Nelsonia R.Br.

This genus is accepted, and its native range is Tropical & Subtropical Old World.


Acanthaceae (part 1), Kaj Vollesen, Flora of Tropical East Africa, 2008

Morphology General Habit
Annual or perennial herbs without cystoliths.
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers single, in dense ovate to cylindric terminal or axillary many-flowered spikes, pedicellate; bracts imbricate, spirally arranged, herbaceous, persistent, with a number of indistinct veins from base; bracteoles absent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx of 4 thin and herbaceous unequal sepals, dorsal wider, 5-veined from base; ventral bifid, 2-veined; lateral narrower, 1-veined.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla subactinomorphic or weakly 2-lipped with 2-lobed upper lip and 3-lobed lower lip, glabrous outside; tube short, cylindric, straight.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens 2, inserted in upper part of tube, ± included; filaments short; anthers 2-thecous, thecae ellipsoid, at same height, with or without small basal flanges; staminodes absent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary 2-locular, with 4–15 ovules per locule; style minutely bifid.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule (2–)8–30-seeded, ovoid-ellipsoid, sessile, rostrate (sterile from apex) with recurved apical part when ripe, retinaculae absent.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed ellipsoid-globose, flattened, covered with minute anchor-shaped hooks.
Range: 5 Species. Three in Africa one of which extends to India and SE Asia and is introduced in America, one in Australia and one in South America.
At least part of the type material of N. pohlii, the only name available for the native South American species, belongs to N. canescens. There is also one endemic species in South America, but the picture here has been muddled by the introduction of N. canescens from the Old World. As pointed out by Morton (l.c.) there are two distinct species over most of Africa (as separated below), and there is an additional species in Southern Africa. Br. from Australia is clearly distinct as pointed out by Barker (l.c.). Hossain (l.c.) that this genus only contains one pantropical species. N. campestris R. I find it impossible to agree with E.

Native to:

Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, Chad, China South-Central, China Southeast, Congo, East Himalaya, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Niger, Nigeria, Northern Territory, Philippines, Queensland, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Sulawesi, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, West Himalaya, Western Australia, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Florida, French Guiana, Honduras, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua, Panamá, Puerto Rico

Nelsonia R.Br. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland.: 480 (1810)

Accepted by

  • Daniel, T.D. & McDade, L.A. (2014). Nelsonioideae (Lamiales: Acanthaceae): revision of genera and catalog of species Aliso 32: 1-45.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • Bremekamp in Reinwardtia 3: 247 (1955).
  • —F.T.A. 5: 28

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • DC., Prodr. 11: 65 (1847)
  • Journ. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 9: 52 (1986)
  • K.B. 33: 401 (1979)
  • Proc. XIIIth Plen. Meet. AETFAT 1: 315 (1994)
  • Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl.: 480 (1810)
  • Reinwardtia 3: 247 (1955)
  • Willdenowia 14: 397 (1984)

  • 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 2022. 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 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.