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This species is accepted, and its native range is Ethiopia.


Ensermu & Darbyshire. 2018. Six new species of Barleria L. (Acanthaceae) from Northeast Tropical Africa. Kew Bulletin 73:1. DOI 10.1007/S12225-017-9725-2

This species has a very small range mainly in the vicinity of Negele in southern Ethiopia. It has an EOO of 2117 km2 which falls within the “Endangered” range threshold under IUCN criterion B1. It has been recorded as very local but common within an area of400 m2 at the type locality. In the documentation of the Liben Plains and Negele Woodlands Important Bird Area (BirdLife International 2017c), which includes the type locality for B. negeleensis, the threat pressure is recorded as high. This area is unprotected and is impacted by development of new settlements; there is also a potential threat from plans to develop a new airport for Negele in part of this area. Analysis of Google Earth imagery shows that there has been significant clearance for agriculture and settlement in the vicinity of Negele town and to the east covering an area of up to c. 250  km2 (just over 10% of the total EOO). However, it should be noted that this species has not so far been collected in these most impacted areas. Further, this species' range has not been well botanised beyond the few main access roads and there is still extensive intact natural habitat within its EOO, although it is not clear as to how much of this is suitable for this species. In view of the limited information available to date, this species is considered to be Data Deficient (DD) but it may prove to be unthreatened as the threats within its range are quite localised.
This species is restricted to the Bale and Sidamo Floristic Regions of southern Ethiopia. Map 1, black squares.
Barleria negeleensis occurs in open grassland and grassy-scrub with scattered Acacia, Combretum, Commiphora and/or Terminalia or in more dense Acacia-Commiphora woodland with Barbeya oleoides Schweinf., in sandy soil overlying granite or on limestone. It occurs at 1400 - 1700 m elevation.
Morphology General Habit
Spiny perennial herb, stems up to 40 cm long, creeping for most of their length but fertile portions decum­bent, woody at base, mature stems stout, 4.5 - 7 mm diam., bluntly 4-angular and with 4 ridges, bearing prominent scars from leaf bases; young stems pubes­cent with long ascending bristly hairs or sparsely so, mature stems can be glabrescent; internodes variable, up to 3 - 4 cm long but can be very short or largely absent in some parts of the stems
Morphology General Spines
Axillary spines present or absent, can be partially hidden by sheath­ing leaf base, pale grey, slender, stalk 0 - 12 mm long, usually 4-rayed (but those in distal leaf axils can be ± sessile and 2-rayed, resembling bracteoles), rays erect to spreading; longest rays 10 - 30 mm long, glabrous or sparsely glandular-pubescent
Morphology Leaves
Leaves sessile with base shortly sheathing stem; blade typically drying yellowish-green, linear-oblong to narrowly oblong- elliptic, 5 - 14 x 1 - 2.7 cm, base cuneate, margin entire, apex acute or obtuse and with sharp spine 1 - 3 mm long on cauline leaves or up to 8 mm long on leaves subtending inflorescences (these transitional to bracts), surfaces pubescent with bristly ascending hairs at least along margin, sometimes dense on margin, midrib and on main veins beneath; cystoliths very numerous and conspicuous; lateral veins 4 - 5 pairs, these and midrib typically dry yellow, prominent beneath
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens inserted ± 5 - 6 mm above base of corolla tube, exserted from tube for ± 12 mm; filaments 17 - 21 mm long, shortly pubescent with blunt hairs; anthers 2.5 - 3mmlong;lateral staminodes borne above insertion point of stamens; filaments 1.3 - 2 mm long, pubescent proximally; antherodes 0.7 - 0.8 mm long; adaxial staminode minute or absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx straw-coloured, anterior and posterior lobes sub-equal, lanceolate, (11 -)14- 17 x 4 - 6 mm, apex (sub)attenuate into a spine, external surface densely pubescent with long bristly ascending or appressed eglandular hairs and long patent glandular hairs, becoming more sparse at fruiting; lateral lobes linear-lanceolate, 11 - 15 x 1 - 1.8 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pale blue to purple, glabrous exter­nally;tube ± cylindrical 15 - 16 mm long, slightly swollen at the base where ± 3 mm diam., mouth ± 2.5 mm diam.; limb in weak “4+1 ” configuration, abaxial lobe offset by ± 2.5 mm, lobes sub-equal, obovate, 14.5 - 21 mm long, abaxial and lateral lobes 10 - 14 mm wide, lateral lobes somewhat narrower, apices rounded
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary c. 3 mm long, glabrous; style 27 - 29 mm long, glabrous; stigma linear, 0.5 - 0.6 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Capsule 13.5 - 16 x 6 mm including short beak 3.5 - 4 mm long, glabrous; seeds ± 8 x 6.5 mm, with straight golden-brown hygroscopic hairs
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences terminal, densely spiciform with imbricate bracts, conical or subcapitate in outline, 3.5 - 11 cm long, with a series of decussately arranged dichasial cymes 3 - several-flowered, lateral branches partially fused to subtending bracteoles; bracts pale green or distal portion purple-tinged, bracts towards base of spike ovate to oblong-elliptic, 22 - 40 x 8.5 - 17 mm including prominent grey apical spine 4 - 8 mm long; bracts towards apex of inflorescence becoming oblanceolate, then (14 -)18- 31 x (4 -) 5.5 - 7.5 mm, bracts at first ± densely pubescent with ascending bristly eglandular hairs and long patent glandular hairs, but becoming glabrescent at fruiting stage; bracteoles variable, those of first flower in dichasium lanceolate to oblanceolate and can resem­ble the bracts, 15 - 32 x (2 -)4- 7.5 mm, those of lateral flowers in dichasium more linear-lanceolate, (8 -)14- 20 x 1 - 2.5 mm, apex spinose, colour and indumentum as bracts
Barleria negeleensis is named after the small town of Negele (Negele Borana or Neghelle), close to which three of the four known specimens of this species have been collected. This is a second species within sect. Prionitis allied to Barleria quadrispina. It is easily separated by the characters given in the Recognition section, and this species has a very distinctive general appearance quite unlike that of B. quadrispina.Thetwoare compared, together with B. ferox, in Table 2. The collection from Bale Region, Friis et al. 11071, is considered to be a depauperate specimen of this species, although it is noteworthy that the inflores­cence is less densely hairy than in other flowering specimens, with shorter bristly eglandular hairs, and that the leaves dry a darker green tinged purple, whilst the Sidamo material has yellow-green leaves. More ample material from the Bale site is desirable; it may be a distinct regional form. There are also a number of other potentially distinct taxa within the Barleria quadrispina complex in the Horn of Africa. Of particular note are robust shrubby or sometimes scandent plants from the Bale and Sidamo Floristic Regions of Ethiopia with large, broadly ellipticleaves up to 8 x 5 cm (Bidgood et al. 4961, Friis et al. 10949, 14746, Gilbert et al. 8257, Gilbert & Sebsebe D. 8628). This taxon was treated as a form of B. quadrispina in the Flora of Ethiopia & Eritrea (Ensermu 2006) but appears to be sufficiently distinct at least for infraspecific separation. Hedren (2006a) also noted some distinct forms of this species in Somalia that may warrant distinction. A full revision of the Barleria quadrispina complex is required to fully delimit the taxa, but the two species described here are very clearly distinct. Barleria negeleensis is allied to B. quadrispina but differs in (1) the shortly sheathing leaf base and the typically longer and proportionately narrower, linear- oblong to narrowly oblong-elliptic mature leaves (leaf base not sheathing in B. quadrispina and blade obovate, oblanceolate or oblong-elliptic); (2) the bracts of the inflorescence being imbricate at least in the lower portion of the spike and these largely or partially enclosing the cymes (vs bracts not imbricate and cymes usually clearly exposed); (3) the bracts having a stout terminal spine 4 - 8 mm long (vs bracts with short slender terminal spine); (4) the broader and more gradually narrowed anterior and posterior calyx lobes, 4 - 6 mm wide (vs anterior and posterior calyx lobes markedly acuminate and only 1.5 - 3(- 4) mm wide at base), and (5) the larger capsules, 13.5 - 16 mm long with beak only c. the total length of the capsule and seeds c. 6.5 mm wide (vs capsule 9 - 11 mm long with beak c. ⅓ the total length of the capsule and seeds c. 2.5 – 4 mm wide in B. quadrispina). See Table 2.

Native to:


Barleria negeleensis Ensermu & I.Darbysh. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Kew Bull. 73(1)-1: 16 (2018 publ. 2017)

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.


Kew Bulletin

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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.