Note 3: Comparison of the genera Allophylus and Searsia by Mark Hyde and edited by Meg Coates Palgrave

Allophylus species and species of Searsia both have 3-foliolate leaves and look superficially similar. The following are some notes which may help to separate species of Allophylus from Searsia.


Firstly, species of Allophylus have toothed leaflets and so confusion is only possible with those species of Searsia which are toothed.

An important feature of Allophylus is that the lateral veins always go all the way to the margin while in Searsia they curl around or fade out before the margin. The underside of the leaves is minutely glandular in Allophylus, eglandular in Searsia.

Species of Searsia have resin canals visible between the base of the leaflet and the petiole, often exuding a drop of liquid when parted and this is what give the characteristic smell.

In flower, Allophylus can be separated by having petals and sepals in 4s (usually in 5s in Searsia) and in fruit by the ┬▒spherical fruits (usually flattened in Searsia).

In leaf, Allophylus can often be separated by the domatia which are never present in Searsia. Unfortunately, they are not always present in Allophylus either.

[The original note by Mark Hyde was revised with input from Meg Coates Palgrave on 18 April 2020]

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-20

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2020). Flora of Zimbabwe: Note 3: Comparison of the genera Allophylus and Searsia by Mark Hyde and edited .
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/note-display.php?note_id=3, retrieved 7 August 2020

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