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  1. Family: Malvaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Sterculia L.
      1. Sterculia stenocarpa H.J.P.Winkl.

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


    Sterculiaceae, Martin Cheek & Laurence Dorr; Nesogordonia, Laurence Dorr, Lisa Barnett. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2007

    Type: Kenya, Teita District: between Taveta River and Voi, Winkler 4047 (WRSL, holo.)
    Tree, rarely a shrub, 4–12 m tall, spreading, the crown often as wide as the tree is high, usually with numerous branches from shortly above ground.
    Bole often short and stout, bark smooth, grey or reddish brown.
    Flora districts: Ultimate branchlets orangebrown, 1.5–3.5 mm wide, densely hairy long-tomentose with pale yellow stellate hairs
    Leaf-blade ± orbicular in outline, usually shallowly 3-lobed, divided for ± 1/4 sometimes 5–7-lobed, rarely entire and then usually with a repand margin, (2.5–)4–7(–12) cm long, (2–)4–10(–13) cm wide, the lobes subequal, usually wider than long, 1.4–3.4 cm long, 2.2–6 cm wide, apex rounded, sometimes shortly subacuminate, base deeply cordate, the sinus (0.5–)0.7–1.4(–3) cm deep, the edges not quite overlapping, long-tomentose above and beneath with indumentum as the stem; petiole orange brown, terete, (1–)2–6.5(–8) cm long, 1–1.5 mm wide, indumentum as the stem; stipules persistent, linear-triangular, 5–12(–15) mm long, 1–1.5(–2) mm wide at the base, black, outer surface often glabrous, inner surface densely long-tomentose with white hairs
    Inflorescences usually borne on leafless stems, in large numbers, ± 15–25 from the apex of the main shoot, or 1–4 from the apex of the spur shoots, 0.7–1.7 cm long; pedicels 3–6 mm long
    Flowers with perianth yellow green, striped inside with red, sometimes altogether dark red, widely campanulate, tube 7–12 mm long, (9–)12–18(–28) mm wide, divided into 5 spreading triangular teeth, each 8–14 mm long, 4–7 mm wide, outside densely long-tomentose, indumentum as the stem
    Fruits with follicles pendant, cylindrical, moniliform, 6.5–9 cm long, 0.8–1.2 cm wide, dehiscing completely flat, then slightly shorter, 4.5–7.2 cm long, 1.8–2.6 cm wide, rostrum curved, 0.2–1.7 cm long, stipe absent, pericarp leathery, ± 0.5 mm thick, occasionally slightly woody and ± 1 mm thick, outer surface usually grey-green, sometimes reddish, tomentellous to subscabrid.
    Seeds with stalks small and inconspicuous, glabrous, 0.5–1 mm long and wide; seeds ellipsoid, 8 mm long, 5 mm wide, grey-black, aril apical, rounded, 2–4 mm wide, 1–2.5 mm high, largely obscuring the round hilum 0.5–1 mm wide
    Dry bushland with Commiphora, Terminalia, Combretum and Acacia; 0–1700 m
    This species is here assessed as “Least Concern” in view of its large geographic range and because of its wide habitat range.
    It is noticeable that the few specimens from T 2, Tanzania (10–12 m tall) are all reported as being taller than other specimens from East Africa (usually 6–8 m tall). Fruits from NW Kenya generally have pericarps about twice as thick as the more coastal populations. This species is easily recognized when sterile on account of the persistent stipules, not otherwise known in East African Sterculia. These are particularly prominent on the short spurshoots which also bear the remains of the inflorescences of previous seasons. This character, and the long-tomentose, patent-stellate indumentum of stem, leaf-blade, petiole, inflorescence and perianth readily serve to distinguish specimens from the sympatric Sterculia africana and S. rhynchocarpa with which it has often been confused. The narrow, cylindrical, moniliform fruit with a leathery pericarp which dehisces completely flat is very different to those of the latter and suggests that its closest affinity lies with S. mhosya (Tanzania), which is readily distinguished by the acuminate leaf-blade lobes and inflorescence with purple glandular hairs. The lowest altitudinal record is derived from Luke (pers. comm.), who cites his sight record at Shimoni Village, Kwale Distr.
    Flora districts: U1 K1 K2 K3 K4 6, K7 T2 T3 T7 Range: Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia
    Seeds edible, J. Wilson 167; bark used for string, tough and durable; Graham 1712; “used by Somalis for string, rope etc.” Sampson 81.


    Native to:

    Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda

    Other Data

    Sterculia stenocarpa H.J.P.Winkl. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Tanzania 29430.000
    Greenway, P.J. [9767], Kenya 25227.000
    Bally, P.R.O. [B14907], Kenya 34568.000


    First published in Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 18: 123 (1922)

    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.
    • Kalema, J. & Beentje, H. (2012). Conservation checklist of the trees of Uganda: 1-235. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Cheek, M. & Dorr, L. (2007). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Sterculiaceae: 1-134.
    • Thulin, M. (ed.) in Thulin, M. (ed.) (1999). Flora of Somalia 2: 1-303. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Edwards, S., Tadesse, M. & Hedberg, I. (eds.) (1995). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 2(2): 1-456. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.


    Kew Backbone Distributions

    • Kalema, J. & Beentje, H. (2012). Conservation checklist of the trees of Uganda: 1-235. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Thulin, Fl. Somal. 2: 25 (1999).
    • Fl. Eth. 2, 2: 184, fig. 80.8: 10 (1995)
    • K.T.S.L.: 168, map (1994)
    • K.T.S.: 552 (1961)
    • T.T.C.L.: 604 (1949)
    • F.R. 18: 123 (1922)


    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.