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Family: Plantaginaceae (plantain 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 > Asterids > Euasterid I > Order: Lamiales

The Plantaginaceae used to be a relatively small family of about three genera and 255 species but recent studies have moved a large number of genera from the Scrophulariaceae into this family. It therefore now has about 90 genera and 1700 species, of which seven genera and 29 species are native to southern Africa and five genera and 24 species are naturalised. There are also an additional 15 genera and 53 species cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Welman (2000) and from Smithies (2000), with guidance from Angiosperm Phylogeny Website as to which genera to include (all except Plantago) used to be in the family Scrophulariaceae.


About 56 species, occurring in the tropics and subtropics, with three species native to southern Africa.



One species, Dintera pterocaulis, endemic to Namibia (Waterberg plateau).



Fourteen species, native to tropical Africa, Asia and Australia, with one species, Dopatrium junceum, in southern Africa.



About 56 species, occurring in the tropics and subtropics, with four species native to southern Africa.



About 56 species, occurring in the tropics and subtropics, with nine species native to southern Africa.



About 255 species (cosmopolitan), of which seven species are native to southern Africa, eight are naturalised and three species are cultivated in this region.

Veronica (speedwells)

About 180 species, native mainly to north temperate regions but also a few species in tropical mountains of Africa. Four species are native to southern Africa and about eight are naturalised. There are also an additional six species cultivated in southern African gardens.


Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Smithies (2000). All these genera were previously placed in the Scrophulariaceae.


The nine species are native mainly to Western Europe and Mediterranean through to Iran. Cymbalaria muralis (Ivy-leaved toadflax, Kenilworth ivy) is grown as a garden ornamental and has become naturalised in southern Africa. 


Two species cultivated: Digitalis lanata (Austrian digitalis) and Digitalis purpurea (Common foxglove); the latter is a rare escape in Zimbabwe.


About 46 species, native to West African islands, North Africa, Europe and Asia. Kickxia spuria and Kickxia elatine have become naturalised in southern Africa.



About 150 species, native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. Three species are naturalised in southern Africa, and an additional four species are cultivated in the region.



The three species occur from the Mediterranean through to northwest India. Misopates orontium is an introduced weed of cultivation in southern Africa.



Twenty species, native to tropical America. Scoparia dulcis is a cosmopolitan weed that has been introduced to 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.


Four species cultivated.


Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Native to the Mediterranean.


Four species cultivated.


Collinsia sparsiflora

Native to western USA.


Erinus alpinus

Native to southern Europe. 


Galvezia speciosa

Native to California and Mexico.



Six species and various garden varieties cultivated in southern Africa. 

Isoplexis canariensis (Cresta de gallo)

Native to the Canary Islands. 

Maurandella antirrhinifolia

Native to Texas.



Two species cultivated. 



11 species cultivated. 


Rhodochiton atrosanguineum

Native to Mexico.


Three species cultivated.


Wulfenia carinthiaca

Indigenous from Austria to Albania. 



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

  • Smithies, S.J. 2000. Scrophulariaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 508-537. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Welman, W.G. 2000. Plantaginaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 446. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.


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