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This species is accepted, and its native range is SE. Namibia to N. Cape Prov.


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.

This species is rather frequent and widespread in the drier regions of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and southeast Namibia. The EOO is in excess of 163,000 km2. It is not considered to be globally threatened and is assessed as of Least Concern — LC.
Namibia (Karas Region) and South Africa (Northern Cape Prov.).
Barleria lichtensteiniana is recorded from open areas in dry riverbeds with sandy and/or stony soils and amongst rocks on both plains and at the foot of or on hillslopes. It prefers full sun and is associated with dwarf shrubland, sparse grassland or bare ground; 700 – 1700 m elevation. In Namibia, it occurs primarily in the Karas Dwarf Shrubland vegetation type of Mendelsohn et al. (2002), and falls within Craven’s (2009) Gordonia floristic group.
Morphology General Habit
Spiny perennial herb or subshrub, with prostrate, procumbent, decumbent or scrambling branches 40 – 100 cm long from a woody base; young stems with dense short white (sub)appressed retrorse hairs sometimes most dense in two opposite furrows; mature stems glabrescent, woody with peeling sandy or whitish bark
Morphology Leaves
Leaves sometimes immature at flowering, blade ovate, lanceolate or narrowly elliptic, 1.8 – 4.2 × 0.7 – 1.4 cm (l:w ratio 2 – 3.8:1), base cuneate or attenuate, margin entire, apex acute or rarely obtuse, tip mucronate or spinose, surfaces with dense appressed short white hairs throughout when young giving the leaves a grey-green appearance, less dense at maturity, often also with scattered broad sessile glands; lateral veins indistinct; petiole (0 –) 2 – 9 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens of chasmogamous flowers inserted 12.5 – 14 mm from base of corolla tube; filaments 21 – 28 mm long; anthers exserted, 2.6 – 3.6 mm long; lateral staminodes 2.5 – 4.5 mm long, pubescent in proximal portion, antherodes poorly developed, 0.35 – 0.6 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx at first pale green to blue-green or mauve with darker reticulate venation, later turning pale-scarious, accrescent; anterior lobe broadly ovate, 17.5 – 20 × 15 – 18 mm in flower, up to 25 × 23 mm in fruit, base shallowly cordate, margin entire or often with few flexuose spines towards base and minute teeth formed by swollen hair bases elsewhere, apex obtuse, acute or rounded, mucronulate, surface rather hispidly hairy especially on the veins and margin and with ± dense short spreading hairs throughout; posterior lobe like anterior lobe but 21.5 – 30 × 16 – 20 mm in flower, up to 32 × 24 mm in fruit, margin with 7 – 14 prominent flexuose spines of varying length, up to 2.5 – 7.5 mm long, the longest spines often submarginal, apex attenuate into a prominent spine; lateral lobes lanceolate, 7 – 10 mm long, with some short glandular hairs
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla of chasmogamous flowers 33 – 40 mm long, pink, lilac-blue or mauve-pink, glandular- and eglandular-pubescent externally; tube 22.5 – 27 mm long, cylindrical but somewhat expanded towards mouth; limb subregular but with sinus between adaxial pair at a wider angle than other sinuses; abaxial lobe obovate or obovate-elliptic, 11 – 15.5 × 5.5 – 10 mm, apex rounded or shallowly emarginate, lateral lobes (obovate-) elliptic, 11.5 – 16 × 5.5 – 11 mm, apices rounded or obtuse, adaxial lobes elliptic to ovate-elliptic, 11.5 – 15.5 × 5.5 – 9.5 mm, apices rounded to acute; cleistogamous flowers frequent, appearing as buds c. 4.5 mm long with the style forming a u-shaped loop beyond the closed corolla lobes, stigma held below anthers
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary with ring of dense minute crisped white hairs at attachment point of style and extending onto style base; stigma clavate, 0.6 – 0.9 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule 4-seeded, 14 – 17 mm long, glabrous; seeds 5.5 – 7 × 5.5 – 6.5 mm.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences axillary, contracted strobilate unilateral cymes 3 – 8.5 cm long in the upper leaf axils, 5 – 20+-flowered; axis somewhat inrolled at fruiting; bracteoles imbricate and enclosing the base of the calyces, green or pink-tinged, ovate or lanceolate, pairs unequal, the larger 17 – 29 × 7 – 14.5 mm, margin with prominent flexuose spines 2.5 – 7 mm long, apex spinose, surface tripliveined, main veins and margin hispid, surface with short appressed or somewhat spreading hairs; paired reduced sterile bracteoles sometimes present at lower nodes
Marloth (1932) notes that the entire inflorescence in this species “when ripe...becomes detached and rolls about in the wind like a rose of Jericho or a plant of Leucas” (p. 172). This is one of several species in the genus, including Barleria capitata, B. macrostegia and possibly B. carruthersiana in Angola and Namibia, in which the inflorescence axes curve upwards at fruiting so that the inflorescences become inrolled which would potentially aid dispersal by detachment and rolling along the ground (Darbyshire 2015: 75). Masters (1870) describes and illustrates (his Fig. 13) the cleistogamous flowers that occur regularly in this species, in which the stigma is held within the short corolla tube by the constriction below the anthers, the style extending in a u-shaped bow beyond the unopened lobes.
South Africa, plains at the foot of the Asbestos Mts, between Kloof village and Witte Water, Griqualand West, fl. 17 Feb. 1812 [locality and date not cited in protologue or listed on lectotype — recorded on K sheet only], Burchell 2068 (lectotype G-DC* [G00450133], selected here; isolectotypes GZU* [GZU000271492], K! [K001295766], PRE). Additional original syntypes: South Africa, “ad Grootriviers poort in prom. B. Sp.”, fr., date unknown, Lichtenstein s.n. (syntype B†; isosyntype GZU* [GZU000250927]); Griqualand West, Hay Div., Asbestos Mts, at Kloof Village, fr. 15 Sept. 1811 [locality and date not cited in protologue — listed on K sheet only], Burchell 1652 (syntype G-DC* [G00450134]; isosyntype K! [K001295767]).

Native to:

Cape Provinces, Namibia

Barleria lichtensteiniana Nees appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Burchell, J.W. [2068], South Africa K001295766 isosyntype
Burchell, J.W. [1652], South Africa K001295767 isosyntype

First published in Candolle, Prodr. 11: 235 (1847)

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.
  • Govaerts, R. (1996). World Checklist of Seed Plants 2(1, 2): 1-492. MIM, Deurne.


Kew Bulletin

  • Clarke, C. B. (1901). Barleria. In: W. T. Thiselton-Dyer (ed.), Flora Capensis. Vol. 5 (Pt. 1): 44 – 55 . L. Reeve & Co., London.
  • Craven, P. (2009). Phytogeographic study of the Kaokoveld Centre of Endemism. Ph.D. thesis, University of Stellenbosch.
  • Craven, P. (ed.) (1999). A checklist of Namibian plant species. South African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 7, SABONET, Windhoek.
  • Darbyshire, I. (2015). Barleria. In: J. R. Timberlake & E. S. Martins (eds), Flora Zambesiaca. Vol. 8 (6): 37 – 122. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 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.
  • Dinter, K. (1918). Index der aus Deutsch-Südwestafrika bis zum jahre 1917 bekannt gewordenen pflanzenarten. II. Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 15: 340 – 355.
  • 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.
  • Marloth, R. (1932). The Flora of South Africa. Vol. III Sympetalae; Sect. II Myoporaceae – Compositae. Darter Bros. & Co., Cape Town; Whelden & Wesley Ltd., London.
  • Masters, M. T. (1870). New Garden Plants. Barleria lichtensteiniana Nees v. Esenb. Gard. Chron. 1870: 73.
  • 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. (1957). Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Acanthaceen Südwestafrikas. Mitt. Bot. Staatssamml. München 2: 368 – 385.
  • Meyer, P. G. (1968). 130. Acanthaceae. In H. Merxmüller (ed.), Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika. J. Cramer, Germany.
  • Nees von Esenbeck, C. G. D. (1847). Acanthaceae. In: A. de Candolle (ed.), Prodromus Systematis Naturalis Regni Vegetabilis. Vol. 11: 46 – 51. Masson, Paris.
  • Obermeyer, A. A. (1933). A revision of the South African species of Barleria. Ann. Transvaal Mus. 15: 123 – 180.
  • 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.

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

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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.

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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.