Vernonia amygdalina Delile

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Vernonia amygdalina

Photo: Bart Wursten
Greystone Park NR

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Synonyms: Gymnanthemum amygdalinum (Delile) Sch. Bip. ex Walp.
Vernonia randii S. Moore
Common names: Bitter-tea vernonia (English) Dembezeko (Shona) Inyathelo (Ndebele) Musikavakadzi (Shona) Muzhozho (Shona) Nyareru (Shona) Tree vernonia (English)
Frequency: Common
Status: Native
Shrub or small tree. The leaves are lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, usually about 4 times as long as wide, glabrous or with sparse hairs; petiole short, up to 2 cm; net-veining conspicuous; margin entire or finely toothed. Capitula forming clusters up to 15 cm, creamy white, occasionally tinged with mauve; sweetly scented, particularly at night. The small fruits have both small glands and hairs as well as a pappus of bristly hairs.
Notes: Very similar to Vernonia colorata. The only reliable way to separate these two species is to examine the achenes (this also works with the ovaries when the plants are in flower) with a lens. If papillae only are present on the body of the achene, it is V. colorata; if both papillae and hairs are present, then it is V. amygdalina. V. colorata appears to be a plant of generally drier areas at lower altitudes whereas V. amygdalina occurs in higher rainfall areas at higher altitudes.
Derivation of specific name: amygdalina: with leaves like an almond, the old name of which was Amygdalus.
Habitat: In open woodland, riverine fringes and in grassland near water.
Altitude range: (metres) Up to 1700 m
Flowering time:May - Sep
Worldwide distribution: South America, tropical Africa and Yemen.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,W,C,E,S
Growth form(s): Tree, shrub over 2 m.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Estigmene linea (Food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 109.

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 1030. (Includes a picture).

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 277.

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 29.

Pope, G.V. (1992). Compositae Flora Zambesiaca 6(1) Pages 70 - 71. (Includes a picture).

Roodt, V. (1998). Trees and Shrubs of the Okavango Delta Shell Field Guide Series: Part I Shell Oil Botswana, Gaberone. Pages 54 - 55. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 39.

Steedman, E.C. (1933). Some Trees, Shrubs and Lianes of Southern Rhodesia. Page 84. As Vernonia randii (Includes a picture).

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 200.

Other sources of information about Vernonia amygdalina:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Vernonia amygdalina
Flora of Caprivi: Vernonia amygdalina
Flora of Malawi: Vernonia amygdalina
Flora of Mozambique: Vernonia amygdalina
Flora of Zambia: Vernonia amygdalina

External websites:

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

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: Vernonia amygdalina., retrieved 15 June 2024

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