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This species is accepted, and its native range is Cameroon to W. Tanzania.
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: Congo-Kinshasa, Katanga, Lufonzo [Lufogo] R., Mar. 1896, Descamps s.n. (BR!, holo.)
Morphology General Habit
Perennial herb, 1.5–3 m tall, becoming woody below
Morphology Stem
Stems erect, branching, quadrangular, or rounded-quadrangular where woodier, grooved, pubescent with short eglandular hairs, also with red sessile glands
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite or quadrate, with densely leaved shoots arising from the axils, sessile blades linear to very narrowly elliptic to oblanceolate, 1.5–6 × 0.1–0.7 cm, wider and more variable near the base of the stem, often folded near apex, with small widely-spaced serrations, apex acute, base sessile, pubescent with eglandular hairs, sometimes sparsely so, the hairs more plentiful on venation beneath, also with deeply set red sessile glands
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence dense, when in flower forming a narrowly conical shape, becoming more cylindrical in fruit, 55–140 × 15–20 mm flowers sessile in 1-flowered cymes bracts subtending entire inflorescence linear, 10–11 mm long, acute, deflexed in flower, pubescent with short eglandular hairs, persistent through flowering stage bracts subtending single flowers ± linear, 6–9 mm long, ciliate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx with tube ± 1 mm long at anthesis, outer surface with eglandular hairs, these more conspicuous in the fruiting inflorescence, also with scattered red sessile glands, inner surface with 0.5 mm long triangular scales present between calyx lobes lobes 5, subulate, ± equal, ± 3 mm long fruiting calyx with tube 4–5 mm long, ventrally gibbous, somewhat inflated, lobes 3–5 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla blue, 10–12 mm long tube with scattered eglandular hairs, very narrow and parallel-sided for ± 4 mm, then curving sharply downwards and broadening for ± 3 mm before opening out into two lips posterior lip shorter than anterior, 2.5–3 mm long, with eglandular hairs anterior lip 5–6 mm long, ± 2 mm deep, with eglandular hairs on the front of lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens connate for ± 1 mm, posterior pair exserted for ± 1 mm, anterior pair barely exserted near end of lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets ± 1.5 mm long.
Wet grassland; altitude unknown
Least concern; widely distributed
The names P. pallidecaerulea and P. linifolia are synonymised here because they fall within the variation described under P. descampsii. Pycnostachys descampsii has leaves that are variable in shape, usually opposite but not obviously so because there are densely leaved shoots in each leaf axil. The leaves have deeply set red sessile glands and short stiff hairs that are ± erect, and the venation is quite parallel in appearance. The distribution is centred on the Kundelungu Mts in Congo-Kinshasa, but reaches Cameroon in the west, and stretches east to Tanzania where it apparently mixes with P. parvifolia, which is centred in Zambia but stretches north from there. As a result, specimens from Tanzania appear to be somewhat intermediate (see notes under P. parvifolia). Without further material, it is only possible to highlight this as a problem, and it is likely that most specimens from Tanzania will be difficult to determine. Kahauruananga, Kibuwa & Mungai 2687, collected between Bulimba and Lukoma, Bidgood et al. 5768, and Bidgood et al. 5523 collected from Urambo area, are anomalous collections from T 4 that have many very narrow leaves that resemble pine needles, however they match the typical form in all characters of the inflorescence so are included here.
Range: Cameroon and Congo-Kinshasa (Katanga) Flora districts: T4 (intermediates with P. parvifolia in T 7)

Native to:

Cameroon, Tanzania, Zaïre

Coleus descampsii (Briq.) A.J.Paton appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Bidgood, S. [5768], Tanzania Pycnostachys descampsii K000468656
Bidgood, S. [5523], Tanzania Pycnostachys descampsii K000190753
Ledermann, C.L. [5738], Cameroon Pycnostachys pallide-caerulea K000025101 Unknown type material

First published in PhytoKeys 129: 40 (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.

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East 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.