Harpachne schimperi Hochst. ex A. Rich.

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Harpachne schimperi

Photo: Bart Wursten
Mukuvisi Woodland, office area

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Common names:
Frequency: Locally common in the S and SE suburbs of Harare
Status: Introduced
Densely caespitose perennial; culms up to 60 cm tall, erect or ascending from a procumbent base, simple or branched at the lower nodes, wiry; leaf laminas 3–20 cm × 1–4 mm, flat or convolute, tapering to a fine point.Inflorescence 3–8(10) cm long, oblong, the spikelets densely crowded; pedicels 2–4 mm long, villous, usually unbranched but the lowermost occasionally carrying 2 spikelets.Spikelets 10–14(17) mm long, 6–13-flowered, cuneate, the florets loosely imbricate with the slender sinuous rhachilla often visible, pale green tinged with purple; glumes linear-oblong, subacute, the inferior 1.6–2 mm long, the superior 2.8–3.5 mm long; lowermost lemma (3)3.2–3.5 mm long, lanceolate in profile, acute, successive lemmas becoming progressively narrower and more sharply pointed, the longest 4–6.8 mm long, thinly membranous or sometimes cartilaginous in the lower third.
Notes: First recorded at Harare airport and northwards on the Airport Rd towards Harare on 17 May 1990. A search for the species in the southernmost suburbs of Harare two days later revealed a number of further ocurrences of this species. Subsequently, Laegaard discovered the species at Dunhiku School in 1991 and it has since been seen at the adjacent Cleveland Dam. Further records exist from the Mukuvisi Woodlands and from the Tobacco Research Station, Kutsaga, which is very close to the airport. In my opinion, the species is an introduction, possibly via the airport, and is now locally abundant in the S and SE parts of Harare.Interestingly, it is an alien from another part of Africa.
Derivation of specific name: schimperi: named after Wilhelm Schimper, explorer and collector, particularly in Ethiopia.
Habitat: Sandy roadside verges, disturbed places, old lands and, less often, in woodland.
Altitude range: (metres) 1440 - 1540 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: NE and East Africa from Sudan southwards to Zimbabwe, Zambia, also in Arabia
Zimbabwe distribution: C
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Cope, T.A. (1999). Poaceae Flora Zambesiaca 10(2) Pages 153 - 154. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 105.

Other sources of information about Harpachne schimperi:

Our websites:

Flora of Zambia: Harpachne schimperi

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Harpachne schimperi
African Plant Database: Harpachne schimperi
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Harpachne schimperi
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Harpachne schimperi
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Harpachne schimperi
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Harpachne schimperi
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Harpachne schimperi
JSTOR Plant Science: Harpachne schimperi
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Harpachne schimperi
Plants of the World Online: Harpachne schimperi
Tropicos: Harpachne schimperi
Wikipedia: Harpachne schimperi

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Harpachne schimperi.
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=105330, retrieved 9 December 2023

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