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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Bignoniaceae (Jacaranda family)

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 > Asterids > Euasterid I > Order: Lamiales

Worldwide, there are about 750 species and 109 genera in the family Bignoniaceae, with 10 genera and 16 species native to southern Africa, three genera and four species naturalised and an additional 25 genera and 60 species cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


One species: Catophractes alexandri, with a subtropical distribution in Africa, extending down into southern Africa as far south as Gordonia in the Northern Cape. See Flora of Zimbabwe.


Dolichandrone alba

Native to Mozambique.



One species is native to southern Africa, and two species are cultivated in the region.



One species: Kigelia africana (Sausage Tree), found in tropical Africa, its distribution extending down into southern Africa about as far south as Durban. See Flora of Zimbabwe.



A total of 10 species, found in tropical Africa, and Asia, with two species native to southern Africa, and one cultivated in the region.


Two species, native to Africa: Podranea ricasoliana is found at Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape and Podranea brycei is found in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

Podranea sp.


A total of seven species, native to Africa and Madagascar, with five species native to southern Africa. 



One species native to southern Africa: Spathodea campanulata (African flame tree, Uganda flame tree).

Spathodea campanulata


The fifteen species are distributed in the Old World tropics, with one species native to southern Africa and another two species cultivated.


Tecoma (Cape Honeysuckle genus)


There are about 13 species, of which 12 occur in the neotropics. The remaining one, Tecoma capensis (Cape Honeysuckle) is found in southern Africa, from Limpopo down to the Eastern Cape. It is also widely grown as a garden plant. An additional species is naturalised in southern Africa, and another five species are cultivated in the region.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


One species is naturalised in southern Africa, and another species is cultivated.



The 49 species are native to the neotropics. Jacaranda mimosifolia, is grown as a garden and street tree in southern Africa. However, it has become naturalised in woodland regions of South Africa and has now been declared an ornamental invader plant, meaning that it used for ornamental purposes in demarcated areas. An additional two species are cultivated in southern Africa, but not naturalised.

Jacaranda mimosifolia (Jacaranda tree)


The three or four species are native to tropical America. Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cat's claw creeper) is native from Mexico to Argentina and has been introduced to South Africa as a garden plant. However, it has become naturalised in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal and is a declared Category 1 invasive plant in South Africa.


Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

There are many exotic species from tropical regions that have been imported for cultivation in gardens in southern Africa, because of their large, colourful flowers and growth form (mainly creepers and large trees).

List from Glen (2002). The species name is provided in genera that have only one species cultivated in southern Africa.

Adenocalymma inundatum

Indigenous from Guyana to Peru.


Anemopaegma chamberlaynii

Native to Brazil.


Arrabidaea selloi (Cipó camarão de sello)

Indigenous from Brazil to Argentina.


Bignonia capreolata



Two species cultivated.



Three species cultivated.


Chilopsis linearis (Flowering willow)

Native to southwestern USA, and Mexico.



Two species cultivated.


Crescentia cujete (Tree calabash)

Indigenous from Mexico to Panama.



Two species cultivated.


Cybistax antisyphilitica (Ipe verde)

Indigenous from Surinam to Argentina.



There are nine species in this genus of climbing, evergreen perenials, native to Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. Of these, two are cultivated in gardens in southern Africa: Distictis buccinatoria (Bignonia cherere), pictured on the right, and Distictis laxiflora.

Incarvillea delavayi

Native to China.


Ophiocolea floribunda

Native to Madagascar.



Two species cultivated.


Parmentiera cereifera (Candle tree, Chote)

Native to Panama.


Phyllarthron madagascariense

Native to Madagascar.



Two species cultivated.


Pyrostegia venusta (Flame vine, Golden shower)

Native to Brazil and Paraguay.


Two species cultivated.


Saritaea magnifica

Native to Colombia and Ecuador.



Fourteen species cultivated.


Tecomanthe dendrophila

Indigenous from Indonesia to the Solomon Islands.


Tecomella undulata

Indigenous from Arabia to Pakistan.


Tourrettia lappacea (Güisquilillo)

Indigenous from Mexico to Argentina.



  • Diniz, M.A. 1988. Bignoniaceae. Flora zambesiaca 124.

  • Diniz, M.A. 1990. Bignoniaceae. Flora de Moçambique 120: 1–35.

  • Diniz, M.A. 1993. Bignoniaceae. Conspectus Florae Angolensis 122: 1–31.

  • Goldblatt, P. & Gentry, A.H. 1979. Cytology of Bignoniaceae. Botaniska Notiser 132: 475–482.

  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated Plants of Southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Smithies, S.J. 2000. Bignoniaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 175-178. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.