Launaea rarifolia (Oliv. & Hiern) Boulos
var. rarifolia

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Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia

Picture: Bart Wursten
Cleveland Dam, Harare

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Synonyms: Lactuca varianii I.M. Johnst.
Lactuca verdickii De Wild.
Lactuca welwitschii Scott-Eliott
Launaea macer (S. Moore) L. Boulos
Launaea verdickii (De Wild.) L. Boulos
Sonchus macer S. Moore
Sonchus rarifolius Oliv. & Hiern
Sonchus verdickii (De Wild.) R.E. Fr.
Sonchus violaceus sensu Eyles
Sonchus welwitschii (Scott-Elliot) Chiov. ex S. Moore
Common names:
Status: Native
Perennial up to 95 cm tall but often only up to 15 cm when flowering after fires. Taproot fleshy to semi-woody; stems fleshy, often blue-green, with milky sap. Leaves in a basal rosette, mostly appearing after the flowers, narrowly obovate or oblanceolate-spathulate, up to c. 25 cm long, blueish-green, hairless; margin entire, finely toothed or sometimes with small lobes. Flowering stems wiry, often purple-tinged, diffusely branched, often very much reduced. Capitula few-many with purple-tinged involucre bracts. Florets 6-12 per capitulum in one whorl of all ray-florets, yellow.
Type location:
Syntypes from Malawi and Nigeria
Notes: Often very low-growing and leafless when flowering soon after fires. It is easily distinguished from the related Launaea nana by the smaller number of ligulate florets (5-10 per capitulum), each tipped with 5 teeth. The basal rosette of leaves is normally absent at the time of flowering.
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: In grassland and miombo woodland. A typical early flowering species of burnt areas.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:Aug - Sep
Worldwide distribution: Widespread in Subsaharan Africa and Madagascar.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): B,N,W,C,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Cb,N,E,Lk,S,W
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 101. (Includes a picture).

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 24.

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 26.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 31. as Launaea rarifolia

Pope, G.V. (1992). Compositae Flora Zambesiaca 6(1) Pages 215 - 217.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 35.

Van Wyk, B. & Malan, S. (1988). Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria Region Struik, Cape Town Pages 118 - 119. as Launaea rarifolia (Includes a picture).

Wursten, B., Timberlake, J. & Darbyshire, I. (2017). The Chimanimani Mountains: an updated checklist. Kirkia 19(1) Page 89.

Other sources of information about Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia
Flora of Malawi: Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia
Flora of Mozambique: Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia
Flora of Zimbabwe: Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Launaea rarifolia
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Launaea rarifolia
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Launaea rarifolia
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Launaea rarifolia
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Launaea rarifolia
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Launaea rarifolia
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Launaea rarifolia
iNaturalist: Launaea rarifolia
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Launaea rarifolia
JSTOR Plant Science: Launaea rarifolia
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Launaea rarifolia
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Launaea rarifolia
Plants of the World Online: Launaea rarifolia
Tropicos: Launaea rarifolia
Wikipedia: Launaea rarifolia

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-21

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2021). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Launaea rarifolia var. rarifolia., retrieved 25 October 2021

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