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SWAZILAND'S BIODIVERSITY: Swaziland's Endemic Plants

Ocimum motjaneanum McCallum & K. Balkwill

Information extracted from Donald McCallum's unpublished thesis.

Ocimum motjaneanum
Ocimum motjaneanum McCallum & K. Balkwill

Description: Procumbent branched perennial; stems annual, about 15 cm long at first flowering and 35 cm or more at the end of the growing season, spreading along the ground, 3 cm tall, becoming upright and 8 12 cm tall at the inflorescences, square, grooved down each face, sparsely hairy; rootstock a woody caudex, narrowly conical, 9 15 2.0 3.5 cm, with the stems arising around the edge. Leaves bright green, elliptic or obovate, 9 17 20 32 mm, glabrous above and below, main and secondary veins translucent, raised above and below; apex acute or obtuse; margin entire or with 2 or 3 small teeth on each side in the apical half; petiole short, (0 ) 1 2 ( 4) mm long. Inflorescences: 2 6 verticels of opposite 3-flowered cymes. All three flowers in a cyme usually open simultaneously. Corolla white or tinged mauve

Distribution: Forbes Reef and Motjane ultramafic sites.

Discussion: Ocimum motjaneanum most closely resembles O. obovatum E. Mey. ex Benth var. hians Benth., which occurs in the same area. Differences between these taxa are: the prostrate habit, the raised veins on the upper surface and the bright green glabrous or almost glabrous leaves. The leaves of O. obovatum var. hians are a duller green due to a denser covering of sessile glands and usually trichomes on the veins and at least a few scattered between veins. The leaf shape is also different, the leaves of O. obovatum var. hians are mostly relatively narrower, usually around twice as long as broad compared to somewhat less than twice as long as broad in O. motjaneanum. Another difference is O. obovatum var. hians usually has at least one flower that is out of phase with the rest. The many differences between taxa suggest a long separation, but the lack of geographic separation suggests a more recent origin.

IUCN Red List assessment: Critically Endangered (CR B1a+b(iii)) or CR B2 a + b(iii).

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Reference Material

Malolotja Flora
Mlawula Flora
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