1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Otholobium C.H.Stirt.

      1. This genus is accepted, and its native range is Kenya to S. Africa, W. & S. South America to Venezuela.


    Legumes of the World. Edited by G. Lewis, B. Schrire, B. MacKinder & M. Lock. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. (2005)

    Shrubs, trees or herbs
    Seasonally dry tropical and mediterranean lowland to montane shrubland, forest margins, grassland and seepage areas (Andean species in montane forest, woodland, shrubland and xeric grassland)
    53 spp. S and E of southern Africa (Cape and Afromontane regions, especially common in mediterranean S and SW Cape, with outliers to Angola and E mountain areas of Kenya); possibly including 8 spp. from S America, in the middle to high altitude Andes, from Columbia and Venezuela southwards to Chile and Argentina (Grimes, 1990)
    Closely allied to Psoralea; relationships remain unclear between the African members of the genus and the eight species from the Andes in S America (Grimes, 1990)

    The tribe Psoraleeae as delimited by Stirton (1981a), comprised 6 genera and c. 135 species, and until very recently (see below) the tribe has been of uncertain lineage. Key revisionary studies since 1981 have been on Otholobium (Stirton, 1989), the New World members of Psoraleeae (Grimes, 1990), and Cullen (Grimes, 1997). Hallia was subsumed into Psoralea on the basis of data from inflorescence and flower morphology and leaf anatomy (Tucker & Stirton, 1991; Crow et al., 1997). Lectotypifications of infrageneric taxa in Psoraleeae were made by Grimes (1988). As treated here, the Psoraleeae comprise a monophyletic group of 9 genera and 185 species (Fig. 49). The only generic problems remaining to be resolved are a) the generic position of Bituminaria acaulis (Steven) C.H. Stirt. (Stirton, 1981b; Grimes, 1997) currently included in Bituminaria subgenus Christevenia Barneby ex C.H. Stirt.; and b) the status of eight species of South American Andean psoraleas included by Grimes (1990) in Otholobium, an otherwise southern and eastern African genus.

    Prior to 1977 (Stirton, 1981a), the Psoraleeae was considered closely related to Amorpheae. Evidence from a range of morphological, anatomical, floral development, phytochemical, nodulation and recently molecular studies, however, show that Amorpheae are basally branching in dalbergioid legumes (Lavin et al., 2001a; Wojciechowski et al., 2004), whereas Psoraleeae are nested within the Phaseoleae sens. lat.

    The Psoraleeae are sister to Phaseoleae subtribe Glycininae (see Figs. 47 & 49) in a well supported clade based on rbcL sequences of Otholobium and Bituminaria (Doyle et al., 1997). In addition Cullen (but cited as Psoralea) is part of a fully supported clade with other Phaseoleae based on trnK-matK data (Hu, 2000; Hu et al., 2000). Adams et al. (1999) and Doyle & Doyle (2000) indicate a similar result using data from the respiratory nucox-II gene (encoding subunit 2 of cytochrome oxidase). Psoraleeae are placed sister to Glycine with the basally branching Cullen sister to Otholobium, Psoralidium and Rupertia in the matK analysis of Wojciechowski et al. (2004). More sampling of Psoraleeae is needed in molecular analyses to ascertain if the basally-branching genera are the southern African Otholobium and Psoralea (as suggested by Grimes, 1990) or Cullen (e.g., in Wojciechowski et al., 2004).


    Leguminosae, B. Verdcourt. Flora Zambesiaca 3:6. 2000

    Small trees, shrubs, subshrubs, or herbs.
    Leaves 1-foliolate or 3-foliolate, stipulate, subsessile or petiolate; leaflets entire, black- or pellucid-dotted, mostly recurved-mucronate; stipules evident, striate, adnate to the base of the petiole.
    Flowers sessile to pedicellate, bracteate, aggregated in 1 or 5–50 triplets (rarely doublets) in axillary or apparently terminal fascicles, imperfect racemes or lax pseudo-spikes, each triplet subtended by a solitary bract; cupulum absent.
    Calyx campanulate, 5-lobed, the lowest lobe usually longer than the rest; vexillary lobes generally fused to some degree above the tube.
    Standard scarcely reflexed vertically, with auricles weakly developed and appendages absent; wings with a lamellate sculpturing pattern, distal edges characteristically overlapping and rounded; keel petals purple-tipped on inner face of apices, fused along lower edges, free along upper edges.
    Vexillary stamen free or variously fused to androecial sheath; anthers uniform, alternately basifixed and medifixed.
    Ovary uniovulate; style bent; stigma capitate.
    Fruit swollen, indehiscent, pubescent, papery or cartilaginous.
    Seeds compressed, longer than broad.
    Used as medicine and for flavouring food by smoking



    Native to:

    Argentina Northwest, Bolivia, Cape Provinces, Chile Central, Chile North, Chile South, Colombia, Ecuador, Free State, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Northern Provinces, Peru, Swaziland, Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    Otholobium C.H.Stirt. appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Advances Legume System. 1: 341 (1981)


    Kew Bulletin
    • Dludlu, M., Stirton, C. H., Chimphango, S. B. M., Bello, A. & Muasya, A. M. (2013). Phylogenetic position of the southern African members of the tribe Psoraleeae based on molecular and morpho­logical data. S. African J. Bot. 89: 150 - 155.
    • Manning, J. & Goldblatt, P. (2012). Plants ofthe Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: the Core. Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
    • Larsen, R., Holmern, T., Prager, S. D., Maliti, H. & Røskaft, E. (2009). Using the extended quarter degree grid cell system to unify mapping and sharing of biodiversity data. Afr. J. Ecol. 47: 382 - 392.
    • Ojeda, I., Francisco-Ortega, J. & Cronk, Q. C. B. (2009). Evolution of petal epidermal micromor­phology in Leguminosae and its use as a marker of petal identity. Ann. Bot. 104: 1099 - 1110.
    • Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J. E., Helme, N. A., Turner, R. C., Kamundi, D. A. & Manyama, P. A. (2009). Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodi­versity Institute, Pretoria.
    • Egan, A. N. & Crandall, K. A. (2008). Incorporating gaps as phylogenetic characters across eight DNA regions: Ramifi cations for North American Psoraleeae (Leguminosae). Molec. Phylogenet. Evol. 46: 532 - 546.
    • Mucina, L. & Rutherford, M. C. (eds). (2006). Vegetation map of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Strelitzia 19. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
    • Stirton, C. H.  (2005). Tribe Psoraleeae. In: G. Lewis, B. Schrire, B. Mackinder & M. Lock (eds), Legumes of the world, pp. 447 - 451. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • IUCN (2001). IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 3.1. IUCN, Gland & Cambridge.
    • Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. (2000). Cape Plants: A Conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Verdcout, B. (2000). In: G. V. Pope, Flora Zambesiaca Vol. 3 Part 6. Leguminosae. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for the Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee.
    • Stirton, C. H.  (1991). Notes on the genus Otholobium (Psoraleeae, Fabaceae). 5. Four new species from Namaqualand, South Africa. S. African J. Bot. 57: 123 - 127.
    • Grimes, J. W. (1990). A revision of the New World species of Psoraleeae (Leguminosae: Papilionoideae). Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 61: 1 - 113.
    • Stirton, C. H.  (1989). A revision of the genus Otholobium C. H. Stirt. (Psoraleeae, Leguminosae). Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, University ofCape Town.
    • Karron, J. D. (1987). A comparison of levels of genetic polymorphism and self-compatibility in geographi­cally restricted and widespread plant congeners. Evol. Ecol. 1: 47 - 58.
    • Bohnen, P. (1986). Flowering plants of the Southern Cape. Still Bay Trust.
    • Stirton, C. H. (1986).Notesonthegenus Otholobium(Papilionoideae, Fabaceae). S. African J. Bot. 52: 1 - 6.
    • Stirton, C. H. (1983). Two new species of Otholobium (Fabaceae). J. S. African Bot. 49: 337 - 342.
    • Stirton, C. H.  (1982). A new species of Otholobium in South Africa. Bothalia. 14: 72 - 73.
    • Rabinowitz, D. (1981). Seven forms ofrarity. In: H. Synge (ed.), The Biological Aspects of Rare Plant Conservation, pp. 205 - 217. Wiley Interscience, Chichester.
    • Stirton, C. H.  (1981b). Studies in the Leguminosae-Papilionoideae of southern Africa. Bothalia 13: 317 - 325.
    • Stirton, C. H. (1981a). Psoraleeae. In: R. M. Polhill & P. H. Raven (eds), Advances in Legumes Systematics, Part 1: 337 - 343. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Leistner, O. A. & Morris, J. W. (1976). Southern African place names. Ann. Cape Prov. Mus. Nat. Hist. 12: 1 - 565.
    • Baker, E. G. (1911). In: A. B. Rendle, E. G. Baker, S. Moore & A. Gepp, A contribution to our knowl­edge of the Flora of Gazaland: being an account of collections made by C. F. M. Swynnerton Esq., F.L.S. J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 40: 1 - 245.
    Flora Zambesiaca
    • J.W. Grimes in Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 61: 16–32 (1990).
    • A revision of Otholobium C.H. Stirton (Papilionoideae, Leguminosae) Thesis, Univ. Cape Town, 2 vols. (1989).
    • in S. African J. Bot. 52: 1–6 (1986)
    • in Adv. Leg. Syst.: 341 (1981)


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    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

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