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This species is accepted, and its native range is Tropical Africa, Madagascar.
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. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Type: Tanzania, Kilimanjaro, Kifinika Hill on Mawenzi, Volkens 965 (B†, holo. BM!, G!, iso.)
Morphology General Habit
Aromatic soft-wooded shrub or herb, 0.5–3 m tall
Morphology Stem
Stems erect or scandent, often purplish toward apex and purple-spotted below, quadrangular, branching, subglabrous or with adpressed hairs below, becoming densely pubescent above with short patent, often coloured, glandular or eglandular hairs and with pale sessile glands
Morphology Leaves
Leaves ascending or spreading, petiolate; blades ovate, 4–12 × 2–7 cm, crenate or serrate, sometimes weakly revolute, apex acute or acuminate, base cuneate to truncate, attenuate at petiole, densely to sparsely pubescent, with pale sessile glands which are sometimes slightly sunken; petiole 15–70 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence terminal and axillary with (2–)4–12(–14)-flowered verticils up to 20 mm apart, with bracts subtending 1–5(–7) flowers arranged in opposite or subopposite sessile cymes which sometimes bear 1 or 2 small leaf-like scales at the base; bracts ovate, 1–2 mm long; pedicels 6–15 mm long in fruit
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 1.5–4.5 mm long, sparsely pubescent with pale yellowish glands; fruiting calyx, 6–10 mm long, tubular, slightly curved with pedicel attached centrally at calyx base or excentrically; throat truncate; posterior lip lanceolate or ovate, acuminate at apex, decurrent, curving upwards; lobes of anterior lip lanceolate, median longer than lateral, curving upwards
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla blue or more rarely white, 9–18 mm long, sparsely pubescent with longer hairs on margin of anterior lip and with scattered pale sessile glands; tube 6–8 mm long,sigmoid; posterior lip much shorter than anterior; anterior lip (5–)6–10 mm long, horizontal, deeply cucullate enclosing stamens
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Staminal filaments fused at base, posterior soon free, anterior fused for a longer distance than posterior
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets brown with darker, slightly raised speckles, ovoid, slightly flattened, 1.5 mm long, not producing obvious mucilage.
Montane forest, often in bamboo or Hagenia zones; 1700–3300 m, down to 1250 m in T 2
Least concern; widely distributed
Very close to P. dolichopodus Briq. from South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe but this differs in having free, rather than shortly fused staminal filaments, and corollas shorter than 10 mm. P. dolichopodus tends to be a shorter plant growing up to 1.2 m tall. May also be confused with P. defoliatus which usually is leafless when flowering, has shorter pedicels (less than 5 mm long in fruit), and a narrower posterior lip of the calyx. Ward 933 from Idode, Tanzania ( T 7), approaches P. garckeanus (Vatke) J.K.Morton, a related species from Ethiopia. P. garckeanus differs in having pedicels 15–18 mm long and a longer fruiting calyx (11–22 mm long). Can also be confused with P. alpinus which has very obvious red, rather than pale, sessile glands on the flowers and stem. Other differences include P. sylvestris having a longer fruiting calyx (6–10 mm rather than 4–6 mm long), the corolla tube dilates more gradually in P. sylvestris and the corolla tube is ± equal in length to the anterior lip, whereas in P. alpinus the tube is usually shorter than the anterior lip.
Range: Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Zambia, Malawi and Madagascar Flora districts: U2 U3 K1 K2 K3 K4 K5 K6 T2 T3 T 4 , T6 T7

Native to:

Burundi, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Coleus sylvestris (Gürke) A.J.Paton & Phillipson appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Plectranthus chiradzulensis 11395.000
Verdcourt, B. [1979], Kenya Plectranthus chiradzulensis 15298.000
May 17, 2013 Katende [813], Uganda Plectranthus sylvestris K000938045
May 17, 2013 Katende [1125], Uganda Plectranthus sylvestris K000938050
Jan 1, 2013 Luke W.R.Q. [10829], Kenya Plectranthus sylvestris K000938023
Jan 1, 2013 Festo [1924], Tanzania Plectranthus sylvestris K000938024
Sep 1, 2007 Abeid, Y. [2101], Tanzania Plectranthus sylvestris K000248157
Tweedie, E.M. [882], Kenya Plectranthus sylvestris 2776.000
Scott Elliot, G.F. [9556], Uganda Plectranthus sylvestris K000431966 Unknown type material
Johnston, H.H. [s.n.], Uganda Plectranthus sylvestris K000431968
Whyte, A. [s.n.], Malawi Plectranthus sylvestris K000430787 syntype
Whyte, A. [s.n.], Malawi Plectranthus sylvestris K000430788
Keay, R.W.J. [FHI 28508], Cameroon Plectranthus sylvestris K000070631
Scott Elliot, G.F. [7798], Uganda Plectranthus sylvestris K000431967 Unknown type material
Meller, C.J. [s.n.], Malawi Plectranthus sylvestris K000430786 syntype

First published in PhytoKeys 129: 103 (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.
  • Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mt. Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34: 1-199.

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.