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This species is accepted, and its native range is S. 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 has a very restricted range along the Orange (Gariep) River on the Namibia-South Africa border, with an EOO of only 2,622 km2. It was recorded as common at Farm Girtis on the Namibian side by H. Hasheela in 2008, but only occasional by B. Strohbach & E. Chivell at Farm Haakiesdoorn. Most of the collections are from the vicinity of Goodhouse and on this stretch of the Orange River, including at Haakiesdoorn on the Namibia side, there has been extensive loss of habitat to agriculture including irrigation schemes. Attempts by W. Froneman to find this species at historic locations in Northern Cape were unsuccessful, and the sites were noted to be much disturbed (W. Froneman, pers. comm.). With 6 – 8 locations estimated based on inferred threats, and with an EOO well under 20,000 km2, this species is considered to be Vulnerable — VU B1ab(iii).
Namibia (Karas Region), South Africa (Northern Cape Prov.).
Barleria papillosa occurs in dry open rocky habitats including dry riverbeds, gravel slopes on riverbanks and open rocky hillslopes. It has been found growing in areas of bare rocks including crevices, between boulders and amongst scree, or amongst dwarf shrubland on stony sands in association with Euclea, Schotia and Petalidium; 120 – 400 m elevation. It occurs in the Karas Dwarf Shrubland vegetation type of Mendelsohn et al. (2002) and is restricted to the Gariep Centre of plant endemism (sensu van Wyk & Smith 2001).
Morphology General Habit
Compact spiny subshrub, forming rounded clumps 30 – 120 cm tall and to 100 – 200 cm in diam.; young stems pale-puberulent, hairs sometimes restricted to two opposite bands, stems soon turning woody with white peeling epidermis
Morphology Leaves
Leaves coriaceous, obovate or obovate-elliptic when flattened but conduplicate and curved in live state, 12 – 22 × 4 – 11 mm (l:w ratio ± 1.5 – 2.1:1), base attenuate or cuneate, margin with 3 – 10 harsh pale spines per side, apex obtuse or acute and with a prominent spine, surfaces puberulent including some glandular hairs; lateral veins 2 – 3 pairs but often indistinct; petiole 0 – 3 mm long, not well differentiated from tapered leaf base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens inserted 8.5 – 10 mm from base of corolla tube; filaments 16 – 24 mm long; anthers 3.8 – 4.5 mm long; lateral staminodes 0.8 – 1.8 (– 4) mm long, pubescent towards base, antherodes absent or rarely well developed, then up to 2.5 mm long; adaxial staminode to 1 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx at first pale purple (drying purple-black or purple-brown) but turning pale-scarious at fruiting; anterior and posterior lobes often markedly unequal; anterior lobe ovate or lanceolate, 12 – 16.5 × (4 –) 5 – 9.5 mm, base obtuse or rounded, margin denticulate or spinulose, each tooth with a terminal bristle, apex acute or obtuse with or without a short mucro or sometimes bifid and bi- or tri-mucronate, venation palmate-reticulate, external surface glandular-pubescent throughout, main veins often strigose; posterior lobe like anterior but broadly ovate, broadly ovate-elliptic or rarely more narrowly ovate, 15 – 20.5 × (6 –) 11 – 15 mm, base obtuse to shallowly cordate, margin sometimes with more conspicuous spinulose teeth, sometimes involute towards base, apex acute to attenuate and spine-tipped; lateral lobes lanceolate, 10 – 12 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pink to purple, darkest along the midvein of each lobe, 29 – 40 mm long, pubescent externally, limb with mixed eglandular and glandular hairs; tube cylindrical, 14.5 – 17 mm long; limb in “2+3” configuration but with abaxial lobe offset by 2 – 4 mm from remaining lobes, all lobes somewhat reflexed, abaxial lobe oblanceolate or obovate, 13.5 – 19.5 × 4.5 – 9 mm, apex rounded, apiculate or emarginate; lateral lobes somewhat narrower, 12.5 – 17.5 × 3.5 – 7 mm; adaxial lobes subulate or narrowly spathulate, 10.5 – 18.5 × 0.6 – 3 mm, fused at base for 2 – 2.5 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary with a ring of dense minute crisped white hairs at attachment point of style and extending onto style base; stigma clavate or subcapitate, 0.3 – 0.6 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule 4-seeded, largely enclosed within the calyx, 15.5 – 17 mm long including short beak, ± notably turgid, glossy, glabrous; seeds 5.2 – 5.8 × 4.6 – 4.8 mm, with cream-brown to purple-brown hygroscopic hairs.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences axillary but often clustered towards stem apices, of contracted unilateral cymes 2 – 10 cm long, 4 – 20+-flowered; bracts foliaceous; primary peduncle 2.5 – 10 mm long or uppermost cymes sessile; bracteole pairs unequal in size, the larger held erect and adpressed to the calyx, the smaller parallel to the inflorescence axis, the larger of each pair in the distal portion of the cyme lanceolate, 10.5 – 19 × 2.3 – 7 mm, margin usually with 1 – 12 short spines per side, apex spinose, midrib pale and prominent, surface glandular-pubescent; proximal-most pair of bracteoles usually narrower and more divergent, linear-lanceolate, the longer 15 – 29 × 3.5 – 5.5 mm, margin with harsher spines; sterile bracteoles often present at lower nodes as harsh paired or clustered patent spines, these typically linear-lanceolate, 17 – 38 × 1.5 – 3 mm; flowers sessile or first flower of each cyme shortly pedicellate
This species, and its close ally Barleria craveniae, are easily separated from other Barleria species by the unusual corolla form, with the narrow subulate or spathulate adaxial corolla lobes being diagnostic. Barleria papillosa has been oddly overlooked in past treatments of the genus — both by Clarke (1901) in Flora Capensis and by Obermeyer (1933) and Meyer (1957, 1968) in their treatment of the southern African and Namibian members of the genus respectively.
South Africa, Namaqualand, fl., without date, Wyley s.n. (holotype TCD* [TCD0013615]).

Native to:

Cape Provinces, Namibia

Barleria papillosa T.Anderson appears in other Kew resources:

First published in J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 7: 31 (1863)

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

  • Anderson, T. (1863). An enumeration of the species of Acanthaceae from the continent of Africa and the adjacent islands. J. Proc. Linn. Soc., Bot. 7: 13 – 54.
  • 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. (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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Obermeyer, A. A. (1933). A revision of the South African species of Barleria. Ann. Transvaal Mus. 15: 123 – 180.
  • 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
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.