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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Rhamnaceae (buckthorn, phylica 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 > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Rosales 

There are about 58 genera and 900 species worldwide (mainly tropical and subtropical countries), of which nine genera and 161 are native to southern Africa, one species in naturalised, and a further eight genera and 24 species are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

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


Twelve species, two of which are native to southern Africa.


Two species: Colubrina asiatica (recorded from Mozambique) and Colubrina nicholsonii, which is found in three localised populations in Pondoland (Eastern Cape). Two of the populations are in the Mkambati Game Reserve and the third population is in riverine forest along the Mpunzaana River.



Six species worldwide (Madagascar and Africa through to India), three of which are native to southern Africa.


Twelve species, found in Africa and Madagascar, of which three occur in southern Africa.


Single species: Noltea africana (Soap shiny-leaf, Soap dogwood), native to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.



About 188 species worldwide (mainly southern Africa, but also Madagascar and Tristan da Cunha), 142 of which are native to southern Africa (mainly in fynbos in the Western Cape).


About 125 species worldwide (cosmopolitan); two species, Rhamnus prinoides and Rhamnus staddo, are native southern Africa and a further three species are cultivated in the region.



Three species worldwide (tropical regions), one of which, Scutia myrtina (Cat-thorn), is native to southern Africa.


About 86 species worldwide (mainly E Asia and East Indies); five species are native to southern Africa, one is naturalised and a further two species are cultivated in the region.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). The species is listed if it is the only representative of the genus in southern Africa.

Paliurus spina-christi (Christ's thorn)

Native from Europe to China.


Maesopsis eminii (Musizi)

Native to tropical Africa.


Hovenia dulcis (Japanese raisin tree)

Native to east Asia.



About 50-60 species (North America, mainly California); 12 species and three hybrids are cultivated in southern Africa.


Alphitonia excelsa (Red ash, Soap tree)

Native to eastern Australia.


Pomaderris apetala

Native to southeastern Australia and New Zealand.


Colletia paradoxa (Curro, Cruzeiro, Quina)

Native from Brazil to Argentina.


Gouania longispicata

Native to tropical Africa.


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