Vernonia myriantha Hook. f.

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Vernonia myriantha

Photo: Bart Wursten
Leopard Rock Game Reserve, Vumba

Vernonia myriantha

Photo: Petra Ballings
Ndundu Lodge, Vumba

Vernonia myriantha

Photo: Petra Ballings
Ndundu Lodge, Vumba

Vernonia myriantha

Photo: Petra Ballings
Ndundu Lodge, Vumba

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Synonyms: Gymnanthemum myrianthum (Hook.f.) H. Rob.
Vernonia ampla O. Hoffm.
Vernonia podocoma Sch.Bip. ex Vatke
Vernonia stipulacea Klatt
Vernonia subuligera O. Hoffm.
Common names: Eared vernonia (English)
Frequency: Common
Status: Native
Large shrub or even small, soft wooded tree, 1.5-6 m. tall. Leaves grey-green velvety to hairy beneath, rarely becoming hairless, 10-38 cm. long; margins serrate. Capitula numerous, small, whitish, mauve to purple-pink, phyllaries ± equalling the mature achene in length, inner phyllaries falling in fruit; florets 5-15 per capitulum; achene obscurely angular and 6-8 ribbed, outer pappus of short setae, inner of fine white often long-exserted setae. Although often a "messy" shrub, it can be quite beautiful when in flower because the large inflorescences turn the whole shrub into a ball of colour varying from white to deep purple.
  1. This is an abundantly common species in the Vumba, especially in degraded areas. In the Leopard Rock Game Reserve it has become one of the most dominant pioneers in the former coffee fields (together with Dodonaea angustifolia). It became so "weedy", that at one time it was thought to be an exotic (specifically Bugweed) and, unsuccessful attempts were made to eradicate it.
  2. This indigenous species, which can be a dominating pioneer in secondary vegetation, looks superficially like Solanum mauritianum (Bugweed) as both are tall shrubs with prominent false stipules.
  3. They may be distinguished as follows:
    • Firstly, the flowers and fruit are totally different and if these are present, the species are easily distinguished.
    • When not in flower or fruit, the main differences are:
    • Solanum mauritianum leaves, petioles and small branches are densely tomentose, especially when young. This gives the whole plant a light grey green appearance whereas Vernonia myriantha is a dark green colour.
    • the leaf margins are entire in Solanum mauritianum; serrated in Vernonia myriantha
    • the hairs on Vernonia myriantha (examine with a hand lens) are simple whereas the Solanum mauritianum hairs are stellate.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: Rocky scrub and grassland.
Altitude range: (metres) 700 - 1900 m
Flowering time:Aug - Sep
Worldwide distribution: Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe; widespread in tropical Africa, extending to KwaZulu-Natal.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,W,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: Tuesday 1 February 2011

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 180 - 181. (Includes a picture).

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 111.

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 1028. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 58.

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 37.

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 29. As Vernonia stipulacea

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 278. as Vernonia stipulacea

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 82 - 85. (Includes a picture).

Shone, D.K. & Drummond, R.B. (1965). Poisonous Plants of Rhodesia Ministry of Agriculture, Rhodesia Pages 18 - 19. as Vernonia ampla (Includes a picture).

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 60.

Other sources of information about Vernonia myriantha:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Vernonia myriantha
Flora of Mozambique: Vernonia myriantha
Flora of Zambia: Vernonia myriantha

External websites:

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

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-20

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2020). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Vernonia myriantha., retrieved 2 June 2020

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