Coleus Lour.

Coleus aegyptiacus (Forssk.) A.J.Paton

This species is accepted, and its native range is Eritrea to Tanzania, SW. Arabian Peninsula.


Lamiaceae (Labiatae), A.J. Paton, G. Bramley, O. Ryding, R.M. Polhill, Y.B. Harvey, M. Iwarsson, F. Willis, P.B. Phillipson, K. Balkwill, C.W. Lukhoba, D.F. Otieno, & R.M. Harley. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Type: Yemen, Beit el Fakih [Bayt al Faqih], Forsskål s.n. (not traced) neotype, designated here: “Arabia”, Herb. Forsskål s.n. (KIEL!, neo., C, K!, photos)
Morphology General Habit
Aromatic succulent herb or soft-wooded shrub, 0.5–2.5 m tall
Morphology Stem
Stems decumbent, scandent or ascending, rounded-quadrangular, often succulent, leafy or almost leafless at flowering, sometimes softly wooded at base, sometimes purplish above, pubescent to lanate with long antrorse and patent eglandular hairs and with shorter glandular hairs on the inflorescence axis
Morphology Leaves
Leaves ascending or spreading, succulent, petiolate or sessile with attenuate base; blades triangular, ovate or trullate, 1.5–7 × 1–6 cm, crenate, apex acute to rounded, base cuneate to cordate, often attenuate at petiole, densely pubescent to tomentose, with pale sessile glands; petioles (0–)5–20 mm, leaves becoming sessile above
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence terminal, lax with 6–24-flowered verticils up to 25 mm apart, bracts subtending densely villose, sessile or shortly circinnate (rarely pedunculate in cultivation), 3–12-flowered cymes; bracts ovate, 3–6 mm long, apiculate, erect above forming an inconspicuous terminal coma, becoming deflexed later, pubescent on margins and abaxial surface, glabrous or much less densely hairy on adaxial surface; pedicels (3–)5–10 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 2.5–3 mm long, spreading, villose with long eglandular and shorter glandular hairs and with pale sessile glands; fruiting calyx (3–)4–5 mm long, shortly tubular, curved slightly upwards with pedicel attaching slightly excentrically behind the posterior lip; throat truncate; posterior lip elliptic to obovate, curving upwards, shortly decurrent; lobes of anterior lip ± equal, lanceolate, sometimes subulate at apex
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pale mauve or white marked purple on posterior lip, (8–)10–15 mm long, sparsely pubescent, with pale sessile glands; tube 3–5 mm long, sigmoid; posterior lip shorter than anterior; anterior lip 4–10 mm long, horizontal, shallowly cucullate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Staminal filaments fused, exceeding the anterior corolla lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets brown, shiny with reddish dots, broadly ovoid, 1 mm long, flattened, producing lots of mucilage speckled on outer surface.
Among rocks in Acacia-Commiphora bushland, also found in abandoned cultivation and disturbed ground; sea level–1300 m
Least concern; widely distributed
P. aegyptiacus differs from P. amboinicus in having longer pedicels (generally more than 5 mm) and a posterior calyx lip which curves upwards and is elliptic to ovate rather than horizontal, flat and apically hooded. Plants from cultivation and disturbed ground often have smaller mature calyces, shorter pedicels and lack mature nutlets. In these cases the upper lip of the calyx can resemble that of P. amboinicus.
Range: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and SW Arabian Peninsula Flora districts: U1 U3 U4 K1 K2 K3 K4 K6 K7 T2 T3 T5 T6 Z P

Native to:

Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen

Coleus aegyptiacus (Forssk.) A.J.Paton appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Colt [2688] Plectranthus tenuiflorus 50195.000 No
Mathew, B. [6070], Kenya Plectranthus tenuiflorus 6049.212 No
Bidgood, S. [6230], Tanzania Plectranthus aegyptiacus K000468195 No

First published in PhytoKeys 129: 13 (2019)

Accepted by

  • Paton, A.J., Mwanyambo, M. Govaerts, R.H.A., Smitha, K., Suddee, S., Phillipson, P.B., Wilson, T.C., Forster, P.I. & Culham, A. (2019). Nomenclatural changes in Coleus and Plectranthus (Lamiaceae): A tale of more than two genera PhytoKeys 129: 1-158.


Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Audru, J., Cesar, J. & Lebrun, J.-P. (1994). Les Plantes Vasculaires de la République de Djibouti. Flore Illustrée 1: 1-336. CIRAD, Départerment d'Elevage et de Médecine vétérinaire, Djibouti.
  • Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015). The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan: 1-400. Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hedberg, I., Kelbessa, E., Edwards, S., Demissew, S. & Persson, E. (eds.) (2006). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 5: 1-690. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R., Harvey, Y., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F., Phillipson, P., Balkwill, K., Lukhoba, C., Otiend, D & Harley (2009). Lamiaceae (Labiatae) Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-430.
  • Thulin, M. (ed.) (2006). Flora of Somalia 3: 1-626. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

  • 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.