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This species is accepted, and its native range is Nigeria to Cameroon, Tanzania to S. Africa.
A specimen from Kew's Herbarium


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. Pycnostachys, G Bramleyshaped. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Type: South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Umlazi Valley, near Durban, Drège s.n. (K!, holo. PRE, iso.)
Morphology General Habit
Perennial herb, 0.5–2 m tall, becoming woody below
Morphology Stem
Stems arising from a woody rootstock, erect, branching, quadrangular, rounded-quadrangular where woodier, grooved, pubescent with short downward-pointing eglandular hairs and red sessile glands
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite, or in whorls of three, sessile; blades narrowly elliptic to narrowly ovate, 3–8 × 0.5–2.5 mm, margins serrate, the serrations of varying depths and frequency, sometimes almost hooked at the tips, apex acute, base rounded, almost truncate, punctate with red and yellow sessile glands and pubescent with short eglandular hairs, the hairs more plentiful on margins and venation beneath, venation often raised and reticulate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence dense, when in flower forming a narrowly conical shape, in fruit 40–65 × 15–18 mm; bracts subtending entire inflorescence lanceolate, 6–10 mm long, acute, punctate, pubescent with short eglandular hairs, persistent through flowering stage; bracts subtending single flowers linear-lanceolate, 4–8 mm long, thick, pubescent, ciliate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx with tube ± 1 mm long, outer surface with eglandular hairs and scattered red sessile glands around the top of the tube and the base of the lobes, inner surface with 0.5 mm triangular scales between calyx lobes; lobes 5, subulate and ± equal, with a membranous wing either side of the midrib which narrows towards the apex, 2–4 mm long, with the occasional red sessile gland, sometimes with short eglandular hairs at the base; fruiting calyx with tube 4–5 mm long, long and narrow, somewhat ventrally gibbous, lobes ± straight, 3–5 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla white or pale blue, 9–11 mm long; tube pubescent, sometimes sparsely so, very narrow and parallel-sided for 4–5 mm, then curving sharply downwards and broadening for 2–3 mm before opening out into two lips; posterior lip shorter than anterior, ± 2 mm long, with red sessile glands, pubescent; anterior lip 4–6 mm long, 2–4 mm deep, with red sessile glands, pubescent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens connate for ± 2 mm, ± enclosed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets ± 1.5 mm long.
Marsh/swamp grassland; 600–2500 m
Least concern: widely distributed in south-eastern and southern tropical Africa
This species has a large distribution and includes a substantial amount of morphological variation. However, as noted by Bruce, loc. cit. (1940), all extreme forms of the variation can be linked by intermediate specimens, making it unfeasible to recognise any further taxa. The Tanzanian collections match P. uliginosa, which was synonymised by Bruce (1940). They have broader leaves with serrations that are more widely spaced and shallow; shorter flowering calyx lobes; the corolla is pubescent all over, not just on the lips, and its anterior lip is longer and deeper. However, given the extent of morphological variation within P. reticulata, and because there is no complete type material of P. uliginosa, it is not possible to formally recognise it at specific or infraspecific level. In the Flora Zambesiaca area, there is variation  in the leaf shape, often with leaves varying from narrowly ovate to ± elliptic on the same specimen (e.g. Chase 3702). In addition the leaf margin is variable, as serrations can be deep and almost hooked at the apex or much shallower, and the reticulate venation can either be conspicuous or not. This vegetative variation is in accordance with variation seen in collections from South Africa, as noted by Codd, loc. cit. (1985). In addition, South African P. reticulata can have longer calyx lobes (up to 6 mm) that have short eglandular hairs all along their length, not just at the base, and the corolla can be up to 18 mm long.
Range: Nigeria, Cameroon, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa Flora districts: T6 T7 T8


Labiatae, J. K. Morton. Flora of West Tropical Africa 2. 1963

Morphology General Habit
An erect half-woody, perennial herb
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Short spikes of blue flowers
In marshy grassland.

Native to:

Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zimbabwe

Coleus kirkii (Baker) A.J.Paton appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Dec 1, 1938 Kirk [s.n.], Malawi Pycnostachys reticulata K000405998 Unknown type material
Dec 1, 1938 Kirk [s.n.], Malawi Pycnostachys reticulata K000405997 Unknown type material
Milne-Redhead, E. [9001], Tanzania Pycnostachys reticulata 27439.000
Hepper, F.N. [1600], Cameroon Pycnostachys reticulata 3654.000
Goetze [806], Tanzania Pycnostachys reticulata K000405974 Unknown type material
Drege [s.n.], South Africa Pycnostachys reticulata K000406009 Unknown type material

First published in PhytoKeys 129: 61 (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.


Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Calane da Silva, M., Izdine, S. & Amuse, A.B. (2004). A Preliminary Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Mozambique: 1-184. SABONET, Pretoria.
  • 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.

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

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 2021. 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 2021. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.