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This species is accepted, and its native range is South Sudan to Malawi.
A specimen from Kew's Herbarium


Acanthaceae (part 1), Kaj Vollesen, Flora of Tropical East Africa, 2008

Morphology General Habit
Perennial herb to 1(–2) m tall with creeping rhizome; young stems somewhat fleshy, subglabrous to sparsely sericeous or sparsely puberulous.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves with petiole 0.5–2.2(–2.8) cm long; lamina elliptic to obovate in outline, largest 14–30 × 5–15 cm, varying (sometimes on the same stem) from unlobed with remotely denticulate margin to deeply lobed with oblong to triangular spine-tipped lobes, each lobe with 1–3 teeth on antrorse or on both sides, apex acuminate to cuspidate, spine-tipped, base attenuate to truncate with pair of large spines right at base and sometimes detached, sparsely puberulous (rarely pubescent) on midrib and larger veins, on lamina with scattered stiff erect bulbous-based hairs making surface rough to the touch, above sometimes without stiff hairs; alternate pair(s) of leaves absent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Cymes solitary, 3–15(–26) cm long (rarely with only 2–4 flowers apically on stem); rachis glabrous to puberulous, without or with 1-several pairs of sterile bracts at base; bracts green or purple-tipped or -mottled, elliptic-obovate, sparsely and minutely to densely puberulous, 2.5–4.7 cm long in middle of cyme of which the long triangular straight or recurved spine-tipped apical part 0.9–2.2(–3) cm, with 4–12 large and small teeth per side (sometimes small absent), longest 3–8 mm, small teeth inserted between large; bracteoles linear to linear-lanceolate, 1.4–2.8 cm long, entire or with 1–3 teeth per side.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx green or with purple apical part and sometimes veins, glabrous to puberulous; dorsal sepal ovate to elliptic, narrowing gradually or with parallel-sided apical part, 3.4–4.6 cm long, acute (rarely 2-toothed), no lateral teeth, ventral oblong-elliptic, narrowing gradually or with parallel-sided apical part, 2.6–3.8 cm long, bifid with 2 triangular teeth 1–4 mm long (these sometimes with 1–2 small additional teeth), without (very rarely with a single) lateral teeth, lateral lanceolate to narrowly ovate, 1.1–2.3 cm long, cuspidate, without (rarely with a single) lateral teeth per side.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pale pink to pink or mauve (rarely white with pink veins); tube 3–6 mm long below thickened rim which is 3–6 mm long and with a broad shallow split dorsally without tooth; limb spreading, 5-lobed, 3–4.5 × 2.5–5 cm, below glabrous to sparsely puberulous, towards base with large glandular swellings, above glabrous; callus not grooved.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens Filaments
Filaments 1.5–2.5 cm long, glabrous; anthers 7–10 mm long, without or with sparse long curly hairs on sides and without or with sessile glands dorsally.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule ± 2.5 cm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed rhomboid, 7–8 mm long, sericeous.
Range: Uganda. Range: Sudan, Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique Range: Tanzania. Flora districts: U2 T4 T6 T7 Range: Sudan, Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique
Undergrowth in wet evergreen intermediate and montane forest, often along streams or in forest swamps, riverine forest; (700–)900–2500 m


Vollesen, K. (2007). Synopsis of the Species of Acanthus (Acanthaceae) in Tropical East and Northeast Africa and in Tropical Arabia. Kew Bulletin, 62(2), 233-249. Retrieved from

Acanthus ueleensis is widespread and seems to be common in most of its area. There are recent collections from Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Malawi. In Tanzania it is common (pers. obs.) in the Guineo-Congolian forests on the east side of Lake Tanganika and there are a number of recent collections from the Southern Highlands. There are old collections from the Sudan and likewise from Mozambique. Up to the middle of last century A. ueleensis was widespread in the eastern part of Congo but due to civil wars there is no recent material from here and it is impossible to evaluate its present status is this area. This is a forest floor species and as such is probably more sensitive to disturbance than the previous group of species, but with its large distribution it is not likely to be threatened. Least concern (LC).
Sudan, Uganda, Congo (Kinshasa), Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique.
Undergrowth in wet evergreen intermediate and montane forest, often along streams or in forest swamps, riverine forest; (700 -) 900- 2500 m.
Congo (Kinshasa), Uele R., Seret 272 (holotype & isotype BR!). A photograph of the holotype is at K.

Native to:

Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaïre

Acanthus ueleensis De Wild. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Newbould, J. [4594], Tanzania K000394421 isotype
Newbould, J. [4594], Tanzania K000394420 holotype
Timberlake, J. [s.n.], Mozambique K000614513
Patel, H. [8021], Mozambique K000614347

First published in Ann. Mus. Congo Belge, Bot., sér. 5, 3: 270 (1910)

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.
  • Govaerts, R. (1995). World Checklist of Seed Plants 1(1, 2): 1-483, 529. MIM, Deurne.
  • Vollesen, K. (2008). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Acanthaceae(1): 1-285.
  • Vollesen, K. (2013). Flora Zambesiaca 8(5): 1-184. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Kew Bulletin

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Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Vollesen, K. (2013). Flora Zambesiaca 8(5): 1-184. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Ann. Mus. Congo Bot., ser. 5, 3: 270 (1910)
  • Burrows, Pl. Nyika Plateau: 48 (2005)
  • K.B. 24: 332 (1970)
  • K.B. 62: 245 (2007).
  • Lebrun & Stork, Enum. Pl. Afr. Trop. 4: 466 (1997)
  • White et al.,For. Fl. Malawi: 113 (2001)

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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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 Bulletin
Kew Bulletin

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.