Notes on morphological characteristics and life history strategy of the genus Acanthopsis Harv. (Acanthaceae)




habit, functional traits, inflorescences, life form, pollination, morphology, myxospermy, pollen, seed dispersal


Background: Morphological characteristics and life history strategies are vital in the success of plants to inhabit specific areas. Until recently the genus Acanthopsis was taxonomically poorly understood, and a recent revision rectified this aspect. The group comprises 20 species, all confined to arid parts of South Africa and Namibia. Much regarding the life history and ecology of the genus was still unknown.

Objectives: Members of the genus Acanthopsis adapted to harsh environmental conditions have evolved an array of functional traits to enhance their chances of survival. The present contribution focuses on a select few of these traits, with discussion centred around them.

Methods: This paper gives an overview of some casual and anecdotal observations made on the morphological characteristics and life history strategy during the taxonomic study.

Results: Significant adaptations include a perennial subshrub habit, spinous inflorescences/infructescences, and flowers exhibiting the classical syndrome for insect pollination, likely by insects possessing elongated proboscises. Additionally, the seeds are myxospermous and undergo dispersal solely when there is an ample supply of water for germination. Noteworthy is the prompt germination of seeds, occurring within 24 h.

Conclusion: Certain observations may potentially serve as catalysts for further, more in-depth investigations into the ecological significance of specific morphological traits and how the species might respond to anticipated future changes in temperature and precipitation.


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How to Cite

Steyn, H., & van Wyk, A. (2024). Notes on morphological characteristics and life history strategy of the genus Acanthopsis Harv. (Acanthaceae). Bothalia, African Biodiversity & Conservation, 54(1).



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