Otoptera DC.

First published in Mém. Légum.: 249 (1826)
This genus is accepted
The native range of this genus is Zimbabwe to S. Africa, Madagascar.


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

Herbs or shrubs
Seasonally dry tropical open woodland, wooded grassland, grassland and scrubland, on sand or limestone
southern Africa (1 sp.) and SW to W Madagascar (1 sp.)
See notes under Decorsea; traditionally placed in subtribe Phaseolinae, but current research by Delgado Salinas, Thulin, Pasquet, Weeden and Lavin suggests that Otoptera is rather closer to Psophocarpus

Previous accounts of the Phaseoleae by Baudet (1978) and Lackey (1981) recognised 90 and 84 genera and c. 1540 and 1480 species respectively in the tribe. In an equivalent, i.e. traditionally held view of Phaseoleae, 89 genera and (1554)–1567–(1580) species are treated here (Table 9; Fig. 47). Changes between Baudet (1978) and this treatment are that eleven genera are now in synonymy or have subsequently been placed in Millettieae, two genera have been transferred from Desmodieae and eight new genera have been added. Vigna has traditionally been thought to comprise some 150–200 species, but Vigna sens. strict. may contain fewer than 100.

Recent molecular analyses of the tribe, however, have emphasised both the polyphyletic and paraphyletic nature of Phaseoleae as traditionally circumscribed (Bruneau & Doyle, 1990; Doyle & Doyle, 1993; Delgado Salinas et al., 1993; Bruneau et al., 1995; Doyle et al., 1997, 2000; Kajita et al., 2001; Goel et al., 2001; Lee & Hymowitz, 2001). This has required a radical realignment of elements of the phaseoloids (Table 9; Fig. 47), with at least two major clades being evident: Phaseoleae subtribes Diocleinae and Ophrestiinae which together with tribe Abreae are allied to the core-Millettieae (Fig. 45), and the remaining groups comprising a Phaseoleae sens. lat. clade. The rbcL phylogeny of Kajita et al. (2001) and the ITS analysis of Hu et al. (2002) are equivocal as to which clade subtribe Clitoriinae belongs. Phaseoleae sens. lat. also includes two traditionally independent tribes, the Desmodieae and Psoraleeae. Delimiting a recircumscribed Phaseoleae sens. strict is thus very problematic. A solution may be to recognise a broad tribe Phaseoleae, comprising the subtribes Kennediinae, Cajaninae, Phaseolinae and Glycininae, assorted basally branching genera, and tribes Desmodieae and Psoraleeae (both treated at subtribal level).


Leguminosae, B. Mackinder, R. Pasquet, R. Polhill & B. Verdcourt. Flora Zambesiaca 3:5. 2001

Morphology General Habit
Trailing or erect glabrous subshrubs or woody climber.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves glaucous, pinnately 3-foliolate; lateral leaflets almost symmetrical; stipules peltate, lanceolate, striate; stipels linear, persistent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers 2–4(5) terminating erect axillary peduncles; bracts 1–3, oblong-elliptic to lanceolate; bracteoles subtending the calyx 2-nerved.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx tube campanulate; upper pair of calyx lobes joined, lowest lobe the longest.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Standard ± round with 2 appendages at the base, auriculate; wings upwardly spurred at the base, the spur interlocking with the standard; a smaller basal spur pointing down interlocks with the keel in the Madagascan species; keel petals free in the basal half.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Vexillary stamen partly joined to staminal sheath or free.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Ovary linear with 5–6 ovules; style thickened above, the upper part curved through 180° with two stigmatic surfaces on the inner grooved convex side.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pods linear-subcylindrical, 2-valved, the valves spiralling.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds black, reniform or ellipsoid with minute hilum, separated from each other by membranous endocarp.


Used as vigorous sand binders and soil stabilisers; stems used for twine


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