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Family: Rubiaceae (gardenia, coffee and quinine 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: Gentianales

A large family of 630 genera and about 10200 species found worldwide but particularly in tropical and warm regions. Eighty genera and 349 species are native to southern Africa, an additional two genera and six species are naturalised, and an additional 18 genera and 43 species that are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Retief & Leistner (2000), Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI), Flora of Zimbabwe and Flora of Mozambique.

Afrocanthium

Three species are native to southern Africa.

Agathisanthemum

About six species, native to tropical Africa and the Comoro Islands, with three species native to southern Africa.

Aidia

Thirteen species, distributed through the Old World tropics as well as Australia. One species, Aidia micrantha, is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Alberta

Five species, four in Madagascar and one, Alberta magna (Natal flame bush, Breekhout), native to southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape).

Amphiasma

Six species, native to tropical and southwestern Africa, with three species native to southern Africa.

Ancylanthos

Five species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Ancylanthos rubiginosus, native to southern Africa (see Flora of Zimbabwe).

Anthospermum

A total of 40 species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with 26 species native to southern Africa.

Breonadia

One species, Breonadia salicina (Matumi, Rhodesian redwood), native to tropical Africa and Madagascar; an important timber tree. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Burchellia

One species, Burchellia bubalina (Wild pomegranate), endemic to southern Africa.

Burttdavya

One species: Burttdavya nyasica, native to Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. See Flora of Mozambique.

 

Canthium

About 52 species, found in tropical areas of the Old World, with 13 species native to southern Africa.  

Carpacoce

Seven species, endemic to the Western and Eastern Cape.

Carphalea

A total of 14 species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with one species, Carphalea pubescens, native to southern Africa (Namibia and Botswana). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Catunaregam

About 10-15 species, occurring in tropical Africa, Madagascar and Asia, with three species native to southern Africa.

Cephalanthus

About six species, native to tropical regions and North America, with one species, Cephalanthus natalensis (Strawberry bush) (see Flora of Zimbabwe), native to southern Africa and a further species, Cephalanthus occidentalis (Button bush) (native from eastern Canada to Cuba) that is cultivated in the region.

Chassalia

Forty-two species, native to the Old World tropics, mainly Madagascar. One species, Chassalia parvifolia, is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique).

 

Chazaliella

About 25 species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Chazaliella abrupta (False bird-berry), native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Coddia

One species, Coddia rudis, endemic to southern Africa.

Coffea

A total of 40 species, occurring in the Old World tropics, with six species native to southern Africa and a further four species that are cultivated in southern Africa. Coffee is produced mainly from Coffea arabica (Arabian coffee, Arabica coffee) although other species are also used, to a much lesser extent.

Coffea arabica (Arabian coffee, Arabica coffee)

Conostomium

A total of nine species, native to the eastern regions of Africa, with three species native to southern Africa.

Coptosperma

About 50 species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with six species native to southern Africa.

Craterispermum

Sixteen species, native to tropical Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles, with one species, Craterispermum schweinfurthii, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Cremaspora

Three or four species, native to tropical Africa and the Comores, with one species, Cremaspora triflora, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Crossopteryx

One species, Crossopteryx febrifuga (Common crown-berry, Crystal bark), native to tropical Africa, including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa (Limpopo Province). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Didymosalpinx

Four species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Didymosalpinx norae, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

 

Diodia

About 30-50 species, native mainly to North America, but also found in Africa. One species, Diodia sarmentosa, is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique; see Flora of Zimbabwe) and Diodia dasycephala has become naturalised as a roadside weed in the Eastern Cape.

 

Eriosemopsis

The sole species, Eriosemopsis subanisophylla, is endemic to southern Africa (southern KwaZulu-Natal and northern Eastern Cape).

Fadogia

About 45 species, found in tropical Africa, with six species native to southern Africa.

Feretia

Two species, native to tropical Africa, with one, Feretia aeruginescens, extending into southern Africa (Namibia, Zimbabwe). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Gaillonia

Total of 17 species, native to Africa and Asia, with one species, Gaillonia crocyllis, endemic to southern Namibia and Northern Cape. 

Galium

About 400 species, found worldwide, with 16 species native to southern Africa.

Galopina

Four species with a distribution extending from southern Malawi southwards, with all four native to the southeastern regions of southern Africa.

Gardenia

About 60 species, native to tropical and warm regions of the Old World, with nine species native to southern Africa and a further species that is cultivated in the region.

Geophila

About 20 species, found in the tropics, with two species native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique).

 

Guettarda

About 60 species, native mainly to New Caledonia and tropical America, but with one species, Guettarda speciosa, native to southern Africa, found on vegetated dunes of northern KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique.

Heinsenia

One species: Heinsenia diervilleoides, native to tropical Africa, including Zimbabwe and Mozambique. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Heinsia

Five species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Heinsia crinita, native to southern Africa (Limpopo Province in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique). See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Hymenodictyon

Twenty species, found in the Old World, with two species native to southern Africa and a further species that is cultivated in the region.

Hyperacanthus

Two species, native to tropical Africa with both of them having distributions extending into southern Africa.

Ixora

About 300 species, native to the tropics, with one species, Ixora narcissodora, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique). An additional six species are cultivated in the region.

Keetia

About 40 species, occurring in tropical Africa, with two species native to southern Africa.

Kohautia

About 60 species, native to the Old World tropics, with 16 species native to southern Africa.

Kraussia

Three species, native to tropical Africa, with the distribution of one of them, Kraussia floribunda (Rhino coffee), extending into southern Africa.

Lagynias

Four species, native to tropical Africa, with three of them native to southern Africa.

Lasianthus

About 170 species, native to tropical Africa, and from Indomalesia to Australia. One species, Lasianthus kilimandscharicus, is native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique) - see Flora of Zimbabwe.

Leptactina

A total of 25 species, occurring in tropical Africa, with three species native to southern Africa.

Mitriostigma

Five species, native to tropical Africa, with the distribution of one species, Mitriostigma axillare (Dwarf loquat), extending into southern Africa.

Multidentia

Eleven species, all native to tropical Africa, with two species extending into southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

Mussaenda

About 100 species, native to the Old World tropics, with one species, Mussaenda arcuata, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique). An additional seven species are cultivated in southern Africa. 

Nenax

Nine species, endemic to southern Africa.

Oldenlandia

About 300 species, tropical in distribution, particularly Africa, with 16 species native to southern Africa.

Otiophora

Twenty species, occurring in tropical Africa and Madagascar, with five species native to southern Africa.

Otomeria

Eight species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with one species, Otomeria elatior, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

Oxyanthus

About 40 species, with five species native to southern Africa.

Pachystigma

The 10 species are found in the warmer regions of Africa, with all of them occurring in southern Africa.

Paederia

The 20 species are found in tropical regions, with one, Paederia bojeriana, native to East Africa and southern Africa, including South Africa (Limpopo), Zimbabwe and Mozambique - see Flora of Zimbabwe.

Paraknoxia

One species: Paraknoxia parviflora, recorded from Zimbabwe.

Pauridiantha

About 25 species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Pauridiantha symplocoides, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique) - see Flora of Zimbabwe.

Pavetta

About 400 species, found in the Old World tropics, with 35 species native to southern Africa.

Pavetta lanceolata

Pentanisia

Fifteen species, native to tropical Africa, with four species native to southern Africa.

Pentas

About 34 species, native to Africa, Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar, with five species native to southern Africa and a further three species that are cultivated in the region.

Pentodon

Two species, with a wide distribution in warm and tropical America, Africa, Arabian Peninsula and Seychelles. One species, Pentodon pentandrus, is native to southern Africa (see Flora of Zimbabwe, where it is split into var. pentandrus and var. minor).

Phylohydrax

Two species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with one of them, Phylohydrax carnosa, native to southern Africa.

Polysphaeria

About 20 species, native to tropical Africa, Madagascar and the Comores with one species, Polysphaeria lanceolata, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe) - see Flora of Zimbabwe.

Psychotria

About 1400 species, occurring in the tropics, with eight species native to southern Africa and a further species cultivated in the region.

Psychotria capensis

Psydrax

About 100 species, native to the Old World tropics, with nine species native to southern Africa.

Pygmaeothamnus

Four species, native to tropical Africa, with two species native to southern Africa.

Pyrostria

About 45 species, native to Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius, with two species native to southern Africa.

Rothmannia

About 40 species, native to tropical Africa, Asia and the Seychelles, with five species native to southern Africa.  

Rothmannia capensis

Rubia

About 60 species, native to Africa, temperate Asia and America, with three species native to southern Africa.

Rutidea

About 22 species, native to tropical Africa and Madagascar, with two species native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).

 

Rytigynia

About 70 species, native to tropical Africa, with five species native to southern Africa.

Sericanthe

Seventeen species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Sericanthe andongensis, native to southern Africa, where it occurs in South Africa (Limpopo Province), Zimbabwe and Mozambique. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

Spermacoce

About 100 species worldwide, with 15 species native to southern Africa.

Tapiphyllum

About 20 species, native to tropical Africa, with one species, Tapiphyllum velutinum, native to southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Mozambique) - see Flora of Zimbabwe.

 

Tarenna

About 180 species, native to the Old World tropics, with four species native to southern Africa.

Triainolepis

About two species, native to tropical east Africa, Madagascar, the Comores and Aldabra, with one species, Triainolepis sancta, native to southern Africa (Mozambique).

 

Tricalysia

About 100 species, native to tropical regions of the Old World, with 17 species native to southern Africa.

Vangueria

A total of 27 species, found in tropical Africa and Madagascar, with 10 species native to southern Africa.

Vangueriopsis

The 18 species are native to tropical Africa, with one species, Vangueriopsis lanciflora, native to southern Africa (Namibia, Zimbabwe) - see Flora of Zimbabwe.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Retief & Leistner (2000) and Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Richardia

Total of 15 species, native to tropical America, with four naturalised in the eastern parts of southern Africa.

Sherardia

The only species, Sherardia arvensis, is native to Europe, Mediterranean and West Asia, and has become naturalised in southern Africa. See Flora of Zimbabwe.

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.

Asperula tinctoria (Dyer's woodruff)

Native to the Mediterranean.

 

Bouvardia ternifolia

Native to southern USA and Mexico.

 

Cinchona (Peruvian bark, Quinine trees)

There are about 40 species, all native to Central and South America. At least one, unidentified, species has been cultivated in southern Africa. The genus is best known as the source of quinine, which is derived from the bark of these trees. Quinine has, and still is, used in the treatment of malaria.

 

Coprosma

About 90 species, native to east Malesia, Australia and the Pacific. Four species are cultivated in southern Africa.

Crucianella angustifolia

Native from Portugal to Turkey.

 

Hamelia patens

Native from Florida to Brazil.

 

Hoffmannia refulgens

Native to Mexico.

 

Luculia gratissima

Native to India.

 

Manettia luteo-rubra

Native from Brazil to Uruguay.

 

Morinda citrifolia (Indian mulberry)

Native from tropical Asia to Australia.

 

Myrmecodia beccarii

Native to northeastern Australia.

 

Nauclea orientalis (Kauluang)

Native from Burma to northern Australia.

 

Palicourea gardenioides

Native to Mexico.

 

Phuopsis stylosa

 

Posoqueria latifolia (Brazilian oak)

Native to tropical America.

 

Rondeletia

Two species cultivated: Rondeletia amoena (native to Mexico) and Rondeletia odorata (native to Cuba).

 

Serissa japonica (Niklande)

Native from Japan to Indonesia.

 

Publications

  • Bridson, D.M. 1998. Rubiaceae. Flora Zambesiaca 5,2: 211-377.

  • Bridson, D.M. & Verdcourt, B. 1988. Flora of Tropical East Africa. Rubiaceae (part 2): 415-747.

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

  • Launert, E. 1966. Rubiaceae. Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika 115: 1-27.

  • Retief, E. & Leistner, O.A. 2000. Rubiaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 476-495. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Verdcourt, B. 1976. Flora of Tropical East Africa. Rubiaceae (part 1): 1-414.

  • Verdcourt, B. 1989. Rubiaceae. Flora Zambesiaca 5,1: 1-210.

  • Verdcourt, B. & Bridson, D.M. 1991. Flora of Tropical East Africa. Rubiaceae (part 3): 1-956.

 

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