Gymnosiphon usambaricus Engl.
  • Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 20: 138 (1894) 

Notes: Distribution: SE. Kenya to Tanzania

General Description

Stem decumbent at the base, slender, 6 in. high. Leaves scale-like, narrower than the stem, the lower lanceolate, the upper oblong, rather obtuse. Cyme terminal, bifid, 5–9-flowered; lateral branches longer than the first flower. Perianth-tube cylindrical, with 6 glands on the outside near the top of the ovary; outer lobes 3, rather shorter than the tube, 3-lobed, induplicato-valvate; inner lobes 3, minute, ovate. Anthers subsessile on the perianth-tube opposite the inner lobes, with 4 globose cells. Ovary 1-celled, with 3 bilobed, many-ovuled placentas; style as long as the perianth-tube; stigma large, 3-lobed.

Stems often shortly decumbent, then erect, relatively robust, usually ribbed, occasionally branched, white, cream, pink or brown, 5-35 cm. high. Basal and scale leaves up to 5 mm. long. Flowers few-many in a lax bifid cyme, the first flower at joint of the opposite lateral branches, odorous; cyme branches 1-7 cm. long; bract scale-like, up to 3.5 mm. long; pedicel 2-7 mm. Perianth-tube waxy, white, cylindrical, narrow, 4-10 mm.; outer tepals white to yellow, 3-lobed, mid-lobe broadly ovate, lateral lobes lanceolate to ovate, undulate, acute to obtuse, subequal in length, 1-8 mm.; inner tepals small, ovate, 0.25-0.4 mm. Anthers yellow; thecae globose; anther-connective rectangular-globose, apiculate, 0.75 × 0.5 mm. Ovary shallowly obovoid, 1-1.5 mm. long; stigmas ovate, with a depression at the centre, inappendiculate. Fruit greyish, to 4 mm. long, with crown of persistent part of the perianth-tube, cylindrical to conical, 2.5-5 mm. long. Fig. 2/1-5.


HAB. Amongst leaf-mould on evergreen forest floor; 900-2200 m.


Kenya Sagala Hills, 1 Jan. 1971, Faden 71/9! & Teita Hills, Ngangao Forest, 6 Feb. 1953, Bally 8747! & SE. end Ngangao Mt., 9 Feb. 1966, Gillett, Burtt & Osborn 17141!

Tanzania Bomole, 10 Oct. 1928, Greenway 871!

German East Africa Usambara, Holst, 2478.

Tanzania Mufindi, Nyalawa R., 13 Apr. 1971, Paget-Wilkes 873!

Tanzania Nguru Mts., near Turiani, 29 Mar. 1953, Drummond & Hemsley 1870!


in E.J. 20: 138, t. 5/A-L (1894) & P.O.A. C: 151 (1895); C.H. Wright in F.T.A. 7: 12 (1897); Jonker in Med. Bot. Mus. Rijksuniv. 51: 181 (1938).

Bot. Jahrb. xx. 138, t. 5, figs. A.–L. —Engl. Pfl. Ost-Afr. C. 151.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa East Tropical Africa Kenya
  • Tanzania


  • 1 Govaerts, R., Wilkin, P. & Saunders, R.M.K. (2007). World Checklist of Dioscoreales. Yams and their allies: 1-65. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 2 Govaerts, R. (2004). World Checklist of Monocotyledons Database in ACCESS: 1-54382. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 3 E.J. Cowley (1988) Burmanniaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa 0 (0)
  • 4 (By C. H. Wright.) (1898) Burmanniaceæ. Flora of Tropical Africa 7 (0)

 Information From

Flora of Tropical Africa
Flora of Tropical Africa. Published on the Internet;
Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa. Published on the Internet;
WCS higher taxonomy
  • C All Rights Reserved
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
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