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  1. Family: Burseraceae Kunth
    1. Genus: Commiphora Jacq.
      1. Commiphora caerulea Burtt

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tanzania to Botswana.


    Burseraceae, J.B. Gillett. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1991

    Tree 3–15 m. tall with a regular spreading crown; trunk up to 80 cm. in diameter at breast height; bark of trunk and larger branches peeling each year about July in cream-coloured papery flakes; before peeling the trunks are a distinctive pale milky blue, afterwards a rich blue-green; exudate fluid, scentless; young twigs ± 1.2 mm. in diameter, fluted, pubescent, later grey and glabrescent.
    Leaves 3–9(–11)-foliolate, pubescent all over or the hairs restricted to rhachis, margins and veins; rhachis up to 12 cm. long, including a petiole up to 6 cm.; leaflets elliptic or oblong-elliptic, rounded or acute at the apex, asymmetricallly rounded or pointed basally, with 12–20 teeth all along each side and an ultimate vein-network usually prominent both above and beneath; terminal leaflet cuneate at the base, ± 5 cm. long and 3 cm. wide, laterals on average 3 × 1.7 cm. Leaves and inflorescences clustered at the ends of short- and long-shoots.
    Flowers greenish yellow appearing with, or just before the young leaves in densely pubescent subumbellate cymes on peduncles up to 20 mm. long, but usually much less, ♂ inflorescences 3–6-, ♀ 1–3-flowered; bracts linear-triangular, brown, caducous, 1–2(–5) mm. long.
    Receptacle densely pubescent, tumbler-shaped, 3 mm. long, 2.3 mm. wide, Calyx divided almost to the base into triangular-ovate densely pubescent 1.7 mm. long lobes, Petals pubescent outside, oblong, narrowed and reflexed distally but with a tiny inflexed apiculum, 4 mm. long × 1.2 mm. wide; filaments 3.0 and 2.5 mm., anthers 1.0 and 0.6 mm. long, the filaments 0.7 mm. wide at the base, tapering to a pointed tip.
    Fruits usually single, sometimes 2 or 3 together on a 2–11 mm. peduncle and 3–6 mm. pedicels; drupe pubescent at first, later glabrescent, flattened-ellipsoid, ± 15 × 12 mm. when fresh, ± 10 × 8 × (3 + 4) mm. when dry; pseudaril scarlet when mature, its larger lobe covering most of the fertile locule, the opposite lobe much smaller, sutural lobes absent; stone flattened-ellipsoid, indented at the base, both faces smooth and gently convex, ± 7.5 × 6.5 × (1.5 + 2 mm.).
    Fig. 14/5–8.
    Open woodland and bushland; 500–1500 m.; rainfall 450–700 mm.
    T1 T4 T5 T6 T7

    Burseraceae, H. Wild. Flora Zambesiaca 2:1. 1963

    Tree up to 12 m. tall; bark pale bluish-yellow, peeling in papery buffer straw-coloured strips; young branches greyish-pubescent.
    Leaves pinnate or more rarely 3-foliolate; petiole up to 5 cm. long, pubescent; leaflets 2–3-jugate, up to 8 × 4–7 cm., elliptic or oblong-elliptic, apex acute, margin crenate-serrate, base rounded or very broadly cuneate, asymmetric, upper surface with a few scattered hairs on the nerves and midrib or glabrescent, more densely pubescent below; petiolules up to 3 mm. long, pubescent.
    Flowers appearing with the very young leaves, in axillary dichasial cymes up to 2·5 cm. long or the female inflorescences reduced to very short 1–2-flowered cymes; branches of inflorescence greyish-pubescent.
    Calyx c. 2·5 mm. long, campanulate, lobed to almost half-way, densely pilose outside.
    Petals c. 3 mm. long, pilose outside except at the margins.
    Stamen-filaments broadened and flattened towards the base.
    Disk-lobes not developed.
    Fruit c. 1·5 cm. in diam., subglobose, somewhat flattened, glabrous; pseudaril covering about 3/4 of the endocarp, and becoming thin above; endocarp c. 1 × 0·8 cm., subcordiform, smooth, both faces moderately convex.



    Native to:

    Botswana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Other Data

    Commiphora caerulea Burtt appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Burtt, B.D. [5695], Malawi K000285564
    Burtt, B.D. [3992], Tanzania K000425404 Unknown type material
    Muller [2311], Botswana K000285563


    First published in Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1935: 111 (1935)

    Accepted by

    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.
    • Gillett, J.B. (1991). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Burseraceae: 1-94.
    • Exell, A.W., Fernandes, A. & Wild, H. (eds.) (1963). Flora Zambesiaca 2(1): 1-351. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Wild in Flora Zambesiaca 2: 281, t. 52G (1963).
    • J.P.M. Brenan, Check-lists of the Forest Trees and Shrubs of the British Empire no. 5, part II, Tanganyika Territory p. 84 (1949).
    • B.D. Burtt in Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information, Kew 1935: 111, t. 3 (May 1935).
    • Mattick in Notizblatt des Botanischen Gartens und Museums zu Berlin-Dahelm 12: 664 (Dec. 1935).


    Flora Zambesiaca
    Flora Zambesiaca

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

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    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.