4594.010 Searsia F.A. Barkley

RHUS L. p.p.

Moffett, R.O. (2007) Name changes in the Old World Rhus and recognition of Searsia (Anacardiaceae) Bothalia 37(2) 165-175

Description of the genus

Trees, shrubs or suffrutices. Leaves alternate, 3-foliolate. Panicles terminal, axillary or both. Flowers unisexual, rarely bisexual, very small (calyx segments usually less than 1 mm, petals usually less than 2 mm). Male flowers: calyx (4-)5(-6)-partite; petals (4-)5(-6), white, green or yellow; stamens 5; pistillode usually 0. Female flowers: calyx and petals similar to male; staminodes frequently present; ovary usually 1-locular. Styles 3. Fruit a spherical or ovoid and flattened drupe, frequently asymmetrical. Seeds ovoid or reniform, flattened.

Derivation of name: after Paul B. Sears, 1891-1990, who was a renowned stratigraphic palaeontologist, ecologist and head of the Yale School of Botany

Comment: Recent phylogenetic analyses of the Rhus complex using DNA and gene spacers have shown that the genus Searsia is clearly monophyletic and widely separated from Rhus sensu stricto. A further distinction is that Searsia is confined to the Old World (the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia) and Rhus sensu stricto is a New World genus.

Furthermore, with their pinnately compound leaves, drupes with prominent red glandular hairs and resinous mesocarp, the species of Rhus differ from the species of Searsia, which are characterized by ternate, rarely simple or palmate leaves and pale, glabrous or tomentose, drupes with a resinous mesocarp adhering to the bony endocarp.

Searsia is a common genus in the flora area and by no means always an easy one to name. Species of Searsia with toothed leaflets can easily be confused with species of Allophylus. See note 3 for a discussion of the differences.

Worldwide: c. 110 species in the Old World, specifically the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia

Malawi: 10 taxa.

The larvae of the following species of insect eat species of this genus:
Bombycomorpha bifascia (Pale eggarlet, Pepper-tree moth)
Cirina forda (Emperor moth)
Comostilopsis stillata (Pink-laced Emerald)
Eagris sabadius
Rhodogastria amasis (Tri-coloured tiger)
Rhodometra sacraria (Vestal)
No image yet

Links to taxa:     View: living plant images - herbarium specimen images - all images for this genus

SpeciesFZ divisionsContent
acuminatissima (R. Fern. & A. Fern.) Moffett[NrEnd]S
anchietae (Ficalho & Hiern ex Hiern) MoffettN
leptodictya (Diels) T.S. Yi, A.J. Mill. & J.WenCDescription, Image
longipes (Engl.) Moffett var. longipes N,C,SDescription, Image
monticola (Meikle) Moffett[End]S
natalensis (Bernh. ex C. Krauss) F.A. BarkleyC,SDescription, Image
ochracea (Meikle) Moffett var. ochracea N
pyroides (Burch.) Moffett var. gracilis (Engl.) MoffettCDescription, Image
pyroides (Burch.) Moffett var. pyroides
tenuinervis (Engl.) MoffettC,SDescription, Image

Other sources of information about Searsia:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Searsia
Flora of Caprivi: Searsia
Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Searsia
Flora of Mozambique: Searsia
Flora of Zambia: Searsia
Flora of Zimbabwe: Searsia
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Searsia

External websites:

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

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-24

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2024). Flora of Malawi: Genus page: Searsia.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/genus.php?genus_id=883, retrieved 18 June 2024

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