to China.

 

Bombacopsis glabra

Formerly in Bombacaceae. Native to Central America.

 

Bombax

Formerly in Bombacaceae. Two species cultivated: Bombax ceiba (Red cotton tree) (native to tropical Asia), and Bombax rhodognaphalon (native to Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique).

 

Bombycidendron vidalianum

Native to the Philippines.

 

Brachychiton (flame tree genus)

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Seven species cultivated.

Brachychiton acerifolius (Australian Flame Tree)

Callirhoe involucrata

Native to the USA.

 
Ceiba

Four species worldwide. The Kapok Tree Ceiba pentandra, from which kapok for mattresses is derived, has been cultivated on a small scale in subtropical areas of southern Africa and is sometimes found growing among natural vegetation in KwaZulu-Natal. In addition, Ceiba aesculifolia (native to Mexico) is cultivated in southern Africa.

Chorisia

Formerly in Bombacaceae. Three species cultivated.

 

Corchoropsis tomentosa (Karasu-no-goma)

Formerly in Tiliaceae. Native to Japan, Korea and China.

 

Firmiana

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Two species cultivated: Firmiana colorata (Khowsey, Walena) (native from India to Indonesia) and Firmiana simplex (Chinese parasol tree) (native from Japan to Vietnam).

 

Fremontodendron

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Two species cultivated: Fremontodendron californicum and Fremontodendron mexicanum (both native to California and Mexico).

 

Guazuma ulmifolia (Bastard cedar, West Indian elm)

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native from Mexico to Paraguay.

 

Guichenotia macrantha

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native to Western Australia.

 

Helicteres isora (Kaivum)

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native to tropical Asia.

 

Heritiera littoralis (Menkulang)

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native to the Old World tropics.

 

Hoheria

Three species cultivated (all native to New Zealand).

 

Kitaibelia vitifolia

Native to Serbia.

 

Kleinhovia hospita

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native to tropical Asia and Australia.

 

Lagunaria patersonii (Pyramid tree, Kangaroo apple)

Native to northeastern Australia.

 

Lasiopetalum baueri

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native to Australia.

 

Luehea

Formerly in Tiliaceae. Two species cultivated: Luehea divaricata (native from Brazil to Argentina) and Luehea speciosa (Whip tree) (native from Mexico to Venezuela).  

 

Malvaviscus

One species cultivated: Malvaviscus arboreus (native from Texas to Brazil).

 

Ochroma pyramidale (Balsa)

Formerly in Bombacaceae. Native from Mexico to Bolivia. See Wikipedia

 

Pachira

Formerly in Bombacaceae. Two species cultivated: Pachira aquatica (Water chestnut) (native from Mexico to Brazil) and Pachira insignis (False chestnut) (native from Puerto Rico to Brazil).

 

Pseudobombax ellipticum (Shaving-brush tree)

Formerly in Bombacaceae. Native from Mexico to Nicaragua.

 

Pterospermum

About 25 species, native to Asia, with five species cultivated in southern Africa. Previously placed in Sterculiaceae.

 

Reevesia thyrsoidea

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native to China.

 

Sidalcea candida

Native to the USA.

 

Sphaeralcea

About 40-60 species, native to the Americas. Three species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Theobroma cacao (Cocoa)

Formerly in Sterculiaceae. Native from Mexico to Brazil and widely cultivated in tropical regions for cocoa from which chocolate is produced. It has been cultivated in southern Africa, but not on a large scale.

Tilia (linden genus)

Formerly in Tiliaceae. About 30 species, native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Seven species and two hybrids are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

References

  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Bombacaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa: Families and Genera (Ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, p. 178.

  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Tiliaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa: Families and Genera (Ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, pp. 547-548.

  • Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Sterculiaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa: Families and Genera (Ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, pp. 539-541.

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

  • Leistner, O.A. & Bredenkamp, C.L. 2000. Malvaceae (in strict sense). In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa: Families and Genera (Ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, pp. 347-352.

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.

Text by Hamish Robertson 


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