Sphenostylis erecta (Baker f.) Hutch. ex Baker f.
subsp. erecta

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Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cleveland Dam, Harare

Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cleveland Dam, Harare

Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cleveland Dam, Harare

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Synonyms: Dolichos erectus Baker f.
Sphenostylis homblei De Wild.
Sphenostylis marginata E. Mey. subsp. erecta (Baker f.) Verdc.
Common names: The African yam bean (English)
Status: Native
Erect perennial subshrub, growing from a woody rootstock, producing a red sap. Stems hairless or finely pubescent when young. Leaves 3-foliolate with leaflets ovate, elliptic, oblong or ovate-lanceolate, 2.5–12 cm long, distinctly acuminate at the apex, hairless or sparsely pubescent; petiole 1.5–12 cm long; rhachis 0.6–4 cm long; petiolules 1–4 mm long; stipules oblong-lanceolate to ovate, 1.1–6 mm long. Inflorescences in dense few-flowered heads on a peduncle 5.5–30 cm long, often appearing when the plant is almost leafless. Calyx hairless with tube 3–5 mm long; lobes short and rounded, 1.5–3 mm long. Standard yellow inside, flushed brownish, greenish or maroon outside, emarginate; wings yellow; keel pale yellow. Pods 7–12 cm long, margined, hairless or with minute dot-like scales.
Notes: S. erecta subsp. obtusifolia is distinguished by being a trailing, climbing or creeping herb, sometimes forming mats. It also has broader leaflets which are mucronate or only shortly acuminate.This species has been domesticated as a food source in West Africa but is not widely used elsewhere on the continent.
Derivation of specific name: erecta: erect
Habitat: In open woodland and grassland, often appearing after fires
Altitude range: 500 - 1800 m
Flowering time:Jul - Sep
Worldwide distribution: Angola, Burundi, DRC, CAR, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Malawi distribution: N,C,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Baumann, G. (2005). Photographic Guide to Wildflowers of Malawi Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Pages 44 - 45. as Sphenostylis marginata erecta (Includes a picture).

Coates Palgrave, M. (1989). Guide to the trees and shrubs of the Mukuvisi Woodlands ?publisher. Page 38. as Sphenostylis marginata

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 72. as Sphenostylis marginata subsp. erecta and S. erecta

Drummond, R.B. (1972). A list of Rhodesian Legumes. Kirkia 8(2) Page 227. As: Sphenostylis marginata erecta

Mackinder, B. et al. (2001). Papilionoideae Flora Zambesiaca 3(5) Pages 69 - 70.

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 51.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 65. as Sphenostylis marginata subsp. erecta

Other sources of information about Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta
Flora of Mozambique: Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta
Flora of Zambia: Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta
Flora of Zimbabwe: Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta

External websites:

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

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: Species information: Sphenostylis erecta subsp. erecta.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=132410, retrieved 15 July 2024

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