Coleus Lour.

Coleus barbatus var. barbatus

This variety is accepted, and its native range is Eritrea to N. Tanzania, Arabian Peninsula Indian Subcontinent to S. Central China.


Suddee, S., A. J. Paton, & Parnell, J. (2004). A Taxonomic Revision of Tribe Ocimeae Dumort. (Lamiaceae) in Continental South East Asia II. Plectranthinae. Kew Bulletin, 59(3), 379-414. doi:10.2307/4110950

Tropical East Africa, West Asia, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, South China and Thailand.
On rocks in open places in forest, in bamboo forest, alt. 500 - 2100 m. Flowering & fruiting all year round.
Morphology General Habit
Suberect or ascending annual or short-lived perennial herbs up to 50 cm tall
Morphology Leaves
Leaves subfleshy, ovate-lanceolate, 30 - 110 x 15 - 50 mm, apex acute, base cuneate or attenuate and decurrent on petiole, margin serrate-crenate, pilose with sessile glands both sides, veins prominent beneath; petioles 10 - 30 mm long, pilose
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens united for about half their length, included in anterior corolla lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx campanulate, 3 - 4 mm long at anthesis, 6- 8 mm long in fruit; posterior lip ovate, acute or acuminate at apex, margin shortly ciliate, decurrent on tube, shortly pubescent on both sides, with sessile glands outside, nerves prominent inside; anterior lip with teeth subequal, lanceolate, ± equal in length to posterior; tube 10-nerved, pubescent, with sessile glands outside, hairs denser at tube base, with a ring of dense white hairs inside throat, not saccate at anterior base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla purple, 10 - 20 mm long; posterior lip sparsely pubescent, with sessile glands on back, median lobes rounded at apex, much larger than the minute acute lateral lobes; anterior lip ovate-oblong, 5 - 12 mm long, concave, glabrous inside, sparsely pubescent with sessile glands outside; tube 5 - 8 mm long, sigmoid below the middle, gradually dilated towards base, widely expanded at throat, glabrous outside
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Disc
Disc with anterior side obtuse at apex, exceeding ovary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Style bifid with equal branches, slightly longer than anterior stamens
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets black, globose, c. 1 mm in diameter, smooth, shining, not producing mucilage when wet.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence terminal, simple, up to 30 cm long; axis hirsute, with sessile glands; verticils clearly interrupted, 5 - 25 mm apart; cymes sessile, 3 - 4- flowered; bracts sessile, caducous, ovate-lanceolate, 5 -8 x 7- 12 mm, cuspidate, ciliate, pubescent; pedicels 3- 4 mm long at anthesis, 4- 5 mm long in fruit, pubescent
Morphology Stem
Stems branched, sometimes rooting at nodes, quadrangular or round- quadrangular, sparsely to densely hirsute, with sessile glands
The specimens studied belong to the smaller variety, var. barbatus. The very large variety, var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A. J. Paton, is cultivated and sometimes naturalised in tropical east Africa and Sri Lanka (Lukhoba & Paton 2003). Plectranthus forskohlaei Willd., a basionym of Briquet's name was a superfluous name for Ocimum hadiense Forssk. = Plectranthus hadiensis (Forssk.) Schweinf. ex Sprenger.
Illustration in Bot. Rep. 9: t. 594 (1809), based on a plant cultivated in England, raised from seed sent from Abyssinia by Lord Valentia (lectotype illustration!); Epitype: Eritrea, Dekemhare, 5 Sept. 1954, Colville 47 (K, epitype chosen by Ryding in 1999).

Native to:

China South-Central, East Himalaya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Oman, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, West Himalaya, Yemen

Introduced into:

Cape Provinces, Madeira, St.Helena

Abyssinian Coleus

Coleus barbatus var. barbatus appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Ellenbeck [743], Somalia Plectranthus pseudobarbatus K000431895 Unknown type material Yes
Kew Gardens [s.n.], Ethiopia Plectranthus pseudobarbatus K000431896 Yes
Pereira, B.A.S. [283], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930693 Yes
Buzato, S. [s.n.], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930700 Yes
Lindeman, J.C. [2522], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930715 Yes
Glaziou, A.F.M. [20938], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930706 Yes
Glaziou [10570], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930709 Yes
Gardner, G. [4506], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930691 Yes
Mimura, I. [441], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930705 Yes
s.coll. [s.n.], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930699 Yes
Glaziou [8637], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930710 Yes
Usteri [53], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930702 Yes
Hoehne, W. [13193], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930694 Yes
Mimura, I. [441], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930704 Yes
Irwin, H.S. [5342], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930697 Yes
s.coll. [15], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930687 Yes
s.coll. [174], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930686 Yes
Regnell, A.F. [I 85], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930689 Yes
Glaziou, A.F.M. [20939], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930707 Yes
Burchell [4071], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930701 Yes
Hunt, D.R. [6641], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930698 Yes
Arbo, M.M. [3954], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930688 Yes
Nicolack, V. [60], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930716 Yes
Regnell, A.F. [85], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930692 Yes
Glaziou, A.F.M. [7596], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930712 Yes
Gardner, G. [4506], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930690 Yes
Reitz [3513], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930714 Yes
Sellow [s.n.], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930696 Yes
Claussen, P. [s.n.], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930713 Yes
Dusén, P. [10353], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930717 Yes
Riedel [82], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930695 Yes
Porto, P.C. [5776], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930711 Yes
Dusén, P. [s.n.], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930708 Yes
Weir, J. [283], Brazil Coleus speciosus K000930703 Yes

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Lambdon, P. (2012). Flowering plants & ferns of St Helena: 1-624. Pisces publications for St Helena nature conservation group.
  • Mosti, S., Raffaelli, M. & Tardelli, M. (2012). Contributions to the flora of central-southern Dhofar (Sultanate of Oman). Webbia; Raccolta de Scritti Botanici 67: 65-91.
  • Muer, T., Sauerbier, H. & Cabrara Calixto, F. (2020). Die Farn- und Blütenpflanzen Madeiras: 1-792. Verlag und Versandbuchhandlung Andreas Kleinsteuber.

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • 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 Bulletin

    Kew Bulletin

  • Kew Living Collection Database

    Common Names from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Living Collection

  • 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.

  • Kew Science Photographs

    Copyright applied to individual images