Photos: Paton, A.

Photos: Paton, A.; Bramley, G.


N.B. the name of the author should have an accent, however this has been removed as it corrupts the program used to create the factsheets. 

VII. Subfam. Nepetoideae (Dumort.) Luerss. (1882).

VII. 3. Tribe Ocimeae Dumort. (1829).

VII. 3. E. Subtribe Plectranthinae Endlicher (1838).


Perennial or annual, sometimes succulent, subshrubs or herbs or geoxylic herbs, usually aromatic; leaves simple, rarely bipinnate, sometimes succulent, opposite, rarely ternate, very rarely scattered; inflorescence thyrsoid, condensed or lax, with cymes sessile or pedunculate, bracteate, very rarely braceolate, 1- to many-flowered; bracts caducous or persistent, sometimes coloured at apex; bracteoles rarely present; pedicel very rarely jointed with distal part falling with calyx; calyx funnel-shaped or shortly tubular, often ventrally gibbous, straight or slightly or strongly curved, strongly 2-lipped or actinomorphic, 5-lobed (1/4 or isomorphic), lobes equal or unequal; posterior lip lanceolate to obovate, sometimes decurrent, lateral lobes rounded to lanceolate, anterior lobes lanceolate to subulate, sometimes fused for part of their length, rarely with a deep split between them, throat open, glabrous or bearded, very rarely circumscissile at base; corolla strongly two-lipped, 5-lobed (4/1), white, blue, purple or yellow, posterior lip long or short, ascending, reflexed or truncate, 4-lobed, median lobes exceeding lateral, anterior lip horizontal or sometimes finally deflexed, cucullate or concave, corolla-tube narrow, straight, variously curved or sigmoid, parallel-sided, gibbous or spurred at base, dilating distally and parallel-sided or narrowing towards throat, very rarely annulate within; stamens 4, very rarely 2, fused or free at base, held within anterior lip or exserted; stigma-lobes subulate or linear; anthers usually ± orbicular, but rarely with outer edges of locules fused in lower half to form a pouch which opens apically; disc 4-lobed with anterior lobe larger, sometimes exceeding ovaries; style bifid or rarely emarginate; nutlets, ovoid, glabrous, slightly flattened or not, mucilaginous or not.  2n = 24-48 (-84).  Three-hundred species in Old World tropics.  Used medicinally and a few species as tuber crops and for hedging. P. amboinicus (Lour.) Spreng. is widely used as a pot herb.  Treatment here is based on a synthetic approach, using similarity of several characters.  This broad generic concept is in accordance with Keng (1978) and Hedge (1998).  As a result, many traditionally recognized genera are here placed in synonymy, as they had been separated on the basis of single characters which obscure relationships and would leave Plectranthus s.s. as a ragbag of species only held together by not possessing characters of the segregate genera.  This enlarged Plectranthus may still eventually prove paraphyletic due to recognition of other genera within the Plectranthinae.


Native to:

20 Northern Africa
22 West Tropical Africa
23 West-Central Tropical Africa
24 Northeast Tropical Africa
25 East Tropical Africa
26 South Tropical Africa
27 Southern Africa
29 Western Indian Ocean
35 Arabian Peninsula
36 China
38 Eastern Asia
40 Indian Subcontinent
41 Indo-China
42 Malesia
43 Papuasia
50 Australia
60 Southwestern Pacific
62 Northwestern Pacific

Introduced to:

21 Macaronesia
51 New Zealand
61 South-Central Pacific
78 Southeastern U.S.A.
80 Central America
81 Caribbean
82 Northern South America
85 Southern South America
83 Western South America
84 Brazil

Present, but doubtfully native in:

63 North-Central Pacific


Germanea Lam., Encycl. 2: 690 (1788).

Coleus Lour., Fl. Cochinch.: 372 (1790).

Solenostemon Thonn. in C.F.Schumacher, Beskr. Guin. Pl.: 271 (1827).

Mitsa Chapel. ex Benth., Labiat. Gen. Spec.: 52 (1832).

Saccostoma Wall. ex Voigt, Hort. Suburb. Calcutt.: 449 (1845).

Majana Rumph. ex Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 523 (1891).   

Capitanya Schweinf. ex Gürke (1895). (Capitanya Schweinf. ex Penzig Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 21: 105 (1893) nom nud.).

Englerastrum Briq., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 19: 178 (1894).

Neomuellera Briq., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 19: 180 (1894).

Burnatastrum Briq. in H.G.A.Engler & K.A.E.Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. 4(3A): 358 (1897).

Symphostemon Hiern (1900).

Leocus A.Chev., J. Bot. (Morot) 22: 125 (1909).

Isodictyophorus Briq., Bull. Soc. Bot. France 61(8): 285 (1914 publ. 1917).

Briquetastrum Robyns & Lebrun, Ann. Soc. Sci. Bruxelles, Sér. B 49: 102 (1929).

Holostylon Robyns & Lebrun, Ann. Soc. Sci. Bruxelles, Sér. B 49: 103 (1929).

Perrierastrum Guillaumin, Bull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat., II, 2: 692 (1930).

Ascocarydion G.Taylor, J. Bot. 69(Suppl. 2): 162 (1931).

Neohyptis J.K.Morton, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 58: 258 (1962)., (1963).

Calchas P.V.Heath, Calyx 5: 160 (1997).


Plectranthus L' Hér., Stirp. Nov. Fasc. 4: t. 41, 42 (1788); Morton, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 58: 231-283 (1962), reg. rev.; Codd, Bothalia 11: 371-442 (1975), reg. rev.; Keng in van Steenis (ed.), Fl. Malesiana 8, 3: 382-393 (1978), reg. rev.; Forster, Austrobaileya 4: 159-186 (1994), reg. rev.; Hedge in Hedge, Clement, Paton & Phillipson, Flore de Madagascar et des Comores 175: 137-235 (1998), reg. rev.


Species found in RBG Kew living collections

1992-1534 Plectranthus N COLT 8203 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1993-3100 Plectranthus aegyptiacus Forssk. N COLT 2688 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-2722 Plectranthus albo-violaceus Gurke N BRMT 10332 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-3926 Plectranthus albo-violaceus Gurke N BRMT  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1996-2728 Plectranthus ambiguus (Bolus) Codd N UNNL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1967-41106 Plectranthus ambiguus (Bolus) Codd  CODD 8574 F TH 24 
2006-197 Plectranthus argentatus S.T.Blake  MAFA   134 02 
1999-10 Plectranthus argentatus S.T.Blake  RHSW  F JOD T3 FLOOR  :  TH 20 
1993-3101 Plectranthus argentifolius Ryding N BAIC 107 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1978-1972 Plectranthus asirensis J.R.I.Wood N WODR 2255 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1978-2841 Plectranthus asirensis J.R.I.Wood N WODR 2423 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1994-164 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews N COLT 8785 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-4346 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews N MAWS 6019  JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-4301 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A.J.Paton  BPRO 13531 F JOD T3 
1966-46302 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A.J.Paton N PICK  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1993-3102 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A.J.Paton  ABCN  F JOD T3 BENCH2
1982-5914 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A.J.Paton N THUL 4380 F JOD T3 BENCH2
1970-4296 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A.J.Paton  BPRO  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-3757 Plectranthus barbatus Andrews var. grandis (Cramer) Lukhoba & A.J.Paton N MAWS 6079 F JOD T3 FLOOR
2002-426 Plectranthus calycinus Benth.  KRST  F TH 21 
1980-2707 Plectranthus cicatricosus (Hutch.& E.A.Bruce) J.R.I.Wood N WODR 2988 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1976-1005 Plectranthus ciliatus Benth. N EDIN  F TH 22   :  TRO_N 1 
1981-1026 Plectranthus coerulescens (Gurke) R.H.Willemse N BAIC 107 F TC 3 05
2001-4136 Plectranthus comosus Sims N COLT 8956 F TC 3 05
1999-12 Plectranthus cylindraceus Hochst.ex Benth.  RHSW  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1996-2733 Plectranthus ecklonii Benth. N UNNL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
2007-1078 Plectranthus ecklonii Benth.  KRST   TRO_N 1 R11
1970-3417 Plectranthus elegans Britten N BRMT 11310 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1989-2524 Plectranthus ernstii Codd  ROWG  F TC 3 02
1999-15 Plectranthus frederici (G.Taylor)  RHSW  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1990-1148 Plectranthus fruticosus L'Her.  KRST  F TRO_N SEED 
1970-4299 Plectranthus grandis C.E.Cramer  BPRO 8087 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1999-14 Plectranthus grandis C.E.Cramer  RHSW  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-4297 Plectranthus grandis C.E.Cramer  BPRO  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1993-3571 Plectranthus habrophyllus P.I.Forst. N SMIM  F TH 10   :  TH 16 
1977-2634 Plectranthus hadiensis (Forssk.) Sprenger N WODR 1745 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1977-406 Plectranthus hadiensis (Forssk.) Sprenger N WODR 504 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-3770 Plectranthus hadiensis (Forssk.) Sprenger N MAWS  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1957-73801 Plectranthus hadiensis (Forssk.) Sprenger N LEAL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1977-1639 Plectranthus hyemalis J.R.I.Wood N WODR 1532 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1986-2530 Plectranthus lanceolatus Bojer N SAYE 4000 F TRO_N SEED 
1973-1207 Plectranthus lanuginosus Benth. N MELV  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1979-6122 Plectranthus lanuginosus Benth. N HEPF 7032 F JOD T3 FLOOR
2001-4138 Plectranthus madagascariensis Benth.  KRST  F TC 3 13
1980-3446 Plectranthus madagascariensis Benth.  KRST  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1993-1365 Plectranthus madagascariensis var. madagascariensis  KRST  F TH 22   :  TRO_N 1 
1994-163 Plectranthus montanus Benth. N COLT 8784 F JOD T3 
1996-912 Plectranthus montanus Benth. N KNOJ  F JOD T3 FLOOR
2001-4139 Plectranthus mutabilis Codd  LEID  F TC 3 03
1955-47101 Plectranthus mutabilis Codd  LEID  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1993-1364 Plectranthus neochilus Schltr.  KRST  F TRO_N SEED 
1996-2731 Plectranthus oertendahlii T.C.E.Fr. N UNNL  F JOD T3 BENCH3
1990-1149 Plectranthus oertendahlii T.C.E.Fr.  KRST  F TH 21   :  TRO_N SEED 
2001-4140 Plectranthus oertendahlii T.C.E.Fr. N UNNL  F TC 3 03
1977-2631 Plectranthus ovatus Benth. N WODR 1701 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1975-835 Plectranthus parviflorus Willd. N BULR 105 F JOD T3 
1961-66401 Plectranthus parviflorus Willd.  MCSD  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1996-2729 Plectranthus petiolaris Benth. N UNNL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1996-2732 Plectranthus petiolaris Benth. N UNNL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-4305 Plectranthus pseudomarrubioides R.H.Willemse N BPRO 13295 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1972-2774 Plectranthus pseudomarrubioides R.H.Willemse N MASN  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1970-3784 Plectranthus puberulentus J.K.Morton N MAWS 6830 F JOD T3 
1993-3264 Plectranthus puberulentus J.K.Morton N GIVO  F JOD T3 FLOOR  :  TH 20 
1970-3763 Plectranthus puberulentus J.K.Morton N MAWS 6158 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1965-31901 Plectranthus purpuratus Harv.  CLUJ  F JOD T3 BENCH2
1996-2730 Plectranthus saccatus Benth. var. saccatus N UNNL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1999-13 Plectranthus saccatus var. lonitubus  RHSW   JOD FLOOR T3
1970-2072 Plectranthus sanguineus Britten N BRMT  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1980-3450 Plectranthus spicatus E.Mey.ex Benth.  KRST  P JOD T3 
1996-2727 Plectranthus strigosus Benth. N UNNL  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1967-41108 Plectranthus strigosus Benth.  CODD  F JOD T3 
1993-3205 Plectranthus tenuiflorus (Vatke) Agnew N COLT 3169 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1981-2900 Plectranthus tenuiflorus (Vatke) Agnew N COLT 2688 F TRO_N  
2001-4303 Plectranthus thyrsoideus (Baker) B.Mathew  LONG  F JOD T3 FLOOR
1989-1322 Plectranthus xerophilus Codd N HAAD 6735 F JOD T3 FLOOR
1957-73802 Plectranthus xerophilus Codd     JOD T3 
1992-2850 Plectranthus zuluensis T.Cooke  HELE  F JOD T3 
1994-210 Plectranthus zuluensis T.Cooke  HELE  F TC 3 21
2000-3239 Plectranthus zuluensis T.Cooke  HELE  F 756 SB-E   :  WAK_N SP

Image resource

© Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew