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This species is accepted, and its native range is SW. Angola to NW. Namibia.
A specimen from Kew's Herbarium


Darbyshire, I., Tripp, E.A. & Chase, F.M. (2019). A taxonomic revision of Acanthaceae tribe Barlerieae in Angola and Namibia. Part 1. Kew Bulletin 74: 5.

Barleria cyanea is a range restricted species, currently known from an EOO of 31,950 km2. In Namibia it is apparently scarce, having been collected very few times despite growing in a well-botanised region. It was found to be uncommon and difficult to find in the Opuwo region in April 2015 (I. Darbyshire, pers. obs.). The herbaceous understorey of the mopane woodlands throughout this region is suffering from heavy overgrazing and degradation, particularly in a large radius around Opuwo town. In Angola, information is limited but it was recorded as extremely common at the base of koppies between Virei and Pediva (Tripp & Dexter 6948). It is known from over 10 locations (14 – 16 threat-defined locations estimated). It is currently assessed as Near Threatened — NT since it comes close to qualifying as Vulnerable under criterion B2, with a clearly defined threat to some of its locations.
Southwestern Angola (Cunene, Huíla and Namibe Provinces.), northwestern Namibia (Kunene Region).
Barleria cyanea occurs in a variety of habitats including among open sandy flats with Colophospermum mopane and Catophractes alexandri woodland and thickets, at the bases of and among rocky areas such as koppies, and in dry bushland along river margins; 400 – 1400 m elevation. It occurs in desert to semi-arid portions of the Kaokoveld Centre of plant endemism (sensu van Wyk & Smith 2001). In Namibia, it occurs in the Western Highlands and transition to the Western Kalahari vegetation types of Mendelsohn et al. (2002).
Morphology General Habit
Shrublet with slender, weak branches 10 – 70 cm tall, longer stems often arching and sometimes becoming procumbent, or scandent then to 200 cm tall, sometimes with a cushion of short leafy branches at base; young stems subangular, with two opposite lines of minute white retrorse hairs, often also sparsely pale strigose; mature stems woody with pale grey bark
Morphology Leaves
Leaves sometimes immature at flowering, elliptic to narrowly oblong-elliptic or somewhat oblanceolate, 1.2 – 3.6 × 0.6 – 1 cm (l:w ratio 2.7 – 5.4:1), base cuneate, margin entire, apex acute or obtuse, apiculate, immature leaves sometimes more spathulate with apex rounded or retuse, pale-strigose mainly on the margin and veins beneath; lateral veins 3 – 4 pairs; petiole absent or to 3 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens inserted 5 – 8.5 mm from base of corolla tube; filaments 8 – 13 mm long, pubescent towards the base; anthers 2.5 – 3.5 mm long; lateral staminodes 1.2 – 2 mm long, pilose, antherodes well developed, 0.7 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx at first pale pinkish, lilac or pale green, with prominent darker palmate-reticulate venation, soon turning pale- or whitish-scarious throughout; anterior and posterior lobes subequal or the latter marginally longer, lanceolate or narrowly ovate, 7.5 – 15.5 × 3 – 6.5 mm; base cuneate or attenuate, margin entire or obscurely and shallowly toothed, apex acute- or subattenuate-apiculate (anterior lobe rarely notched), surfaces convex externally and with the margins becoming inrolled in fruit, external surfaces pale-strigose, sometimes also with minute white retrorse hairs particularly towards the base; lateral lobes lanceolate, 5.5 – 10 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla blue, lilac or white, with or without purple speckling in the throat and on the base of the lobes, drying blue-purple with darker venation, 19 – 32 mm long, eglandular-pubescent externally; tube subcylindrical, 9 – 17 mm long, somewhat narrowed centrally; limb subregular, abaxial and lateral lobes elliptic or ovate, 9 – 18.5 × 6.5 – 11 mm (abaxial lobe usually the widest); adaxial lobes somewhat smaller, each lobe with apex rounded or obtuse
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary with a ring of minute crisped white hairs at attachment point of style, style sometimes also with few short spreading hairs towards base; stigma subcapitate, 0.6 – 0.7 mm long, apex unequally bilobed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule 4-seeded, 12 – 16 mm long, glabrous; seeds, 4.7 – 5 × 4.3 – 4.5 mm.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences axillary, flowers solitary, sessile or peduncle to 2.5 mm long; bracts foliaceous; bracteoles (linear-) lanceolate or narrowly elliptic, somewhat recurved, 1.5 – 4.5 × 0.5 – 1.2 mm, margin entire, apex mucronate, midrib prominent abaxially
Angola, Mossamedes Distr. “prope Quitibe de Cima prope Bumbo”, fl. June 1860, Welwitsch 5002 (lectotype BM! [BM000931112], selected here; isolectotypes K! [K000394511], LISU! [LISU223402], P* [P02894866]).

Native to:

Angola, Namibia

Barleria cyanea S.Moore appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Mar 16, 1897 Welwitsch [5002], Angola K000394511
Pearson, H.H.W. [2470 bis], Angola K001009499
Stopp, K. [BO 176], Angola K001009497
Pearson, H.H.W. [2470 bis], Angola K001009500
Gossweiler, J. [10825], Angola K001009498
Johnston, H.H. [s.n.], Angola K001009501

First published in J. Bot. 18: 265 (1880)

Accepted by

  • Darbyshire, I., Tripp, E.A. & Chase, F.M. (2019). A taxonomic revision of Acanthaceae tribe Barlerieae in Angola and Namibia. Part 1 Kew Bulletin 74(5): 1-85. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Govaerts, R. (1996). World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. MIM, Deurne.


Kew Bulletin

  • Benoist, R. (1950). Quelques Acanthacées des colonies Portugaises Africanes. Bol. Soc. Brot. Sér. 2, 24: 5 – 39.
  • Clarke, C. B. (1899). Barleria. In: I. H. Burkill & C. B. Clarke (1899 – 1900), Acanthaceae. In: W. T. Thiselton-Dyer (ed.), Flora of Tropical Africa 5: 140 – 169. L. Reeve & Co., London.
  • Craven, P. (ed.) (1999). A checklist of Namibian plant species. South African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 7, SABONET, Windhoek.
  • Darbyshire, I., Tripp, E. A. & Dexter, K. G. (2012). A new species and a revised record in Namibian Barleria (Acanthaceae). Kew Bull. 67: 759 – 766.
  • Hiern, W. P. H. (1900). Catalogue of the African plants collected by Friedrich Welwitsch in 1853 – 1861. Dicotyledons, part IV Lentibulariaceae to Ceratophylleae. British Museum (Natural History), London.
  • Klaassen, E. & Kwembeya, E. (eds) (2013). A checklist of Namibian indigenous and naturalised plants. Occasional Contributions No. 5, National Botanical Research Institute, Windhoek.
  • Klopper, R. R., Chatelain, C., Bänninger, V., Habashi, C., Steyn, H. M., de Wet, B. C., Arnold, T. H., Gautier, L., Smith, G. E. & Spichiger, R. (2006). Checklist of the flowering plants of sub-Saharan Africa. An index of accepted names and synonyms. South African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 42, SABONET, Pretoria.
  • Makholela, T. (2008). Acanthaceae. In: E. Figueiredo & G. F. Smith (eds), Plants of Angola / Plantas de Angola. Strelitzia 22. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Mendelsohn, J., Jarvis, A., Roberts, C. & Robertson, T. (2002). Atlas of Namibia. A portrait of the land and its people. Ministry of Environment & Tourism and David Philip, Cape Town.
  • Meyer, P. G. (1968). 130. Acanthaceae. In H. Merxmüller (ed.), Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika. J. Cramer, Germany.
  • Moore, S. le (1880). Enumeratio Acanthacearum Herbarii Welwitschiani Angolensis. J. Bot. 18: 193 – 199, 225 – 233, 265 – 270, 307 – 314, 340 – 342 & 362 – 366.
  • Van Wyk, A. E. & Smith, G. F. (2001). Regions of Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa. A review with emphasis on succulents. Umdaus Press, Hatfield.
  • Welman, W. G. (2003). Acanthaceae. In: G. Germishuizen & N. L. Meyer (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 92 – 106. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Darbyshire, I., Tripp, E.A. & Chase, F.M. (2019). A taxonomic revision of Acanthaceae tribe Barlerieae in Angola and Namibia. Part 1 Kew Bulletin 74(5): 1-85. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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 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.