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


Apocynaceae (part 2), David Goyder, Timothy Harris, Siro Masinde, Ulrich Meve, Johan Venter. Flora of Tropical East Africa, 2012

Morphology General Habit
Perennial herb with one or more annual erect or trailing stems to ± 60 cm arising from a tuberous rootstock.
Morphology Stem
Stems minutely but densely pubescent
Morphology Leaves
Leaves herbaceous; petiole 1–8 mm long, densely pubescent; lamina generally oblongelliptic, sometimes ovate-oblong or obovate-oblong, 2–9 × (0.7–)1–4.5 cm, apex rounded to subacute, frequently shortly apiculate, base rounded to truncate, frequently slightly asymmetric, indumentum sometimes restricted to main veins, subglabrous to sparsely pubescent adaxially, denser and more prominent abaxially
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences extra-axillary, solitary at each node, sparsely to densely pubescent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Peduncles
Peduncles (to 1st cluster of flowers) 0.1–4 cm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Bracts
Bracts filiform to narrowly oblong, 1–5 mm long, densely pubescent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pedicel
Pedicels 3–13 mm long, densely pubescent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx lobes oblong, 2–7 × 0.5–2 mm, pubescent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla green tinged with red or purple outside, deep reddish purple within, the centre occasionally pale, globose in bud, campanulate when open, generally united for half to 2/3 of its length, rarely more deeply divided, extremely variable in size, 5–14 mm long, glabrous or sparsely pubescent at least towards the tip abaxially, subglabrous or sparsely pubescent within; lobes oblong to broadly triangular, 2–6 × 1.5–6 mm, apex rounded, but margins sometimes somewhat revolute making the apex appear acute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynostegium
Gynostegium 1.5 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corona
Corona forming a cream, papillose cylinder around the staminal column; free lobes maroon or purple, fleshy, suborbicular, 0.3–0.4 mm long, radiating from the top of the column just below the base of the anthers
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens Anthers
Anther wings falcate, 0.3–0.4 mm.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pollinarium
Pollinaria minute, corpusculum ovoid-subcylindrical, ± 0.1 mm long; translator arms slender, terete, somewhat curved, ± 0.1 mm long, attached to the pollinia basally.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pollinia
Pollinia ± 0.25 mm long, ovoid-subcylindrical, erect
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Apex of stylar head flat.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Follicles mostly occuring singly, ovoid, 4–6 × 1.5–2 cm, smooth, with thick fleshy walls
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 6–10 × 5–7 mm, oblong to ovate, winged; coma 0.7–2 cm long.
Mixed deciduous woodland, frequently on rocky slopes, or seasonally burnt grassland; 1000–2400 m
A polymorphic species occurring across tropical Africa. Plants from open habitats tend to have smaller leaves and reduced corolla dimensions in comparison with plants from more wooded environments. They are frequently also stiffly erect, whereas woodland plants often have a more sprawling habit. The most distinctive variant of this erect, small-flowered form occurs in southern Angola, Namibia and western Zambia, probably associated with Kalahari sands, and was described as Sphaerocodon melananthum. However, dimensions of the functional parts of the gynostegium – the pollinaria and anther wings – are consistent with other material of Tylophora caffra, and this variant is treated here as an extreme form of T. caffra, deserving recognition at varietal rank at most.
Flora districts: U1 U2 U3 U4 K3 K5 T1 T2 T4 T6 T7 Range: Widespread across tropical and subtropical Africa from Sierra Leone to South Sudan, to N Namibia and N South Africa

Native to:

Angola, Benin, Burkina, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Vincetoxicum caffrum (Meisn.) Kuntze appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Eyles, F. [8841], Zimbabwe Sphaerocodon obtusifolium 4057.000

First published in Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 424 (1891)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R., Nic Lughadha, E., Black, N., Turner, R. & Paton, A. (2021). The World Checklist of Vascular Plants, a continuously updated resource for exploring global plant diversity. Scientific Data 8: 215.
  • Goyder, D.J., Gilbert, M.G. & Venter, H.J.T. (2020). Flora Zambesiaca 7(3): 1-375. 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.
  • Aké Assi, L. (2001). Flore de la Côte-d'Ivoire: catalogue systématique, biogéographie et écologie. I Boissiera 57: 1-396.
  • Boulvert, Y. (1977). Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 2(1): 1-85. ORSTOM, Bangui.
  • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Goyder, D.J., Gilbert, M.G. & Venter, H.J.T. (2020). Flora Zambesiaca 7(3): 1-375. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Goyder, S., Harris, T., Masinde, S., Meve, U. & Venter, J. (2012). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Apocynaceae(2): 1-530.
  • Hepper, F.N. (ed.) (1963). Flora of West Tropical Africa, ed. 2, 2: 1-544.
  • Thiombiano, A., Schmidt, M., Dressler, S., Ouédraogo, A., Hahn, K. & Zizka, G. (2012). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Burkina Faso Boissiera 65: 1-391.
  • Troupin, G. (ed.) (1985). Flora du Rwanda 3: 1-729. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. 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 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.