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This genus is accepted, and its native range is Africa, Indian Subcontinent.


Harley, R.M. et al. (2004). Labiatae, in The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants (K. Kubitzki, ed. in chief) VI: 167-275. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York.

Tall herbs, shrubs or rarely small trees, with simple hairs
Leaves simple, usually toothed
Inflorescence thyrsoid, cymes many-flowered, rarely long-pedunculate
Bracteoles spiny
Flowers large (17-50 mm long)
Calyx ± zygomorphic to almost 2-lipped, 8-10-lobed, usually spinescent
Corolla strongly 2-lipped, 4-lobed (1/3), posterior lip long, hooded, bearded and densely pubescent outside, with reddish, orange or cream hairs, anterior lip shorter than posterior, deflexed, soon withering
Stamens not or only shortly exserted from corolla, thecae weakly distinct
Stigma-lobes strongly unequal, upper lobe minute or apparently absent
Nutlets oblong-trigonous, obliquely truncate and with sessile glands at apex.
2n = 24, 26, 28.  About ten species. Apparently derived from within Leucas (Ryding 1998).
Mostly hill slopes and rocky or disturbed ground
Tropical and Southern Africa, L. nepetifolia (L.) R. Br. introduced as a weed elsewhere in the tropics.


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. Leonotis, M Iwarsson & YB Harve. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs to 8 m tall
Stems quadrangular, occasionally rounded at base, pubescent, nodes thicker than internodes, often with prominent leaf scars
Leaves petiolate or occasionally sessile, margins crenate
Inflorescence composed of 1–5 verticils per shoot; verticils dense, spherical to ellipsoid, manyflowered; bracts leaf-like; bracteoles linear, mucronate
Calyx tubular, 10-veined, 8–10-toothed; teeth triangular, mucronate
Corolla tubular, 2-lipped, white or faintly pink, covered by red, orange, yellow, buff (or sometimes white) hairs; tube with 1–3 basal rings of hairs within; posterior corolla lip entire, slightly shorter than the tube, curved inwards at apex (hooded), with a fringe of long hairs within at the apex covering the anthers and stigma, occasionally coloured white; anterior lip 3-lobed, considerably shorter than the posterior lip, darker than the rest of the corolla, reflexed to patent, subglabrous, shrivelled or reflexed on corolla tube; median lobe occasionally longer than the outer lobes
Stamens 4, inserted at the mouth of the corolla, didynamous, the lower pair longer; thecae 2, divaricate
Disk ventrally enlarged
Ovary deeply 4-lobed; style gynobasic, not bifid, anterior branch only developed, posterior branch minute or absent; dorsal stigma surface sessile
Nutlets dark or pale brown, obconic, 3-angled in transverse section, distally truncate, with sessile glands, otherwise glabrous.
L. leonurus (L.) R. Br. (from South Africa) and L. nepetifolia are cultivated throughout the world. The shape and colour of the corolla is adapted to pollination by sunbirds.

Native to:

Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Central African Repu, Chad, Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Free State, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., India, Ivory Coast, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:

Alabama, Aldabra, Argentina Northeast, Bahamas, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Cambodia, Canary Is., China South-Central, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Jawa, Leeward Is., Malaya, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Morocco, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Seychelles, Society Is., Southwest Caribbean, St.Helena, Sumatera, Suriname, Trinidad-Tobago, Turks-Caicos Is., Venezuela, Venezuelan Antilles, Vietnam, Windward Is.

Leonotis (Pers.) R.Br. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holland.: 504 (1810)

Accepted by

  • Iwarsson, M. & Harvey, Y. (2003). Monograph of the genus Leonotis (Pers.) R.Br. (Lamiaceae) Kew Bulletin 58: 597-645.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • —F.T.A. 5: 490.

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Kubitzki, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 7: 227 (2004)
  • K.B. 58: 597–645 (2003)
  • Prodr.: 504 (1810)

Lamiaceae Key Genus Fact Sheets

  • Harley RM, Atkins S, Budantsev AL, Cantino PD, Conn BJ, Grayer R, Harley MM, de Kok RPJ, Krestovskaja T, Morales R, Paton AJ, Ryding O, and Upson T. 2004. Labiatae, in The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants (K. Kubitzki, ed. in chief) VI: 167-275. Sp
  • Ryding, O. (1998). Phylogeny of the Leucas group (Lamiaceae). Systematic Botany, 235-247.
  • Iwarsson, Fl. Southern Africa 28, 4: 31-38 (1985).
  • Hemisodon Raf., Fl. Tellur. 3: 88 (1837).
  • Leonotis (Pers.) R. Br., Prodr. Fl. Nov. Holl.: 504 (1810)
  • Phlomis L. sect. Leonotis Pers. (1807).
  • Leonurus Mill., Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4 (1754), nom. illeg.

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

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.

Lamiaceae Key Genus Fact Sheets
Nina Davies, Gemma Bramley and Don Kirkup, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew