home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Malpighiaceae

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: Malpighiales

Sixty-eight genera and 1250 species worldwide (tropics and subtropics, mainly America), with four genera and 10 species native to southern Africa. An additional six genera and seven species are cultivated in the region.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Archer (2000).


About 30 species (tropical and subtropical Africa, plus a single species in Madagascar and another species in New Caledonia); one species, Acridocarpus natalitius, native to southern Africa.



Three species, distributed in the African tropics, with one Caucanthus auriculatus occurring in southern Africa (Zimbabwe and Mozambique).



Twelve species (tropical and subtropical Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius), with two species, Sphedamnocarpus galphimiifolius and Sphedamnocarpus pruriens [= Sphedamnocarpus angolensis], native to southern Africa.


This is an African genus of about 12 species, with six native to southern Africa.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). Species is listed for genera with only one species represented in the region.


Galphimia glauca (= Thryallis glauca) from Brazil and Galphimia gracilis from Mexico are cultivated in southern Africa as garden ornamental shrubs.

Heteropteris chrysophylla

Native from Bolivia to Brazil.


Malpighia glabra (Barbados cherry, Acerola)

[= Malpighia punicifolia]

The Barbados cherry or Acerola Malpighia (= ) is native from Mexico to South America and is cultivated for its fruit in southern Africa. The fruit is high in vitamin C and is used in jams and syrups.


Peixotoa glabra

Native to Brazil.


Schwannia elegans

Native from Paraguay to Brazil


Stigmaphyllon ciliatum

Native to Trinidad and Uruguay and cultivated as a garden ornamental.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Archer, R.H. 2000. Malpighiaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 346. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.