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This species is accepted, and its native range is 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: Malawi, ex Hort. Kew, seeds sent from Mt Zomba by Livingstone (K!, 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, pubescent with short eglandular hairs and red sessile glands on younger growth, indumentum immediately below inflorescence more densely pubescent with long and short eglandular hairs and with red sessile glands
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite, petiolate; blades broadly to narrowly ovate, 2.5–13 × 1.5–7.5 cm, crenate or crenate-serrate, apex acuminate, base subcordate to truncate to cuneate, sometimes shortly attenuate to petiole, with red sessile glands and pubescent with short eglandular hairs, the hairs more plentiful on margins and venation beneath; petiole 8–50 mm long, pubescent and with red sessile glands
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence dense, when in flower forming a conical shape, in fruit 55–140 × 20–40 mm; bracts subtending entire inflorescence ovate, 15–25 mm long, acute to acuminate, enclosing buds then becoming deflexed in flower, pubescent, persistent through flowering stage; bracts subtending single flowers lanceolate to almost ovate, 4–15 mm long, conspicuous, pubescent, ciliate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx with eglandular hairs and scattered red sessile glands, tube ± 1 mm long at anthesis, with 0.5 mm long triangular scales present on the inner surface of the tube between calyx lobes, these with eglandular hairs; lobes 5, subulate, ± equal, 5–6 mm long; fruiting calyx with tube 3.5–4 mm long, ventrally gibbous, lobes semi-patent or patent, lengthening to 8–11 mm
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla blue to purple, 12–20 mm long; tube with red sessile glands, very narrow and parallel-sided for 5–9 mm, then curving sharply downwards and broadening for 3–6 mm before opening out into two lips; posterior lip shorter than anterior, 2–5 mm long, with eglandular hairs and red sessile glands; anterior lip 5–10 mm long, 3–5 mm deep, with scattered eglandular hairs and red sessile glands on the front of lip
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens connate for ± 2 mm, exserted for ± 1 mm or barely exserted
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets 1–1.5 mm long.
DISTR. K 4 (cultivated); T 2–5; Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa Upland grassland and wooded grassland with Brachystegia and Protea; 1500–2700 m
Least concern: widely distributed in southern tropical Africa
Cultivated in Tanzania at Lyamungo Experimental Station, 27 June 1936, Greenway 4525 and grown in Nairobi gardens for a period, e.g. Nairobi, 13 June 1947, Starzenski 8!, cultivated in Muriel Jex-Blake’s garden and elsewhere, 6 Feb. 1953, Bally 6546, and Nairobi, Kirichwa Road, weed, 1 July 1973, Gillett 20292. Coleus urticifolius (Hook.) Roberty in Bull. I.F.A.N., sér. A, 16: 330 (1954)Recognisable by its ovate, distinctly petiolate leaves, robust inflorescence with conspicuous bracts and a deeply boat-shaped anterior corolla lip, P. urticifolia is rather common in the eastern Flora Zambesiaca area, but less so in East Africa. The Tanzanian collections listed match the forms found in Malawi and Mozambique, with ovate bracts and larger leaves. However, there are a number of collections that are closest to P. urticifolia, but have smaller than typical leaves and inflorescences, e.g. B.D. Burtt 3909, Hepper & Field 5172.

Native to:

Malawi, Mozambique, Northern Provinces, Tanzania, Zimbabwe

Introduced into:


Coleus livingstonei A.J.Paton appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Brummitt, R.K. [11182], Malawi Pycnostachys urticifolia 36293.000
Harris, T. [263], Mozambique Pycnostachys urticifolia K000613338
Pycnostachys urticifolia K000406003 Unknown type material

First published in PhytoKeys 129: 67 (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

  • 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

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.