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  1. Family: Acanthaceae Juss.
    1. Acanthus L.

      1. This genus is accepted, and its native range is S. Central & SE. Europe to N. Australia and Africa.


    Acanthaceae (part 1), Kaj Vollesen, Flora of Tropical East Africa, 2008

    Perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees; cystoliths absent.
    Leaves opposite or in whorls of 4, usually leathery with pale yellow thickened midrib, veins and margins, alternate pair if present usually much reduced, with sessile scale-like glands.
    Flowers in terminal or axillary racemoid cymes; bracts large, leathery, with 3 prominent longitudinal veins, with spinose margin or entire; bracteoles 2, filiform to ovate, spinose or entire. It is immediately recognisable by its large dark red flowers.
    Calyx divided to base into 4 glumaceous sepals which are thickened and horny at the base; dorsal sepal 1–3-veined, entire or with 2–3 small teeth, ventral 2-veined, entire or with 2 large triangular teeth or irregularly toothed, lateral 1-veined.
    Corolla tube short, white, thickened and spongy apically, with a dense band of thick retrorse hairs apically; limb split dorsally to give a 3–5-lobed lip, basally with a thickened callus, on both sides of and on callus with thick bulbous-based retrorse hairs; lobes broadly oblong, rounded or central emarginate.
    Stamens 4, exserted, inserted just inside throat, two posterior held above anterior; two pair of filaments similar, curved, thick and bony, laterally compressed; anthers 1-thecous, oblong, with brushes of stiff hairs along whole length ventrally.
    Ovary 2-locular with 2 ovules per locule; style linear, glabrous; stigma of 2 lanceolate, acute lobes.
    Capsule 2–4-seeded, woody, ellipsoid, glossy, sessile, flattened dorsiventrally and rounded apically.
    Seed discoid, glabrous or sericeous-puberulous.
    Range: About 25 species from southern Europe to the Pacific and south through Africa to Angola, Zambia and Malawi.



    Native to:

    Albania, Algeria, Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Chad, China Southeast, Congo, East Aegean Is., East Himalaya, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Gulf of Guinea Is., Hainan, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jawa, Kenya, Kriti, Laos, Lebanon-Syria, Lesser Sunda Is., Liberia, Malawi, Malaya, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Nigeria, Northern Territory, Palestine, Philippines, Queensland, Romania, Rwanda, Santa Cruz Is., Sardegna, Sicilia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Is., Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sumatera, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Uganda, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Western Australia, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zaïre

    Introduced into:

    Azores, Baleares, Canary Is., Corse, Czechoslovakia, France, Great Britain, Madeira, Mauritius, Mexico Central, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Portugal, Spain

    Accepted Species


    Other Data

    Acanthus L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Sands, M.J.S. [7202], Indonesia 74021.000


    First published in Sp. Pl.: 639 (1753)

    Accepted by

    • Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 529. MIM, Deurne.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • —F.T.A. 5: 105.

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • K.B. 62: 233 (2007)
    • F.T.A. 5: 105 (1899)
    • G.P. 2: 1090 (1876)
    • DC., Prodr. 11: 270 (1847)
    • Gen. Pl.: 286 (1754)
    • Sp. Pl.: 639 (1753)


    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.

    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.