Phyllanthus ovalifolius Forssk.

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Phyllanthus ovalifolius

Photo: Mark Hyde
National Botanic Garden, Harare

Phyllanthus ovalifolius

Photo: Mark Hyde
National Botanic Garden, Harare

Phyllanthus ovalifolius

Photo: Mark Hyde
National Botanic Garden, Harare

Phyllanthus ovalifolius

Photo: Mark Hyde
National Botanic Garden, Harare

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Phyllanthus guineensis Pax
Common names: Small-fruited potato bush (English)
Frequency: Local
Status: Native and introduced
Usually a much-branched scrambling shrub, rarely a small tree. Leaves obovate to elliptic-oblong, produced on short lateral branchlets, giving the impression of compound leaves. Flowers in clusters on short axillary branchlets, small, yellowish-green, sexes separate on the same plant, flowering before the new leaves. Female flowers solitary along very thin branchlets appearing as racemes. Fruit berry-like, 3-4 mm, red to purple-black when ripe.
Notes: FZ 9(4) implies that this is a native species in divisions E and S. However, in division C, it is well-naturalised in the Botanic Gardens and in the neighbouring grounds of St George's College, probably an escape originally from the Botanic Gardens. See Note 1 for further information.
Derivation of specific name: ovalifolius: with oval (elliptic) leaves
Habitat: In high rainfall woodland and forest
Altitude range: (metres) 780 - 1950 m
Flowering time:Mainly Oct - Nov
Worldwide distribution: Tropical Africa and Yemen
Zimbabwe distribution: C,E,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Wednesday 8 February 2017

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 417. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 44.

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. As Phyllanthus guineensis

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 251. As Phyllanthus guineensis

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 42.

Radcliffe-Smith, A. (1996). Euphorbiaceae Flora Zambesiaca 9(4) Pages 42 - 43.

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Pages 88 - 89.

Other sources of information about Phyllanthus ovalifolius:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Phyllanthus ovalifolius
Flora of Malawi: Phyllanthus ovalifolius
Flora of Mozambique: Phyllanthus ovalifolius
Flora of Zambia: Phyllanthus ovalifolius

External websites:

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

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Phyllanthus ovalifolius., retrieved 19 May 2024

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