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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Order: Santalales

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core eudicots

Twelve families of which four are encountered in southern Africa. Includes many species that are root parasites. There are 151 genera and about 1992 species worldwide, of which 26 genera and 292 species are native to southern Africa; a further species in another genus is cultivated in the region.

Families encountered in southern Africa


Seventeen genera and about 50 species, mainly tropical, and all root parasites without chlorophyl. Two species native to southern Africa: Mystropetalon thomii and Sarcophyte sanguinea.



Fourteen genera and about 103 species, distributed mainly in the tropics, with two genera and four species native to southern Africa.



Parasitic plants with green leaves that anchor themselves to the host plant with suckers that are thought to be modified adventitious roots.Native mainly to tropical and south temperate regions of the World. There are about 68 genera and 950 species, with 16 genera and about 60 species native to southern Africa.


Santalaceae (sandalwood family)

About 44 genera and 990 species worldwide, occurring in subtropical and temperate regions. Six genera and 226 species are native to southern Africa and a further species in another genus is cultivated in southern Africa.


Families not encountered in southern Africa: Aptandraceae, Coulaceae, Erythropalaceae, Misodendraceae, Octoknemaceae, Opiliaceae, Schoepfiaceae, Strombosiaceae. Ximeniaceae is included under Olacaceae.