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This species is accepted, and its native range is W. Tropical Africa.


Phillipson, P. et al. (2019). Three species of Coleus (Lamiaceae) from the Guinean Highlands: a new species, a new combination and clarification of Coleus splendidus. Kew Bulletin 74: 24.

We assess Coleus latericola as Near Threatened [NT]. The extent of occurrence (EOO) of C. lateriticola is estimated to be 113,028 km2 which lies above the limit for Vulnerable status under Criterion B1, although its area of occupancy (AOO) is calculated as 120 km2, which falls within the limits for Endangered status under criterion B2. Threats occur primarily at Mt Nimba and Simandou due to plans for open-cast iron ore mining; at Dalaba in Fouta Djalon, habitat conversion for building plots and road quarrying material are also threats, however a portion of the known habitat of the species at Nimba lies within the formally protected area. At Ziama and on Mount Loma the species is relatively secure in protected areas at high altitude sites remote from human impact. It is known from 13 subpopulations in Guinea and Sierra Leone, one of which is encompassed within a legally protected area (the Nimba Mountains World Heritage Site), and these represent 13 locations, therefore lying above the limit for the Vulnerable status under Criterion B. However, the species could become threatened within the next ten years by the destruction of its habitat, a situation that justifies a preliminary risk of extinction assessment of Near Threatened (NT).
Guinean Highlands of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast
Occurs in deep soil, often among rocks in open habitats or the interface of grassland and submontane forest, 750 – 1480 m alt.
This taxon differs from Plectranthus monostachyus (P.Beauv.) B.J.Pollard (which will be transferred to Coleus by Paton et al., submitted) in having larger corollas (10 – 15 mm long rather than 5 – 10 mm long) and in having winged stems which are absent in P. monostachyus A collection from Regent (Melville & Hooker 359) on the Sierra Leonean coast adjacent to the capital, Freetown, is a geographic outlier for Coleus lateriticola. It was collected in a somewhat built-up area, and the habitat for the specimen is noted as "Wayside of road by Hibiscus hedge", suggesting the plant may have been introduced. Nevertheless, the locality is at the foot of a hill that reaches 600 m in elevation, and it appears from satellite imagery to possess natural vegetation; we therefore assume the species does occur naturally at this site. Chevalier (1920: 519) published the name Coleus lateriticola A.Chev. citing only the specimen Chevalier 13410 from Faranna, Guinea, and providing no description. The identity of this collection has not been determined, since it has not been found in the Paris Herbarium where is presumed to have been lodged. However, we can be sure that Chevalier did not intend his C. lateriticola as a new combination for Solenostemon lateriticola, which he had published earlier (Chevalier 1909), because he treated the latter separately as an accepted species in the same work two pages before, and without citng the collection from Faranna. Coleus lateriticola Chev. is a nomen nudum, and it has to be regarded as nomenclaturally invalid. It is unfortunate that this name exists already in the literature, however the rules of nomenclature oblige us to establish the new combination Coleus lateriticola (A.Chev.) Phillipson, O.Hooper & A.J.Paton, based on Solenostemon lateriticola for the species treated above upon its transfer to the genus Coleus. Although sympatric with Coleus ferricola at Nimba, Simandou, Ziama, Loma and other locations, the two species cannot be confused. Coleus lateriticola is not a small annual creeping herb, but a robust, 1 m tall, erect perennial, with distinctive winged stems. The three other subspecies recognised by Morton (1962) within Solenostemon monostachyus (P.Beauv.) Briq., and later transferred to Plectranthus by Pollard & Paton (2001), differ morphologically and ecologically. Each will be recognised as distinct species of Coleus in a treatment being prepared for the Flora of Gabon (Pollard & Paton in prep.). Coleus lateriticola is found amongst haematite rocks in the southern part of the Simandou range, but also in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. It occurs at the interface of submontane forest and grassland, and also at the foot of cliffs and large boulders where it can obtain both deep soils and high light, between 750 – 1480 m altitude. It is infrequent, but conspicuous. Plants seen in Jan. 2016 at Simandou, mid-dry season had already started into growth from clusters of oblong-elliptic underground tubers, each tuber 4 – 5 cm long, 1 – 2 cm wide (Cheek pers. obs.). Unlike Coleus ferricola and C. splendidus, C. latericola has linear-acuminate lateral calyx lobes and a broad, ovate, shortly toothed or emarginate lower lobe which presses towards the upper lobe at maturity. Coleus lateriticola is more closely related to C. graniticola (A.Chev.) A.J.Paton in press (syn. Plectranthus saxicola B.J.Pollard & A.J.Paton) from the Ivory Coast and Liberia and C. mannii Hook.f. (syn. Plectranthus occidentalis B.J.Pollard) widespread in West and West-Central Africa, which both have the calyx form and perennial habit of C. lateriticola. Coleus lateriticola has a distinctive winged stem. Some specimens of C. mannii can have indistinct wings on their stems, but C. mannii is found in forest understory and margins and is a much taller scandent-stemmed plant with pedicels exceeding the mature calyx in length, whereas C. lateriticola occurs among rocks in open habitats, is herbaceous with stems up to 1 m tall only, and has pedicels which are subequal to the mature calyx in length.

Native to:

Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone

Coleus lateriticola (A.Chev.) Phillipson, O.Hooper & A.J.Paton appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Kew Bull. 74(2)-24: 9 (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.
  • 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.


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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.