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Genus Plectranthus Family Lamiaceae

Description: Herbs, subshrubs or shrubs, often somewhat succulent; branches often procumbent to erect, often rooting at nodes.

Leaves opposite.

Inflorescence terminal or in the upper leaf axils; flowers in compact cymose clusters. Calyx 2-lipped; lower lip ± equally 4-lobed (with 2 lateral lobes and 1 median lobe pair), with lobes ± triangular, acute or acuminate; upper lip a single broad lobe scarcely longer than the lower lip. Corolla 2-lipped; tube variously bent to straight, longer than calyx, swollen at the base or produced into a spur on the upper side; lower lip entire; upper lip 3- or 4-lobed. Stamens 4, fertile; anthers ± circular, medifixed. Ovary deeply 4-lobed; style gynobasic; stigma 2-fid.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 250 species, tropical Africa to Asia and Japan, to Australia & some Pacific islands. Australia: c. 28 species (22 species endemic, 6 species naturalized), mainland States.

A number of species are commonly cultivated as ornamentals.

Text by B. J. Conn
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Plectranthus caldericola,    Plectranthus ecklonii,    Plectranthus nitidus

 Key to the species 
1Bracts not forming an imbricate crown-like covering at the apex of the inflorescence; leaves non-aromatic or pleasantly aromatic; pedicels spreading to ascending; mature calyx glabrous in throat2
Bracts forming a conspicuous imbricate crown-like covering at the apex of the inflorescence; leaves strongly and unpleasantly aromatic when crushed; pedicels erect and appressed to the inflorescence axis; mature calyx densely hairy in throat. ('Plectranthus caninus group')11
2Bracts persistent at least until the fruiting stage; corolla white, sometimes pale mauve, with purple markings or freely speckled with purplish spots3
Bracts soon caducous (in P. alloplectus, often persistent in flower, but not persistent in fruit); corolla more or less violet-blue
                       Back to 1
5
3Branches more or less glabrous to shortly hairy, with white, antrorse hairs; margins of leaves with 3–6 pairs of teethPlectranthus verticillatus
Branches densely covered with long hairs; margins of leaves with 7–15 pairs of teeth
                       Back to 2
4
4Upper calyx lobe erect; branches densely covered with maroon-purple multicelled hairs, hence branches purplishPlectranthus ciliatus
Upper calyx lobe horizontal; branches densely covered with white multicelled hairs
                       Back to 3
Plectranthus amboinicus
5Leaves with margins finely crenate; lamina lanceolate to ovate (length to breadth ratio 2.2–4.2); bracts usually persistent in flower; stamens and style well-exserted by 1.5–4.5 mm beyond the lower corolla lipPlectranthus alloplectus
Leaves with margins crenate to more or less toothed; lamina usually ovate to broad-ovate (length to breadth ratio mostly 1–2); bracts soon caducous; stamens and style scarcely, if at all, exceeding the lower corolla lip
                       Back to 2
6
6Branches sparsely covered with antrorse hairsPlectranthus apreptus
Branches moderately to densely covered with spreading or more or less appressed and retrorse hairs, hairs never antrorse
                       Back to 5
7
7Margins of leaves with 10–23 pairs of teeth; lamina always densely hairy8
Margins of leaves with 4–9 pairs of teeth, if 10–12 pairs of teeth then leaves sparsely hairy
                       Back to 6
9
8Hairs of branches of 2 types, always with gland-tipped more or less spreading hairs, and usually with spreading multicelled hairsPlectranthus graveolens
Hairs of branches appressed and retrorse or branches more or less glabrous
                       Back to 7
Plectranthus argentatus
9Branches moderately to densely covered with long, more or less spreading multicelled hairs and glands absentPlectranthus cremnus
Branches sparsely to densely covered with short, more or less appressed, retrorse hairs and glands always present
                       Back to 7
10
10Branches densely covered with shortly, more or less appressed retrorse hairs; lamina densely hairy, sessile glands not prominentPlectranthus suaveolens
Branches sparsely covered with short retrorse hairs; lamina sparsely covered with antrorse hairs and sessile glands prominent
                       Back to 9
Plectranthus parviflorus
11Annual herb; inflorescence with short internodes such that flowers and fruits densely clustered; corolla 8–10 mm longPlectranthus caninus
Perennial herb; inflorescence lax basally with at least 1 or 2 spaced fruiting whorls below the flowers; corolla at least 12 mm long
                       Back to 1
12
12Inflorescence 7–15 cm long, with 5–12 spaced fruiting whorls below the flowers; corolla 12–20 mm longPlectranthus neochilus
Inflorescence usually 3–5 cm long, with 1 or 2, rarely more, spaced fruiting whorls below the flowers; corolla 20–25 mm long
                       Back to 11
Plectranthus ornatus

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