Ocimum L.

Ocimum centraliafricanum R.E.Fr.

This species is accepted, and its native range is Tanzania to Zimbabwe.


Lamiaceae (Labiatae), A.J. Paton, G. Bramley, O. Ryding, R.M. Polhill, Y.B. Harvey, M. Iwarsson, F. Willis, P.B. Phillipson, K. Balkwill, C.W. Lukhoba, D.F. Otieno, & R.M. Harley. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Types: Zambia, near R. Kalungwishi [Kalungwisi], R.E. Fries 1166 (UPS, syn.) & near Mbala, Msisi, R.E. Fries 1282 (UPS, syn.)
Morphology General Habit
Aromatic perennial herb with several stems arising from a thick woody rootstock, 15–75 cm tall
Morphology Stem
Stems erect, quadrangular, sparsely branched, pubescent with antrorse hairs
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite or rarely ternate, ascending, sessile; blade 2–6 × 0.2–2.5 cm, narrowly to broadly elliptic or narrowly obovate, entire or distally serrate, slightly revolute or flat, apex acute to rounded, base cuneate, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, glandular-punctate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence condensed, with 6-flowered verticils usually touching in flower, up to 2 cm apart in fruit; bracts linear to ovate, 3–4 mm long, erect above forming a terminal coma, soon deciduous, scar forming a bowl-shaped nectary; pedicels 2–3 mm long, ascending, flattened
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 4.5–6 mm long at anthesis, pubescent on tube and posterior lip; posterior lip purplish, obovate, mucronate; lateral lobes of anterior lip truncate, tomentose overall, the median lobes small, subulate-aristate; fruiting calyx 8–10 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla white, pink, purple or bluish, 6–11 mm long; tube 4–6 mm long, straight or slightly curved, dorsally gibbous, abruptly dilated at throat; lobes of posterior lip with a few small teeth; anterior lip horizontal, concave around filaments
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens exserted 10–18 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets pale brown, broadly ovoid, 2 mm long, smooth, producing mucilage when wet
Fig 23: 3, p 140
Montane grassland and Brachystegia woodland; 1650–2700 m
Least concern
O. centraliafricanum may be confused with O. obovatum var. obovatum, but can be distinguished by the tomentose lateral lobes of the calyx. It can also be distinguished from var. obovatum by the following characters which are difficult to observe on herbarium specimens: the corolla tube tends to be equal to rather than longer than the calyx tube and the posterior lip is longer in proportion to the tube. The lateral veins on the leaves of O. centraliafricanum tend to form a more acute angle with the midrib than in var. obovatum, but there is no clear discontinuity in this character. This species is often an indicator of copper-bearing soils.
Range: Congo-Kinshasa, Zambia, Zimbabwe Flora districts: T4 T7

Native to:

Tanzania, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Ocimum centraliafricanum R.E.Fr. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Jan 1, 2008 Bingham [13241], Zambia K000248351 No
Jan 1, 2008 Leteinturier [167], Zambia K000509734 No
Quarré [692], Congo, DRC Ocimum katangense K000347094 Unknown type material Yes

First published in Wiss. Erg. Schwed. Rhodesia-Kongo-Exp. 1911-1912, 1: 286 (1916)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R., Harvey, Y., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F., Phillipson, P., Balkwill, K., Lukhoba, C., Otiend, D & Harley (2009). Lamiaceae (Labiatae) Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-430.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R.M., Harvey, Y.B., Iwarsson, M., Otieno, D., Balkwill, K., Phillipson, P.B., Harley, R.M. & Willis, F. (2013). Flora Zambesiaca 8(8): 1-346. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Holm & Hiltunen, Ocimum: 32 (1999).
  • Wiss. Ergebn. Schwed. Rhod.-KongoExped.: 286 (1916)

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • 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.