Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze

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Tacca leontopetaloides

Grassland; cultivated Lilayi
The tubers are roundish to discoid in shape with no easily discernible growing point
May 2015
Photo: Nick Wightman

Tacca leontopetaloides

Open Woodland
Chisomo Farms
Feb 2007
Photo: Nick Wightman

Tacca leontopetaloides

Open Woodland
Chisomo Farms
Feb 2007
Photo: Nick Wightman

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

Synonyms: Tacca involucrata Schumach. & Thonn.
Common names:
Status: Native
Erect herb up to 2 m tall, with annual leaves and flowers growing from a fleshy tuber. Leaves usually 1-3; petiole erect up to c. 1.5 m tall; lamina compound, up to c. 90 × 60 cm, broadly 3-lobed, the lobes deeply pinnately and sometimes palmately divided into variable secondary lobes. Inflorescence usually 1, rarely 2 on an erect hollow scape, up to 1.7 m tall. Flowers 10-40 in an umbel, pale green to white, yellowish or brown, usually variably tinged purple. The whole inflorescence subtended by an involucre of 4-8 bract up to c. 4 × 3 cm, green with purple margins and numerous more or less pendent floral bracts, filiform, dark purple, up to 25 cm long. Fruit berry-like, globose to ovoid, 2-3 cm long, pendent, green to orange, dark brown when dry, normally only 2-7 flowers per umbel developing fruit.
Type location:
Notes: A unique and unmistakable plant
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: In a wide range of habitats, on termite mounds, in rocky places, on sand dunes and beaches, often on sandy soils.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:Dec - Jan
Worldwide distribution: Widespread in Subsaharan Africa from Senegal to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Also in Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles and tropical Asia to the Pacific.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): N,W,C,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): E,Lk,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Tuesday 23 February 2016

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 186 - 187. (Includes a picture).

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 112.

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 179.

Wilkin, P. (2009). Dioscoreaceae Flora Zambesiaca 12(2) Pages 138 - 140. in Dioscoreaceae (Includes a picture).

Other sources of information about Tacca leontopetaloides:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Tacca leontopetaloides
Flora of Malawi: Tacca leontopetaloides
Flora of Mozambique: Tacca leontopetaloides
Flora of Zimbabwe: Tacca leontopetaloides

External websites:

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

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-24

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2024). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Tacca leontopetaloides.
https://www.zambiaflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=115350, retrieved 27 February 2024

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