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Brachystephanus africanus

When this brightly-coloured, forest floor herb was found by a Kew-led team on Namuli Mountain, it was the first time Brachystephanus africanus had been recorded from Mozambique.
Brachystephanus africanus flower

Brachystephanus africanus photographed on Mabu Mountain.

Species information

Scientific name: 

Brachystephanus africanus S.Moore

Conservation status: 

Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Understorey in tropical forests.

Key Uses: 

None recorded.

Known hazards: 

None recorded.


Genus: Brachystephanus

About this species

Brachystephanus africanus has long been known to occur in central and eastern Africa, and in Madagascar, but in 2008 Stephen Mphamba collected the first specimen of this species in Mozambique during Kew-led fieldwork on Namuli Mountain. Since then it has also been collected on the nearby Mabu Mountain (also in Mozambique).

There are currently three recognised varieties: B. africanus var. africanus (only found in tropical forest on mountains and the variety that occurs in Mozambique), B. africanus var. recurvatus (found on mountains in the Democratic Republic of Congo), and B. africanus var. madagascariensis (found in Madagascar).

The Madagascan sub-group is clearly geographically separated from the other sub-groups, while the ranges of the East African and Congolese subgroups overlap geographically. As the structural differences seen in the plants are not significantly greater between the subgroups that geographically overlap compared to those that are separated, the decision was made to classify the three different subgroups as varieties.


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