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Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae (aloe family)

[= Hemerocallidaceae, Asphodelaceae]

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

Thirty-five genera and about 900 species, with a world-wide distribution (excluding polar regions). A total of 10 genera and 446 species are native to southern Africa, one species is naturalised and an additional five genera and 17 species are cultivated in the region. Families Asphodelaceae and Hemerocallidaceae have been included as subfamilies within the Xanthorrhoeaceae.

Genera native to southern Africa

Information from Meyer (2000), Smith & Meyer (2000) and Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Aloe

About 500 species, native to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Socotra and Madagascar, and naturalised in Australia, the Mediterranean, India, China, South America and the Caribean Islands. A total of 138 species are native to southern Africa, one species is naturalised and a further seven species are cultivated in the region. Previously in the Asphodelaceae, which has been sunk under Xanthorrhoeaceae.

Aloe ferox

Astroloba

Endemic to Western and Eastern Cape, where seven species are known. Previously in the Asphodelaceae, which has been sunk under Xanthorrhoeaceae.

 

Bulbine

A total of 69 species are native to southern Africa.  

Bulbinella

A total of 23 species, with 17 native to southern Africa and six native to New Zealand. Previously in the Asphodelaceae, which has been sunk under Xanthorrhoeaceae.

Caesia

Thirteen species: nine native to Australia, one from Madagascar and three native to southern Africa.

 

Chortolirion

Three species globally, of which two are native to southern Africa - Chortolirion angolense and Chortolirion tenuifolium (recorded from Zimbabwe).

 

Gasteria

A total of 22 species, all endemic to southern Africa.  

Gasteria excelsa

Haworthia

A total of 87 species, all endemic to southern Africa, mainly in Western and Eastern Cape.

Kniphofia (red-hot pokers)

About 70 species found mainly in Africa but with one species in Madagascar and one in the South Arabian Peninsula. A total of 46 species are native to southern Africa.

Trachyandra

About 56 species, all African. A total of 55 species are native in southern Africa, most of them in the winter rainfall area of the Western Cape.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002), where these genera are placed under Liliaceae.

Asphodeline lutea (Yellow asphodel)

Native to the Mediterranean. Previously in the Asphodelaceae, which has been sunk under Xanthorrhoeaceae.

 

Asphodelus (asphodels)

Two species cultivated.

 

Dianella (flax lilies)

Three species cultivated.

 

Hemerocallis

Native to Europe, China, Japan and Korea. Cultivated for their flowers, including in gardens in southern Africa. At least three species cultivated in southern Africa.

Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)

Native to New Zealand.

Phormium tenax (New Zealand flax)

Publications

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Meyer, N.L. 2000. Anthericaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa: Families and Genera (Ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria, pp. 576-577.

  • Smith, G.F. & Meyer, N.L. 2000. Asphodelaceae. In: Seed plants of southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 582-586. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

  • Sölch, A., Roessler, H. & Merxmüller, H. 1970. Liliaceae. Prodromus einer flora von Südwestafrika 147: 1-75.

Text by Hamish Robertson


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