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  1. Family: Lamiaceae Martinov
    1. Genus: Orthosiphon Benth.
      1. Orthosiphon schimperi Benth.

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & S. Africa.


    Lamiaceae (Labiatae), A.J. Paton, G. Bramley, O. Ryding, R.M. Polhill, Y.B. Harvey, M. Iwarsson, F. Willis, P.B. Phillipson, K. Balkwill, C.W. Lukhoba, D.F. Otieno, & R.M. Harley. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

    Type: Ethiopia, Tigray, Mt Scholada, Schimper I. 313 (K!, holo. BM!, BR!, P, iso.)
    Perennial herb with a thick woody rootstock that extends down and laterally, 0.2–1 m tall, not or hardly aromatic
    Stems numerous, erect, quadrangular, generally unbranched below the several terminal flowering shoots, sparsely to densely pubescent with retrorse and/or spreading hairs, mostly along the angles below, more generally above
    Leaves subsessile to shortly petiolate above, with longer petioles lower down, glandular-punctate; blade ovate to elliptic, 3–11 × 1.5–5(–8) cm, coarsely crenate to serrate, acute and slightly acuminate to rounded at apex, cuneate and then attenuate at base, subglabrous to pubescent above, pubescent beneath especially along veins; petiole 1–20 mm long
    Inflorescence usually rather dense at first, flowering freely while the 6-flowered verticils are still contiguous, but verticils mostly 1–1.5 cm apart in fruit; bracts ovate-acuminate, 2.5–7 mm long, erect above forming an inconspicuous apical coma, deflexed below; pedicels mostly 1–2 mm long in flower, 2.5–4 mm in fruit
    Calyx generally flushed reddish brown, maroon or purple all over, at anthesis spreading, 4.5–7 mm long, pubescent especially at base and along the veins; fruiting calyx downward-pointing or vertically so, 7–10(–13) mm long; posterior lip pointed and shortly recurrent on the tube, 3–3.5(–4) mm long; lower lobes of the anterior lip only shortly united at base, awn-like, 2.5–4 mm long, slightly upcurved and often less than 1 mm longer than the lateral lobes
    Corolla usually pale pink, sometimes white or mauve, 9–11(–13) mm long; tube 6–9.5 mm long, straight, parallel-sided, dilating slightly towards throat; posterior lip perpendicular to tube; anterior lip cucullate, enclosing stamens, curving slightly upwards or horizontal, finally slightly deflexed and releasing stamens
    Nutlets brown, speckled darker, broadly ovoid, 1.5 mm long, producing a small amount of mucilage when wet
    Fig 27: 3, p 183
    Open wooded grassland and grassland prone to burning, Brachystegia woodland, often in damp places along streams, roads and at edges of closed woody communities; 300–2350 m
    Least concern; widely distributed
    Ashby, loc. cit. (1938), first suggested that O. rubicundus (D. Don) Benth., described from Nepal, extended to Africa and this was followed in a broader context by Morton, loc. cit. (1962, 1963), for West Africa and Codd, loc. cit. (1964, 1985) for southern Africa. More material of that species, which ranges from the Himalayas to southern China and Vietnam, is now available, see Sudee, Paton & Parnell in K.B. 60: 8 (2005). Though closely similar to the African material here attributed to O. schimperi, it seems clearly distinct, most notably on account of the regular formation of discrete tubers on the root system, but also with longer intervals between the verticils and a different aspect overall. In East Africa O. schimperi can be distinguished most easily from O. thymiflorus ( O. suffrutescens) by its larger fruiting calyx (7–10 or more rather than 5–7 mm), flushed purplish red overall, rather than purple on the posterior lip and green underneath, and with the lateral lobes of the anterior lip of the fruiting calyx not much shorter than the lower lobes, but these distinctions do not always hold elsewhere. O. schimperi is well adapted to a regime of annual fires and develops a substantial rootstock, with erect mostly unbranched stems and sizeable leaves mostly more than 3 cm long, the upper ones (especially in Tanzanian populations) often nearly sessile, and the inflorescences remain quite dense at the flowering stage. O. thymiflorus starts flowering from a single stem with a taproot and gradually develops a small rootstock and several stems which branch freely (or at least show incipient shoots as tufts of leaves in the axils) to give a straggling habit, bearing mostly small leaves rarely more than 4 cm long except in shaded places, all distinctly petiolate and the verticils soon well spaced. The nutlets of O. thymiflorus are also smaller, 0.9–1.2 mm long rather than 1.5 mm. In the few places where the ranges overlap the distinctions do seem to break down to a limited extent. In the Serere area of eastern Uganda both species occur and whereas Lye 357, cited below, is typical of O. thymiflorus, other specimens, such as Chandler 629 and 640, show calyces approximating to those of O. schimperi. In the southern half of Tanzania O. schimperi is characteristic of Brachystegia woodland and O. thymiflorus occurs in the intervening Acacia wooded grasslands and in the coastal belt, but in ecotones subject to periodic fires some anomalous forms are evident. For example, a series of specimens from eastern Tanzania around Turiani in Brachystegia woodland, cleared areas and cultivations, Drummond & Hemsley 1815, Milne-Redhead & Taylor 7354 and Semsei 1905, show some gradation, best included in O. thymiflorus, but the calyx can be a little longer than typical.
    Range: From Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast to Ethiopia and south to South Africa Flora districts: U1 U3 U4 K3 K5 T4 T6 T7 T8



    Native to:

    Angola, Benin, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe


    Other Data

    Orthosiphon schimperi Benth. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Nov 1, 2005 Schimper [313], Ethiopia K000347192 Unknown type material
    Nov 1, 2005 Schimper [313], Ethiopia K000347193 Unknown type material
    Nov 1, 2005 Whyte, A. [s.n.], Malawi K000347205 Unknown type material
    Nov 1, 2005 Whyte, A. [s.n.], Malawi K000347206 Unknown type material
    Nov 1, 2005 Buchanan, J. [137], Malawi K000347207 Unknown type material
    Nov 1, 2005 Buchanan, J. [137], Malawi K000347208
    Nov 1, 2005 Cecil, E. [20], Mozambique K000347203 Unknown type material
    Nov 1, 2005 Buchanan, J [81], Malawi K000347204 lectotype
    Milne-Redhead, E. [7275], Tanzania 25403.000
    Milne-Redhead, E. [8130], Tanzania 25583.000
    Milne-Redhead, E. [8235], Tanzania 27180.000
    Ash [987], Ethiopia 37008.000
    Krause, G.A. [s.n.], Ghana K000347183 Unknown type material


    First published in Candolle, Prodr. 12: 51 (1848)

    Accepted by

    • Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015). The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan: 1-400. Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R.M., Harvey, Y.B., Iwarsson, M., Otieno, D., Balkwill, K., Phillipson, P.B., Harley, R.M. & Willis, F. (2013). Flora Zambesiaca 8(8): 1-346. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Fischer, E., Rembold, K., Althof, A. & Obholzer, J. (2010). Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Kakamega forest, Western province, Kenya Journal of East African Natural History 99: 129-226.
    • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R., Harvey, Y., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F., Phillipson, P., Balkwill, K., Lukhoba, C., Otiend, D & Harley (2009). Lamiaceae (Labiatae) Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-430.
    • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Hedberg, I., Kelbessa, E., Edwards, S., Demissew, S. & Persson, E. (eds.) (2006). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 5: 1-690. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • Thulin, M. (ed.) (2006). Flora of Somalia 3: 1-626. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


    Kew Backbone Distributions

    • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006). Flore Analytique du Bénin: 1-1034. Backhuys Publishers.
    • Thulin, M. (ed.) (2006). Flora of Somalia 3: 1-626. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Calane da Silva, M., Izdine, S. & Amuse, A.B. (2004). A Preliminary Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Mozambique: 1-184. SABONET, Pretoria.
    • Brunel, J.F., Hiepo, P. & Scholz, H. (eds.) (1984). Flore Analytique du Togo Phanérogames: 1-751. GTZ, Eschborn.

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Fl. Eth. 5: 582 (2006)
    • Fl. Somalia 3: 347 (2006).
    • Fl. Rwanda 3: 328 (1985)
    • F.T.A. 5: 372 (1900)
    • A. Rich., Tent. Fl. Abyss. 2: 180 (1850)
    • DC., Prodr. 12: 51 (1848)


    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.
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

    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.