Commiphora mollis (Oliv.) Engl.

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Commiphora mollis

Lusaka 1976
Drawing: Patricia Bingham

Commiphora mollis

Lusaka 1976
Drawing: Patricia Bingham

Commiphora mollis

Lusaka 1976
Drawing: Patricia Bingham

Commiphora mollis

Lusaka 1976
Drawing: Patricia Bingham

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

Synonyms: Balsamodendrum molle Oliv.
Commiphora welwitschii Engl.
Common names:
Status: Native
Small to medium-sized unarmed tree. Bark grey to brown, smooth or flaking in rather thick discs; watery to milky sap present; older trees often fluted. Leaves alternate, imparipinnate with 2-6 pairs leaflets and a terminal leaflet; leaflets elliptic, up to 6 × 3 cm, lower pairs often smaller, greyish-green, shortly hairy, paler and more densely hairy below; margin entire. Flowers in small axillary clusters, yellowish to pinkish, appearing before or with the new leaves. Fruit almost round, c. 1 cm in diameter, red when ripe, densely hairy, splitting to reveal a black seed with a 4-lobed bright red pseudo-aril.
Type location:
Derivation of specific name: mollis: soft
Habitat: In hot and dry woodland, often on rocky outcrops.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:Oct - Nov
Worldwide distribution: Angola, Botswana, DRC, Namibia, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and northern South Africa.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): B,W,C,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,C,Lk,S,W
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Palasea albimacula (Larval foodplant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Thursday 5 January 2017

Burrows, J.E., Burrows, S.M., Lötter, M.C. & Schmidt, E. (2018). Trees and Shrubs Mozambique Publishing Print Matters (Pty), Cape Town. Page 372. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 10.

Coates Palgrave, K. (revised and updated by Meg Coates Palgrave) (2002). Trees of Southern Africa 3rd edition. Struik, South Africa Page 435.

Curtis, B.A. & Mannheimer, C.A. (2005). Tree Atlas of Namibia National Botanic Research Institute, Windhoek Pages 288 - 289. (Includes a picture).

Drummond, R.B. (1975). A list of trees, shrubs and woody climbers indigenous or naturalised in Rhodesia. Kirkia 10(1) Page 249.

Golding, J.S. (ed.) (2002). Namibia Plant Red Data List. Southern African Plant Red Data Lists. SABONET 14 Page 77.

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 31.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 37.

Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. & McCleland, W. (2002). Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park Jacana, Johannesburg, South Africa Pages 246 - 247. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 42.

Setshogo, M.P. & Venter, F. (2003). Trees of Botswana: names and distribution SABONET Report No. 18 Southern African Botanical Diversity Network, Pretoria Page 38.

Steedman, E.C. (1933). Some Trees, Shrubs and Lianes of Southern Rhodesia. Page 31. as Commiphora sp. nr. mollis

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 63.

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. (1997). Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa. Struik, South Africa Pages 448 - 449. (Includes a picture).

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. (2013). Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa (Second edition) Struik, South Africa Pages 522 - 523. (Includes a picture).

Wild, H. (1963). Burseraceae Flora Zambesiaca 2(1) Pages 272 - 273. (Includes a picture).

Other sources of information about Commiphora mollis:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Commiphora mollis
Flora of Caprivi: Commiphora mollis
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Commiphora mollis
Flora of Malawi: Commiphora mollis
Flora of Mozambique: Commiphora mollis
Flora of Zimbabwe: Commiphora mollis
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Commiphora mollis

External websites:

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

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: Commiphora mollis., retrieved 16 June 2024

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