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Family: Myrtaceae (eucalyptus, guava 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: Myrtales

About 131 genera and 4620 species, distributed worldwide, mainly in tropical to warm temperate regions. There are four genera and 25 species native to southern Africa, a further six genera and 23 species naturalised, and a further 21 genera and 298 species cultivated in the region. Species introduced to southern Africa originate mainly from Australia, with Eucalyptus the most prominent representative genus with 207 species introduced for cultivation (mainly for timber) of which 10 have become naturalised.

Genera native to southern Africa

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

Eugenia

About 1000 species, native to warm regions of the World, with 13 species native to southern Africa, one species naturalised, and a further five species that are cultivated in the region.

 

Heteropyxis (Lavender tree genus)

Three species, all of which are native to southern Africa. This genus is sometimes placed in its own family, the Heteropyxidae.

 

Metrosideros

About 60 species, native to Australia, New Zealand, Malay Archipelago, and to southern Africa where there is one species: Metrosideros angustifolia (Lance-leaved myrtle). In addition, there are two species cultivated in southern Africa one of which, Metrosideros excelsa (New Zealand christmas tree, New Zealand bottlebrush, Pohutukawa), is a declared Category 3 invasive plant in South Africa.

 

Syzygium (Cloves genus)

About 500 species, native to warm regions of the World, with eight species native to southern Africa, two species naturalised, and a further six species that are cultivated in the region. Cloves spice is derived from the dried flower buds of Syzygium aromaticum.

 

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

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

Callistemon

Thirty-four species, mainly endemic to Australia but there are also four species on New Caledonia island. Three species are naturalised in southern Africa and there are a further 10 species are cultivated in the region.

 

Eucalyptus

Most of the 746 species are native to Australia although there are also a few species in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. Ten species are naturalised in southern Africa and a further 197 species and nine hybrids are cultivated in the region. See also Corymbia, species of which were previously included in Eucalyptus.

 

Leptospermum

About 80-86 species, native mainly to Australia but also New Zealand and Malaysia. Leptospermum laevigatum (Australian myrtle) has become naturalised in South Africa (Western Cape) where it is a declared Category 1 invasive plant. There are an additional seven species that are cultivated in southern Africa.

Myrtus

About 100 species, native to South America and Australia. Myrtus communis is naturalised in southern Africa (Western Cape).

 

Psidium (guava genus)

About 100 species, native from North America to Brazil. Three species and one hybrid are cultivated and naturalised in southern Africa, including Psidium guajava (Guava). An additional species is cultivated but not naturalised in the region.

Psidium guajava (Guava)

Syncarpia

Syncarpia glomulifera (Turpentine tree) is native to eastern Australia and has become naturalised in southern Africa. In addition, Syncarpia hillii (Satinay, Fraser Island turpentine) is native to northeastern Australia and is cultivated in the region.

 

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). A species is listed if it is the only representative of the genus cultivated in southern Africa.

Acca sellowiana (Pineapple guava)

[= Feijoa sellowiana]

Native to Brazil and Uruguay. See Wikipedia

 

Acmena smithii (Lilly pilly)

Native to northeastern Australia.

 

Agonis

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

 

Angophora

Two species cultivated, both native to eastern Australia: Angophora costata (Smooth-barked apple) and Angophora floribunda (Rough-barked apple). Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora are closely related and collectively known as eucalypts. See Wikipedia

Angophora costata

Astartea fascicularis

Native to western Australia. See Wikipedia

 

Babingtonia virgata

Native to Australia.

 

Backhousia citriodora (Lemon ironwood, Lemon myrtle)

Native to northeastern Australia. See Wikipedia

 

Calothamnus

About 39 species, endemic to southwestern Australia. Five species are cultivated in southern Africa.

 

Calytrix tetragona (Fringe myrtle)

Native to western Australia.

 

Chamelaucium uncinatum (Geraldton waxflower)

Native to western Australia. See Wikipedia

 

Corymbia

The 91 species in this genus were previously included in Eucalyptus and all are native to Australia; 13 of them are cultivated in southern Africa.

Kunzea

Two species cultivated: Kunzea baxteri (native to western Australia) and Kunzea ericoides (Kanuka) (native to eastern Australia and New Zealand). See Wikipedia

 

Lophomyrtus obcordata

Native to New Zealand.

 

Lophostemon

Two species cultivated: Lophostemon confertus (Australian box, Brush box) (native to eastern Australia), and Lophostemon suaveolens (Swamp box) (native to northeastern Australia). See Wikipedia.

Lophostemon confertus

Melaleuca (Tea tree genus)

Over 200 species, native mainly to Australia but also Malesia and New Caledonia. Twenty-seven species are cultivated in southern Africa. Melaleuca alternifolia is the main source of tea tree oil.

Melaleuca styphelioides (Prickly paperbark)

Myrcia citrifolia (Red rodwood)

Native to Brazil.

 

Pimenta

Two species cultivated: Pimenta dioica (Pimento, Allspice), native from Mexico to Nicaragua (see Wikipedia); and Pimenta racemosa (Bay rum tree, West Indian bay tree), native to the Caribbean (see Wikipedia).

 

Plinia cauliflora (Jaboticaba)

Native to Brazil.

 

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa

Native from China to Indonesia.

Rhodomyrtus tomentosa [photo Franz Xaver ; from Wikipedia, used under the GNU Free Documentation Licence]

Thryptomene saxicola (Rock thryptomene)

Native to western Australia.

 

Tristaniopsis laurina (Water gum)

Native to eastern Australia. See Wikipedia

 

Publications

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

 

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