Pterolobium stellatum (Forssk.) Brenan

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Pterolobium stellatum

Photo: Bart Wursten
Nyanga rd near Mutare Junction.

Pterolobium stellatum

Photo: Bart Wursten
Nyanga rd near Mutare Junction.

Pterolobium stellatum

Photo: Mark Hyde
Bushman Point carpark, Lake Chivero

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Synonyms: Cantuffa exosa J.F. Gmel.
Pterolobium exosum (J.F. Gmel.) Baker f.
Pterolobium lacerans R. Br.
Common names: Gado (Shona) Redwing (English) Rukato (Shona) Uthathawe (Ndebele)
Frequency: Common
Status: Native
Large scrambling or climbing shrub. The woody rope-like stems bear prominent thorny projections. The stems and 2-pinnate leaves are armed with small recurved thorns. The fruit is a brilliant red samara.
Notes: The brilliance of the red fruits has meant that this species has been mistaken for a Bougainvillea from a distance. Pterolobium stellatum can be confused with Caesalpinia decapatala. However, this exotic species has very different flowers and fruits (see photos). Furthermore, its leaves and leaflets are larger (Ross in FSA Caesalpinioideae gives the following typical leaflet lengths: Pterolobium stellatum: 0.6-1.0 cm, Caesalpinia decapetala: 1-2.1 cm) and somewhat greyer than Pterolobium. P. stellatum may also be confused with spiny species of Mimosoideae and in particular species of Acacia. Acacia spp. have very different fruits, but flowers and leaves are superficially similar. In my opinion, the best way of separating the two is to examine the thorns on the underside of the leaf rhachis; these are in clusters of 3 in Pterolobium and are simple in Acacia.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: Occurring in riverine thickets and on rocky slopes.
Altitude range: (metres) 850 - 1750 m
Flowering time:Mar - Jun
Worldwide distribution:
Zimbabwe distribution: N,W,C,E,S
Growth form(s): Climber, liane.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Brummitt, R.K., Chikuni, A.C., Lock, J.M. & Polhill, R.M. (2007). Leguminosae Subfamily Caesalpinioideae Flora Zambesiaca 3(2) Pages 174 - 177. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 262. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 46.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 30.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (1989). The flora and phytogeography of the evergreen forests of Malawi. I: Afromontane and mid-altitude forests; Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 59(1/2) Page 24.

Drummond, R.B. (1972). A list of Rhodesian Legumes. Kirkia 8(2) Page 213.

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 243.

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 44.

Steedman, E.C. (1933). Some Trees, Shrubs and Lianes of Southern Rhodesia. Pages 21 - 22. as Pterolobium exosum

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 91.

Other sources of information about Pterolobium stellatum:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Pterolobium stellatum
Flora of Mozambique: Pterolobium stellatum
Flora of Zambia: Pterolobium stellatum

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Pterolobium stellatum
African Plant Database: Pterolobium stellatum
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Pterolobium stellatum
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Pterolobium stellatum
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Pterolobium stellatum
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Pterolobium stellatum
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Pterolobium stellatum
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Pterolobium stellatum
iNaturalist: Pterolobium stellatum
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Pterolobium stellatum
JSTOR Plant Science: Pterolobium stellatum
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Pterolobium stellatum
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Pterolobium stellatum
Plants of the World Online: Pterolobium stellatum
Tropicos: Pterolobium stellatum
Wikipedia: Pterolobium stellatum

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: Pterolobium stellatum., retrieved 4 February 2023

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