Gomphocarpus physocarpus E. Mey.

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Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cecil Kop, Mutare

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cecil Kop, Mutare

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cecil Kop, Mutare

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

Synonyms: Asclepias physocarpa (E. Mey.) Schltr.
Common names: Balloon cotton bush (English) Hairy balls (English) Milkweed (English)
Status: Probably introduced
Robust perennial herb, up to 2.5 m tall. Stems usually single, branching near the top, upper parts with spreading white hairs. Leaves opposite, sometimes sub-opposite or crowded near the ends of branches, narrowly oblong to lanceolate, 4-12 cm long, mostly hairless except for soft white hairs on the midrib and margins. Flowers in extra-axillary, 5-12-flowered, nodding umbels. Corolla strongly reflexed, white. Corona lobes attached 1.5 - 2 mm above the base of the staminal column, white, tinged pink, mauve or purple, laterally compressed, as tall as the column. Follicle more or less erect on a twisted pedicel, spherical to subspherical, often somewhat depressed on one side, distinctly inflated, not beaked, covered in soft bristles. See Gomphocarpus fruticosus for comparison.
Derivation of specific name: physocarpus: bladderfruit, referring to the inflated fruits
Habitat: A sometimes weedy species in grassland, mostly in disturbed areas.
Altitude range: (metres) Up to 1450 m
Flowering time:All year
Worldwide distribution: Native to South Africa, Swaziland and southern Mozambique; most likely introduced elsewhere in Africa.
Zimbabwe distribution: C
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Danaus chrysippus aegyptius (Food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Saturday 22 November 2008

Bandeira, S., Bolnick, D. & Barbosa, F. (2007). Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique Page 117. As Asclepias physocarpa (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 25.

Goyder, D.J. & Nicholas, A. (2001). A revision of Gomphocarpus R. Br. Kew Bulletin 56 Pages 788 - 790.

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 20.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 27.

Other sources of information about Gomphocarpus physocarpus:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flora of Mozambique: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flora of Zambia: Gomphocarpus physocarpus

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
African Plant Database: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
iNaturalist: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
JSTOR Plant Science: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Plants of the World Online: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
The Plant List (version 1.1): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Tropicos: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Wikipedia: Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-19

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2019). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Gomphocarpus physocarpus.
https://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=145710, retrieved 23 September 2019

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