Heteromorpha arborescens (Spreng.) Cham. & Schltdl.
var. abyssinica (A. Rich.) H. Wolff

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Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica

Photo: Bart Wursten
Castle Beacon, Vumba

Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica

Photo: Bart Wursten
Castle Beacon, Vumba

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

Synonyms: Heteromorpha trifoliata (H.L. Wendl.) Eckl. & Zeyh.
Common names:
Frequency: Common
Status: Native
Small to medium-sized, deciduous tree. Bark reddish-brown or purple-brown, smooth, peeling in papery sheets. Leaves 3-foliolate or pinnate with up to 9 leaflets arranged in a variable manner, often 2, 3 or 4 arising from the same point on the rhachis; leaflets variable, elliptic, ovate, obovate or sickle-shaped, very aromatic when crushed, apex tapering to rounded, often notched; margin entire or slightly crenate. Flowers small greenish or yellowish, in dense, rounded, compound umbels, appearing with the new leaves. Fruits flattened, 5-7 mm long, heart-shaped, longitudinally ridged splitting in 2, pale brown when dry. See var. montana for comparison.
Derivation of specific name: arborescens: becoming tree-like;
abyssinica: of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).
Habitat: A variety of wooded habitats, often on forest margins.
Altitude range: (metres)
Flowering time:Dec - Mar
Worldwide distribution: From Ethiopia, through East Tropical Africa to Eswatini and South Africa as far as Eastern Cape and Free State. Also in Yemen.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,W,C,E
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: Thursday 9 April 2020

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 61. (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 721. (Includes a picture).

Cannon, J.F.M. (1978). Apiaceae Flora Zambesiaca 4 Pages 579 - 581. As Heteromorpha trifoliata (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 31.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 20.

Coates Palgrave, K. (revised and updated by Meg Coates Palgrave) (2002). Trees of Southern Africa 3rd edition. Struik, South Africa Pages 853 - 854. (Includes a picture).

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 24.

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 28. As Heteromorpha arborescens

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 265. as Heteromorpha arborescens

Drummond, R.B. (1981). Common Trees of the Central Watershed Woodlands of Zimbabwe. Natural Resources Board, Harare. Pages 176 - 177. as Heteromorpha trifoliata (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 18.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 23.

Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. & McCleland, W. (2002). Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park Jacana, Johannesburg, South Africa Pages 490 - 491. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 24.

Setshogo, M.P. & Venter, F. (2003). Trees of Botswana: names and distribution SABONET Report No. 18 Southern African Botanical Diversity Network, Pretoria Page 29. as Heteromorpha arborescens

Steedman, E.C. (1933). Some Trees, Shrubs and Lianes of Southern Rhodesia. Page 59. as Heteromorpha arborescens

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 42.

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. (1997). Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Struik, South Africa Pages 450 - 451. as Heteromorpha trifoliata (Includes a picture).

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. (2013). Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa (Second edition) Struik, South Africa Pages 524 - 525. (Includes a picture).

White, F., Dowsett-Lemaire, F. & Chapman, J.D. (2001). Evergreen forest flora of Malawi Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Pages 578 - 579. as Heteromorpha arborescens (Includes a picture).

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 87.

Other sources of information about Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica
Flora of Malawi: Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica
Flora of Mozambique: Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica
Flora of Zambia: Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica

External websites:

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

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: Heteromorpha arborescens var. abyssinica.
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=143100, retrieved 11 December 2023

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