Siphonochilus kirkii (Hook. f.) B.L. Burtt

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Siphonochilus kirkii

Dambo near Chipata; Feb 1970.
Photo: Doug Laing

Siphonochilus kirkii

Lusaka, cultivated from wild; Nov 2009.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Siphonochilus kirkii

Lusaka, cultivated from the wild; Nov 2008.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Siphonochilus kirkii

Nchendeni Hills; Dec 2004.
Photo: Mike Bingham

Siphonochilus kirkii

Feb 1970.
Photo: Doug Laing

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

Synonyms: Kaempferia carsonii Baker
Kaempferia kirkii (Hook.f.) Wittm. & Perring
Kaempferia rosea Baker
Siphonochilus carsonii (Baker) Lock
Siphonochilus decorus (Druten) Lock
Common names:
Frequency: Occasional
Status: Native
Perennial herb from a short thick rhizome, frequently occurring in colonies (or clones?). Flowers borne on an elongated peduncle. Leaves fully or partially developed at time of flowering. Leaf blade broadly elliptic, 2-5 times as long as broad; very short or absent, the leaf bases tapering to a long false petiole; ligule absent. Labellum either pink or mauve, with various colour patterns towards the base, or pure yellow.
Type location:
Tanzanian coast
Notes: Yellow-flowered plants were formerly regarded as a separate species under the name Siphonochilus decorus (Druten) B.L. Burtt. Recent genetic research established this is merely a colour form and the two forms are now considered conspecific with the name S. decorus as a synonym.
Derivation of specific name: kirkii: named after Dr John Kirk, who accompanied David Livingstone on his Zambezi expedition of 1858
Habitat: In Zambia the pink flowered forms occur in Kalahari and mopane woodland, on floodplain termite mounds and on dolomitic soils, mostly below 1000 m. The yellow flowered forms occur on steep sided termite mounds or in rocky terrain, at altitudes above 1000 m
Altitude range: Up to 1200 m
Flowering time:Nov - Jan
Worldwide distribution: Sudan, D.R. Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and the Caprivi.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): B,C,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,Cb,E,C,Lk,S,W
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Physcaeneura pione (Food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Wednesday 19 November 2014

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 240 - 241. (Includes a picture).

Bolnick, D. (2007). A Guide to the Common Wild Flowers of Zambia and Neighbouring Regions Revised Edition. WECS, Lusaka, Zambia

Chapano, C. & Mamuto, M. (2003). Plants of the Chimanimani District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 51.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 142.

Lock, J.M. (2010). Zingiberaceae Flora Zambesiaca 13(4) Pages 125 - 127. (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. Also as S. carsonii and S. decorus

Moriarty, A. (1975). Wild Flowers of Malawi Purnell & sons Cape Town. Pages 35 - 36. as Kaempferia rosea (Includes a picture).

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32

Pickering, H. & Roe, E. (2009). Wild Flowers of the Victoria Falls Area Helen Pickering, London Page 115. (Includes a picture).

Plowes, D.C.H. & Drummond, R.B. (1990). Wild Flowers of Zimbabwe. Revised edition. Longman, Zimbabwe. No. 28, plate 47 & 48

Other sources of information about Siphonochilus kirkii:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: Siphonochilus kirkii
Flora of Malawi: Siphonochilus kirkii
Flora of Mozambique: Siphonochilus kirkii
Flora of Zimbabwe: Siphonochilus kirkii

External websites:

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

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: Siphonochilus kirkii., retrieved 19 April 2024

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