Fabaceae Lindl.

Microcharis Benth.

This genus is accepted, and its native range is Africa to Arabian Peninsula.


M. Thulin et al. Flora of Somalia, Vol. 1-4 [updated 2008]

Morphology General Habit
Herbs or shrublets with biramous hairs
Morphology Leaves
Leaves 1–9(–13)-foliolate or simple
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Flowers in axillary racemes; bracts persistent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pedicel
Pedicels long and usually standing at right-angles to the axis of the raceme in fruit
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pink or red, soon falling; standard glabrous; keel with lateral pouches but no spurs, sometimes beaked at the tip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens Filaments
Vexillary stamen free, usually sterile; anthers with hyaline scales, apiculate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Stigma
Stigma oblique, discoid
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pod linear, straight or curved, flattened, several- to many-seeded.
Some 35 species in Africa, Madagascar and Arabia.
Previously usually treated as a subgenus of Indigofera.


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


Polhill (1981f) recognised 4 genera and c. 710 species in Indigofereae. This treatment following Polhill (1994), Schrire (1995), Barker et al. (2000) and Schrire et al. (2003) recognises 7 genera and c. 768 species in the tribe (Fig. 44). The Indigofereae are predominantly African-Madagascan in distribution, occurring in seasonally dry vegetation types of the tropics and subtropics. The genus Indigofera (third largest in the Leguminosae) is pantropical in distribution.

Recent morphological-molecular analyses (Pennington et al., 2000a; Crisp et al., 2000; Wojciechowski et al., 2000, 2004; Hu, 2000; Kajita et al., 2001; Hu et al., 2002 and Wojciechowski, 2003) place Indigofereae at the base of a combined millettioid group of tribes (including Millettieae, Abreae, Phaseoleae, Desmodieae and Psoraleeae). This entire clade is sister to Hologalegina (comprising the robinioids and the Inverted Repeat Lacking Clade (IRLC)). Basally branching to these two clades are the South African Hypocalypteae and Australian tribes Mirbelieae and Bossiaeeae.

The Indigofereae (Barker et al., 2000; Schrire et al., 2003) comprises a Cyamopsis, Indigastrum, Microcharis and Rhynchotropis (CRIM) clade which is sister to the Indigofera-Vaughania clade. The Madagascan Phylloxylon is putatively the most basally branching genus in the tribe, although in some analyses in Schrire et al. (2003), Phylloxylon is sister to the CRIM clade.

Sister genus to Rhynchotropis (Barker et al., 2000)
Seasonally dry tropical forest margins, woodland, thicket, wooded grassland and grassland, often in damp swampy or riverine areas, or in shallow soil over rock
Africa (except largely W Africa; c. 16 spp. in Somalia-Masai and c. 18 spp. in Zambezian to Sudanian regions), Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar (2 spp.)

Native to:

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Central African Repu, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Gulf States, Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Oman, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Socotra, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Microcharis Benth. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Schrire, B.D. [2571], Kenya 62730.000 No

First published in Trans. Linn. Soc. London 25: 297 (1865)

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.


Flora of Somalia

  • Flora Somalia, Vol 1, (1993) Author: by M. Thulin [updated by M. Thulin 2008]
  • Schrire in Bothalia 22: 165–170 (1992).

  • Flora of Somalia

    Flora of Somalia

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. 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 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Legumes of the World Online