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This species is accepted, and its native range is E. Tropical Africa to N. Malawi.


Acanthaceae (part 2), Kaj Vollesen. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2008

Morphology General Habit
Erect or scrambling/scandent foetid shrubby herb to 3(?–4) m tall, often forming large thickets; branches sparsely to densely sericeous-pubescent (hairs downwardly directed) to pubescent with long curly white to purplish many-celled hairs
Morphology Leaves
Leaves with petiole of stem-leaves 0.5–5 cm long; lamina of stem-leaves ovate to elliptic or cordiform, 1.3–14 × 0.7–9.5 cm, apex broadly rounded to acuminate, base truncate to cordate with sinus to 0.5(–1) cm deep, margin crenate to dentate with teeth to 5 mm long, beneath sparsely pubescent, densest along veins and lamina often glabrous, above sparsely pubescent all over
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence narrow, racemiform, sometimes with longer branches from basal nodes or with lateral inflorescences from upper leaf-axils, in depauperate forms sometimes reduced to a few flowers only, (1–)2–16(–21) cm long; flowers all solitary or in 3-flowered cymes basally; bracts green and leafy basally in inflorescence, gradually more bract-like and often purplish upwards, all persistent; basal bracts with indumentum as leaves, upper bracts, branches and pedicels pubescent to tomentose with long (some 2 mm or more) curly glandular and non-glandular white to purple many-celled hairs; pedicels to 2 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx glandular-pubescent or densely so with glands to tip of lobes; dorsal lobe (10–)14–24 mm long, ventral and lateral lobes (7–)12–20 mm long, dorsal 2–5 mm longer; lobes lanceolate to narrowly oblanceolate, 1–3 mm wide, subacute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla mauve to purplish blue (rarely white with a mauve tinge) with brown throat and yellow patch on lower lip, throat with dense band of long hairs on lower and lateral lips, thinner to almost absent on dorsal lobes, 17–30(–32) mm long, cylindric tube 1–2 mm long, throat 11–18(–20) mm long; upper and lateral lobes transversely elliptic, 7–13 × 8–13 mm, lower lip ovate-elliptic, 11–15 × 10–13 mm; papillate area on lower lip crescent-shaped
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens Filaments
Free part of filaments 2–6 mm and free fused part 1–2 mm, longer with scattered hairs, short glabrous; anthers 3–5.5 mm long, spur 1–1.5 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Stigma
Stigma 1–2 mm long, dorsal lobe absent (rarely present).
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary densely glandular apically, thinner downwards and base glabrous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule 17–20 mm long, glandular apically, glabrous towards base (rarely glabrous but for a few glands at apex)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Mature seed not seen.
A variety of evergreen montane forest and bush and, including bamboo forest, extending into the ericaceous zone; 2000–3300 m
Tweedie records mass-flowering of M. alpina on Mt Elgon in 1947, 1955 and 1963 with scattered individuals flowering in the intervening years. Similar mass-flowering has been recorded from the Aberdares and Rift Valley forests but seems to occur in different cycles on different mountains. B.J. Harris et al. 5081, the only collection seen from the Uluguru Mts has an almost completely glabrous capsule but is otherwise entirely typical. Material from the Udzungwa Mts has the usual capsule indumentum. In its core area in Kenya the flowers are always pale mauve to purple, but around the “edges” in Tanzania and Uganda, the species is occasionally reported as having white or almost white flowers. (e.g. Tweedie 1379) to small only 20 cm tall slender herbs with a few flowers only (e.g. Tweedie 895). It seems that these depauperate forms, which occur throughout the distribution area, are either from exposed habitats or are abnormal specimens flowering out of season. They are connected to the robust forms by all sorts of intermediates. Closely related to Mimulopsis excellens which has a longer uniformly hairy capsule, a corolla without a ring of hairs on the upper lobes and generally larger and wider leaves with longer petiole. M. alpina shows a very large morphological variation from large robust large-leaved plants
Type: Kenya, Aberdare Mts, Kinangop, Balbo 37 (FT, holo.).
Range: Malawi Flora districts: U3 K1 K3 K4 K5 K 6 T2 T3 T6 T7

Native to:

Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda

Mimulopsis alpina Chiov. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Racc. Bot.: 94 (1935)

Accepted by

  • 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 Backbone Distributions

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

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • K.T.S.L.: 605 (1994)
  • Lebrun & Stork, Enum. Pl. Afr. Trop. 4: 494 (1997).
  • Racc. Bot. Miss. Consol. Kenya: 94 (1935)
  • U.K.W.F.: 587 (1974)
  • ed. 2: 269, pl. 116 (1994)

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

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 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.