GERMISHUIZEN, G. & MEYER, N.L. (eds) 2003. Plants of southern
Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.
Southern Africa has the richest temperate flora in the world and
encompasses a rich floristic diversity of approximately 24 000 taxa
(species and infraspecific taxa) of 368 families, including more
than 10% of the world’s vascular plant flora on less than 2.5% of
the earth’s land surface area. Accurate coverage of this remarkable
flora has been made possible at the species level through PRECIS
(National Herbarium, Pretoria (PRE) Computerised Information
System), maintained by the National Botanical Institute. PRECIS
includes all indigenous and naturalised plants recorded from the
same area as the Flora of southern Africa (Namibia, Botswana, South
Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho). This book is largely based on PRECIS
and includes data on life cycle, life form, height of plant and
altitude together with updated information on literature references,
synonyms and regional distribution. Families are grouped into seven
more or less natural assemblages: Bryophyta, Hepatophyta,
Anthocerotophyta, Pteridophyta, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons and
Southern Africa has the richest temperate flora in the world and encompasses a rich floristic diversity of approximately
24 000 taxa (species and infraspecific taxa) of 368 families, including more than 10% of the world’s vascular plant flora
on less than 2.5% of the earth’s land surface area. Accurate coverage of this remarkable flora has been made possible at
the species level through PRECIS (National Herbarium, Pretoria (PRE) Computerised Information System), maintained
by the National Botanical Institute. PRECIS includes all indigenous and naturalised plants recorded from the same area
as the Flora of southern Africa (FSA): the subcontinent south of the Kunene, Okavango, Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers.
The first list of southern African plants published from PRECIS was the List of species of southern African plants
(Gibbs Russell et al. 1984), which comprised a basic list of names in current use. It was followed by a second edition
which appeared in two parts and included synonyms and references to recent literature. Part 1 (Gibbs Russell et
al. 1985) covered the bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and monocotyledons. Part 2 (Gibbs Russell et al.
1987) covered the dicotyledons. Updates were listed in Bothalia from 1988 to 1991. The third edition in the series,
Plants of southern Africa: names and distribution edited by T.H. Arnold & B.C. de Wet, appeared in 1993, with
regional distribution data as an additional feature.
The current publication, the fourth edition in the series, has been expanded to include data on life cycle, life form,
height of plant and altitude together with the updated information on literature references, synonyms and regional
distribution. These data are based largely on the herbarium collections of the National Botanical Institute and are
therefore inevitably incomplete. They nevertheless provide a useful checklist of the plants of southern Africa.
Changes over ten years
The southern African flora is extremely diverse and many groups are not well known or well documented, with
the most recent revisions often going back 50 years or more. When any of these groups are revised, numerous and
often radical changes sometimes have to be made, resulting in a relatively high annual incidence of changes in
names and concepts. We have compared the numbers of families, genera, species and taxa given ten years ago in
Arnold & De Wet (1993) to the numbers reflected in the current work (see Table). Certain names no longer appear
in the current list because they are no longer considered relevant to the southern African flora.
TABLE - Numbers of families, genera, species and taxa (species plus infraspecific
taxa) in Arnold & De Wet (1993) and in the current work (2003)
Arrangement and circumscription of families, genera, species
and infraspecific taxa
Family, genus and species names and synonyms are given in alphabetical
sequence. Current names are in bold. Synonyms are printed in italics.
Families are primarily grouped into seven more or less natural assemblages:
Bryophyta (pp. 1–37); Hepatophyta (pp. 39–61); Anthocerotophyta (pp. 63, 64); Pteridophyta (pp.
65–86); Gymnosperms (pp. 87–90); Dicotyledons (pp. 91–951); and Monocotyledons (pp. 953–1216). The classification of the gymnosperms, dicotyledons and monocotyledons
mainly follows Leistner (2000).
A genus name is abbreviated to its initial letter only in that part of the list dealing with that particular genus. Genus
names that are used only as synonyms in the FSA region are given in italics even if they are considered to be current
names outside our area. The seven-digit numbers that follow main genus entries in this work are those used in the
PRECIS database of the National Botanical Institute. They do not necessarily reflect phylogenetic relationships
between taxa, but are retained as a useful tool for herbarium workers.
A synonym of a species or subspecific name appears twice: in the complete alphabetical listing of names under
the genus, and again indented and in smaller type below the accepted name of which it is considered to be a synonym.
In the latter case it is followed by one or more literature reference numbers in brackets.
Naturalised taxa are marked with an asterisk before the name.
Author citations are according to Brummitt & Powell (1992).
Most literature entries given in Arnold & De Wet (1993) have been
retained. New and other relevant literature have been added. Most titles are given in full. Entries are chronologically
Floras are cited by the following abbreviations:
||Conspectus florae angolensis
||Flora of tropical Africa
||Flora of tropical East Africa
|| Flora of southern Africa
|| Flora of West tropical Africa
|| Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika
|| Flora zambesiaca
Examples of species information
Life cycle: Annual, biennial or perennial.
Life form: Bryophyte, climber, dwarf shrub, epiphyte,
geophyte, graminoid, herb, hydrophyte, lithophyte, parasite,
scrambler, shrub, succulent, suffrutex or tree.
Height of plant: Ht x–xx mm/m, up to xx mm/m
or ± xx mm/m.
Altitude where plants occur, if known: Alt xx–xxxx
m, up to xxxx m or ± xxxx m.
Distribution: Countries and RSA provinces abbreviated
and given in the following order (see Map): N, B, LIM, NW,
G, M, S, FS, KZN, L, NC, WC, EC. Where current distribution
records are unknown because of old herbarium collections with
incomplete information, abbreviations of old province are
given, for example Cape Province (‘CP’) and Transvaal
(‘TV’ or ‘Tvl’), or South Africa (‘SA’)
and Republic of South Africa (‘RSA’).
The Index guides the reader to the main entries of genera
Most compilers of this work are staff of one of the three
herbaria of the National Botanical Institute, namely the Compton
Herbarium, National Herbarium and Natal Herbarium. The following
persons from outside the Institute contributed:
Dr Peter Bruyns of the Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape
Mr Ingo Breuer, Germany;
Prof. Christopher Cook formerly of the Botanical Garden and
Institute for Systematic Botany, University of Zürich;
Mr Tony Dold, of the Selmar Schonland Herbarium, Rhodes University;
Dr Neil J. Griffin of the International Ocean Institute of
Southern Africa, University of the Western Cape;
Dr Leanne Dreyer of the Botany Department, University of Stellenbosch;
Dr Peter Goldblatt of the Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis;
Dr Cornelia Klak of the Bolus Herbarium, University of Cape
Eric B. Knox of the Department of Biology, Indiana University,
Ms Anna Moteetee of the Botany Department, Rand Afrikaans
Dr Ashley Nicholas of the Botany Department, University of
Dr Peter Phillipson, Paris;
Mr Marcus Quint, Germany;
Dr Pat Tilney of the Botany Department, Rand Afrikaans University;
Prof. Ben-Erik van Wyk of the Botany Department, Rand Afrikaans
Prof. Johan Venter of the Department of Botany and Genetics,
University of the Free State;
and Dr Graham Williamson, Bergvliet, Cape Town.
We sincerely thank the Executive of the National Botanical
Institute, specifically Prof. Brian Huntley and Prof. Gideon
Smith, for the opportunity to edit this work. We thank Hannelie
Snyman and Carole de Wet of IT Management, Pretoria, for help
with downloading the PRECIS information and for easy access
to and upkeep of PRECIS. The Publications Section of the NBI
played a crucial role in the production of the work and saw
it through the press: Emsie du Plessis is thanked for preparing
all the text for typesetting; she also saw to it that compilers
received their contributions for proofreading and carefully
transferred their corrections onto copies for the typesetter;
she painstakingly compiled the index. Sarie Brink typeset
the entire book. Sandra Turck designed the striking cover;
we had only one request—it had to be a ‘Black
Book’, in the tradition of its predecessor! Louisa Liebenberg
gave us support throughout and handled the budget for production
of the book. We are indebted to Dr Otto Leistner for his initial
input as editor during the early stages of the project and
for his invaluable advice to our team. Marinda Koekemoer,
Curator of the National Herbarium, is thanked for co-ordinating
initial information and progress sessions for compilers at
the Herbarium. Support given by the staff of the Mary Gunn
and Harry Molteno Libraries is much appreciated. We thank
all collaborators, especially those from outside the Institute
listed above. We are also most grateful to various other non-NBI
colleagues who supplied information or assisted our compilers
in some way. A special word of thanks to Herbarium assistants
and other Herbarium staff who helped in various ways to collate
much of the information. Lyn Fish and Jacques van Rooy are
thanked for acting as couriers between one of us (N.L.M.)
and the National Herbarium.
G. Germishuizen & N.L. Meyer
Pretoria, September 2003
Definitions of life forms|
To assist the reader, we include the following definitions of
a selection of some lesser known life form terms (mostly R.
Glen, pers. comm.):
Carnivore: a plant that can utilise proteins and minerals obtained
from trapped animals, mostly insects.
Cyperoid: a term used for members of the Cyperaceae family.
Epihydate: a plant with leaves and/or stems floating on the
surface of the water but not rising above the water, roots penetrating
Epiphyte: a plant that grows on another plant but without deriving
nourishment from it and not parasitic, as some ferns and orchids
growing on trees.
Geophyte: a perennial plant, usually herbaceous, with renewal
buds located on the plant below the soil surface, as on bulbs
Graminoid: a term used for members of the grass family, Poaceae.
Haptophyte: a plant that is attached to but not penetrating
a solid substrate.
Helophyte: a plant typical of marshy or lake-edge environments,
in which the perennating organ lies in soil or mud below the
water level, but the aerial shoots protrude above the water.
Hydrophyte: a plant that is morphologically and/or physiologically
adapted to grow in water or very wet environments.
Hyperhydate: an emergent plant, with leaves and/or stems emerging
well beyond the water surface, roots penetrating the substrate.
Lignotuber: a woody swelling below or just above the ground,
containing adventitious buds from which new shoots develop if
the top is cut or burnt.
Lithophyte: a plant that grows on rocks.
Mallee: any of several low, shrubby eucalyptus trees that flourish
in desert regions of Australia.
Parasite: a plant living on another plant and deriving nourishment
Plankton: plants that are completely submerged, not attached
to any substrate.
Pleustophyte: a plant that is free-floating on the water surface,
not attached to or penetrating the substrate, with some photosynthetic
parts in contact with air.
Restioid: a term used for members of the Restionaceae family.
Rheophyte: a flood-resistant plant that is confined to the beds
of swift-flowing streams or rivers and to adjacent floodplains.
Rosulate: with leaves borne in a rosette.
Sudd hydrophyte: an aquatic plant that grows rooted in sudd
(an impenetrable mass of floating vegetable matter).
Tenagophyte: an amphibious plant, the juvenile submerged or
floating on water and the adult (reproductive) phase terrestrial.
Vittate: pertaining to submerged plants, rooted in substrate,
leaves arranged along elongated stem.
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BRUMMITT, R.K. & POWELL, C.E. 1992. Authors of plant
names. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
LEISTNER, O.A. (ed.) 2000. Seed plants of southern Africa:
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1985. List of species of southern African plants, edn 2, Part
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