Psychotria spithamea S. Moore

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Psychotria spithamea

Upland hill miombo woodland
Mafinga Mountains, Mafinga District
Jan 2022
Photo: Nick Wightman

Psychotria spithamea

Upland hill miombo woodland
Mafinga Mountains, Mafinga District
Jan 2022
Photo: Nick Wightman

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Common names:
Frequency: Occasional
Status: Native
Subshrub with several stems 10–50 cm. tall from a mostly creeping woody rhizome; stems usually only leafy at the upper nodes, glabrous to densely pubescent, often becoming covered with soft corky bark. Leaf blades 3–22 x 0.6–5.4 cm., narrowly elliptic to elliptic but variable and sometimes obovate, elliptic-ovate or linear-oblong, rounded to acute at the apex, narrowly cuneate at the base, glabrous to pubescent above and beneath, mostly distinctly paler beneath and sometimes whitish; domatia absent; nodules mostly numerous, scattered in the lamina and often not easy to see; petiole 0.3–2 cm. long, glabrous or pubescent; stipules 3–8 mm. long, ovate-triangular, entire at the apex or bifid for almost 1 mm., either thin and soon deciduous or thick and woody and ± persistent. Flowers heterostylous, 5-merous, in usually ± dense slightly branched inflorescences 1.5–5 cm. long; peduncle 0.5–3 cm. long, pubescent or glabrescent often bent ± at right angles; secondary branches 0.3–1.3 cm. long, similarly hairy; pedicels 1–2 mm. long, attaining 5 mm. in fruit, glabrous or pubescent; bracts small, filiform, ± 3 mm. long. Calyx tube ± 1 mm. long, subglobose, glabrous or pubescent; limb 0.75–1.5 mm. tall, cupuliform, usually glabrous, more rarely densely hairy; lobes unequal, 1–2 mm. long, mostly triangular-lanceolate, usually ± ciliate on the margins, or rarely lobes obsolete.Corolla white or cream, glabrous outside; tube 3–5 mm. long; lobes 2.5–3.5 x 0.8 mm., narrowly oblong. Drupes red, 3.5–6 x 7–10 mm., didymously biglobose, glabrous or pubescent, sometimes with only 1 pyrene due to abortion; pyrenes 5 x 4 x 4 mm. subglobose. Seeds subglobose, ventral surface with a deep Y- or V-shaped fissure and, save for the area of the junction of the 2 pyrenes, having a spherical air space between the hard outer layers and the albumen, which is not otherwise ruminate.
Type location:
Derivation of specific name: spithamea: a span, long or high
Habitat: Brachystegia-Uapaca-Julbernardia and similar woodland, Parinari thicket, sometimes also in grassland, often on rocky, granite or quartzite areas
Altitude range: 560 - 1860 m
Flowering time:Nov - Jan
Worldwide distribution: Angola through DRC (Katanga), Burundi and Tanzania south to Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): N,W,C,E,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,N,E,C,Lk,S
Growth form(s): Shrub under 2 m.
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Saturday 29 July 2023

Burrows, J.E. & Willis, C.K. (eds) (2005). Plants of the Nyika Plateau Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 31 SABONET, Pretoria Page 251. (Includes a picture).

Verdcourt, B. (1988). Rubiaceae, Part 1 Flora Zambesiaca 5(1) Pages 30 - 31.

Other sources of information about Psychotria spithamea:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Psychotria spithamea
Flora of Malawi: Psychotria spithamea
Flora of Mozambique: Psychotria spithamea

External websites:

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

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: Psychotria spithamea., retrieved 13 April 2024

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