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This species is accepted, and its native range is Central Kenya.


Darbyshire, I., Kiel, C.A., Daniel, T.F. et al. (2019). Two new genera of Acanthaceae from tropical Africa. Kew Bulletin 74: 39.

Darbyshire et al. (2010) considered this species to be Near Threatened (NT) based on its very restricted range (the EOO is approx. 3050 km2), with few collections known, and with potential loss of habitat due to expansion of agriculture. It can be locally frequent to abundant in suitable habitat (W.R. Q. Luke, pers. obs.) and is regularly consumed by cattle as an important fodder during dry periods (Odadi et al. 2013). However, in some parts of its range it is threatened by widespread habitat loss through conversion to commercial pastoral agriculture and the global population is considered to be declining. This species has, therefore, recently been provisionally assessed as Endangered (ENB1ab(ii,iii,iv)+2ab(ii,iii,iv)) by the East African Plant Red List Authority(W. R. Q. Luke et al., unpubl. data). This assessment is awaiting publicationon the IUCN Red List.
Kenya (Laikipia and Nyeri Counties; Flora of Tropical East Africa floristic regions K3 and K4)
This species occurs in upland grassland and open woodland, including Acacia drepanolobium Harms ex Y.Sjöstedt woodland, where it can form small mats amongst the grasses in the ground layer of the vegetation. These mats are conspicuous during the dry season, appearing green amongst the dried brown grasses (Odadi et al. 2013). It can also sometimes be found along road verges. It often grows on seasonally damp black clay soils; 1700 – 2150 m elevation.
Morphology General Habit
Procumbent or trailing perennial herb, branching widely from a small woody base and rootstock, forming small mats in the ground layer; young stems with two prominent pairs of opposite ridges and two broader opposite ridges, glabrous except for tufts of multicellular trichomes along the nodal lines
Morphology Leaves
Leaves sessile or on a poorly defined petiole to 3 mm long; blade fleshy, obovate (-elliptic), 0.8 – 1 (– 1.4) × 0.45 – 0.6 (– 0.75) cm, base cuneate, margin entire, apex obtuse or rounded, surfaces glabrous except for minute trichomes along the margin; lateral veins 3 (– 4) pairs
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens with filaments 1.2 – 2.3 mm long, glabrous; anther thecae offset by 0.25 – 0.3 mm, each theca 1 – 1.5 mm long, basally muticous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx with short basal tube 0.7 – 0.8 mm long; lobes linear-lanceolate, 3.7 – 5.5 mm long, margins narrowly hyaline, ciliate, surfaces with sparse short ascending trichomes
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla (13 –) 15 – 18.5 mm long, bright pink to mauve, rather densely retrorse-pubescent externally; tube (8 –) 10 – 11 mm long, 1 – 1.5 mm in diam. centrally, widening somewhat towards mouth, with scattered minute glandular trichomes on internal surface, rugula of two raised lines of trichomes on dorsal side of tube and barely extending onto upper lip; lips widely divergent, upper lip suberect, ovate or elliptic, 5 – 7 × 3 – 3.7 mm, glabrous internally, apex shortly bilobed or emarginate; lower lip pendant, 6 – 7.5 mm long, glabrous internally, lobes oblong, 2.5 – 3 × 1.4 – 1.8 mm, apices obtuse or rounded with irregular margins, median lobe slightly longer and narrower than lateral pair
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary ± 1.5 mm long, glabrous; style ± 8.5 mm long, ± sparsely appressed-pubescent or glabrous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pollen
Pollen prolate, 3-colporate, 6-pseudocolpate, polar diameter (P) 35 – 37 μm, equatorial diameter (E) 20 – 22.5 μm, P:E = 1.57 – 1.8, ora ± the same width as the colpi, the pseudocolpi parallel to the colpi, interaperatural exine reticulate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule 8 – 10 mm long, glabrous or with very few inconspicuous trichomes towards apex; seeds blackish at maturity, 1.3 – 1.8 mm in diameter, tuberculate, the tubercles short, rounded with minute glochidia.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences axillary, fasciculate, (1 –) 2 – 3-flowered; peduncle 0 – 3 mm long, glabrous; bracts linear-lanceolate, 5.5 – 9 mm long, green with narrow hyaline margin at least in the proximal half, ciliate with trichomes of variable length, midrib prominent abaxially, apex minutely apiculate; bracteoles resembling bracts but 5 – 8.5 mm long, more gradually narrowed towards apex, margin more conspicuously hyaline; flowers sessile
The author for Rhinacanthus ndorensis has sometimes been given as Schweinf. ex Engl. (e.g. see Klopper et al. 2006: 18). This is based on Engler (1892: 394) who recorded “Rhinacanthus ndorensis Schweinf. nov. spec. msc.” then cited the proposed type specimen, which he listed as v. Höhnel 76. However, the only description provided states “Gebüschpfl.” (i.e. bushy plant), a phrase applied to multiple taxa within Engler’s work and not considered to be sufficient to constitute a description as per Article 38.1 of the Botanical Code, hence Engler (1892) did not validly publish the name R. ndorensis. A short but sufficient description was provided by Schweinfurth (1892: 858) together with the type citation, which validated the name. The general habit, of trailing stems with axillary (sub)sessile clusters of flowers, is superficially most reminiscent of trailing members of the genus Dyschoriste Nees which is distantly related, in tribe Ruellieae of Acanthaceae (Tripp et al. 2013). Indeed, both Mildbraed (1926) and Agnew (2013) remark upon this potential confusion. However, Dyschoriste is easily separated from Kenyacanthus in, amongst other differences, having a markedly tubular calyx, an androecium comprising 4 fertile stamens or 2 fertile stamens + 2 staminodes, left-contorted corolla aestivation and seeds with hygroscopic trichomes.
From the limited information available, mainly derived from specimen data, this species appears to have a prolonged flowering season, recorded from early November through to late July. This spans the period of the two rains — the first rains occur primarily in October and November whilst the peak rains fall in April to May. The intervening period is dry, with January being the driest month.

Native to:


Kenyacanthus ndorensis (Schweinf.) I.Darbysh. & Kiel appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Kew Bull. 74(3)-39: 16 (2019)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R., Nic Lughadha, E., Black, N., Turner, R. & Paton, A. (2021). The World Checklist of Vascular Plants, a continuously updated resource for exploring global plant diversity. Scientific Data 8: 215.


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Kew Backbone Distributions

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Kew Backbone Distributions
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© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

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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 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.