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the web of life in southern Africa

Salicaceae (willow and poplar family)

[= Flacourtiaceae - part]

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Malpighiales

Fifty-five genera and about 1010 species (worldwide), with 10 genera and 26 species native to southern Africa, a further one genus and seven species that are naturalised, and a further three genera and 28 species that are cultivated in the region. The family used to incude two genera (Salix and Populus - the willows and poplars) but based on genetic evidence mainly, the family now includes the majority of the genera that used to be placed in the Flacourtiaceae.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).


One species, Bivinia jalbertii, distributed across tropical Africa (including Zimbabwe and Mozambique).


About 160 species (cosmopolitan in the tropics), of which two, Casearia gladiiformis (Sword-leaf) and Casearia battiscombei (recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique, pictured right) occurs in southern Africa. This genus is sometimes placed in the family Samydaceae.s


About 20 species (Africa to Sri Lanka to New Guinea), with nine species native to southern Africa.


About 15 species (SE Asia, Malaysia, Polynesia, Madagascar, Africa), of which one, Flacourtia indica (Governor's plum), occurs in southern Africa. Sometimes placed in family Flacourtiaceae.


Two species, both of which occur in southern Africa: Gerrardina foliosa and Gerrardina eylesiana (recorded from Zimbabwe, see Flora of Zimbabwe). Sometimes placed in family Flacourtiaceae.



About 180 species worldwide (tropics and subtropics), of which three are native to southern Africa.


Four species (tropical Africa, Arabian Peninsula), with one, Oncoba spinosa, native to southern Africa.


One species: Pseudoscolopia polyantha, endemic to southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape).


Salix (willows)

About 450 species worldwide (mainly temperate regions in the northern hemisphere), with one indigenous and three naturalised species in southern Africa. There are an additional 13 species cultivated in southern Africa and additional hybrid species. Salix babylonica (Weeping willow, Treurwilger) and Salix fragilis (Crack or brittle willow) are declared Category 2 invasive plants in South Africa.


About 37 species (Africa, Madagascar, Comores, Mascarenes, Malaysia and Australia) of which five are native to southern Africa.


Of the five species, two are native to southern Africa: Trimeria grandifolia and Trimeria trinervis.

Genera naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI).

Populus (poplars and aspens)

About 40 species (north temperate and subtropical regions plus one East African species). No indigenous species in southern Africa but there are four naturalised species, of which two are declared Category 2 invasive plants in South Africa. There are an additional eight species and one hybrid that are cultivated in southern Africa.

Additional genera, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002). All these genera were previously in the Flacourtiaceae.


Ten species, native to temperate and subtropical South America. Three species cultivated in southern Africa.


Idesia polycarpa (Ligiri)

Native to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. See Idesia (Wikipedia)



About 85 species, mainly native to the tropics of Central and South America, the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, Asia and Australasia but also extending into warm-temperate regions. Three species cultivated in southern Africa, all from east Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan).



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Jordaan, M. 2000. Salicaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 499-500. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.