Alternanthera caracasana Kunth

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Alternanthera caracasana

Photo: Bart Wursten
Borrowdale Common, Harare

Alternanthera caracasana

Photo: Bart Wursten
Borrowdale Common, Harare

Alternanthera caracasana

Photo: Mark Hyde
Between Celebration Centre and Dandaro

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Synonyms: Alternanthera peploides (Schult.) Britton
Common names: Paperthorn (English)
Status: Introduced
Much-branched, prostrate, mat-forming perennial with a vertical rootstock but also rooting at the lower nodes. Flowers off-white and hairy.
Notes: Alternanthera pungens and A. caracasana are similar prostrate species growing in similar habitats, often together. Apart from the key characters, the flowering heads of A. pungens are much more spiny to the touch (as a result of the longer awns on the tepals and bracteoles) than A. caracasana. The species Guilleminea densa is also superficially similar, has the same prostrate habit and grows in similar places but differs from the two species of Alternanthera in having inflorescences which are not prickly to the touch. It also differs in having dense woolly hairs on the underside of the prostrate mat, which the two species of Alternanthera do not.
Derivation of specific name: caracasana: of Caracas, Venezuela
Habitat: On roadsides, waste ground, lawns; apparently thriving in places where it is trodden upon.
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Native of tropical America; widespread introduction in tropical Africa
Botswana distribution: SE
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

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 16.

Phiri, P.S.M. (2005). A Checklist of Zambian Vascular Plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 32 Page 20.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 20.

Townsend, C.C. (1988). Amaranthaceae Flora Zambesiaca 9(1) Pages 125 - 127. (Includes a picture).

Other sources of information about Alternanthera caracasana:

Our websites:

Flora of Caprivi: cultivated Alternanthera caracasana
Flora of Malawi: Alternanthera caracasana
Flora of Zambia: Alternanthera caracasana
Flora of Zimbabwe: Alternanthera caracasana

External websites:

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

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 Botswana: Species information: Alternanthera caracasana., retrieved 30 May 2024

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