Gomphocarpus physocarpus E. Mey.

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Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cecil Kop, Mutare

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cecil Kop, Mutare

Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Photo: Bart Wursten
Cecil Kop, Mutare

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

Synonyms: Asclepias physocarpa (E. Mey.) Schltr.
Common names: Balloon cotton bush (English) Hairy balls (English) Milkweed (English)
Status: Probably native
Robust perennial herb, up to 2.5 m tall. Stems usually single, branching near the top, upper parts with spreading white hairs. Leaves opposite, sometimes sub-opposite or crowded near the ends of branches, narrowly oblong to lanceolate, 4-12 cm long, mostly hairless except for soft white hairs on the midrib and margins. Flowers in extra-axillary, 5-12-flowered, nodding umbels. Corolla strongly reflexed, white. Corona lobes attached 1.5 - 2 mm above the base of the staminal column, white, tinged pink, mauve or purple, laterally compressed, as tall as the column. Follicle more or less erect on a twisted pedicel, spherical to subspherical, often somewhat depressed on one side, distinctly inflated, not beaked, covered in soft bristles. See Gomphocarpus fruticosus for comparison.
Derivation of specific name: physocarpus: bladderfruit, referring to the inflated fruits
Habitat: A sometimes weedy species in grassland, mostly in disturbed areas.
Flowering time:All year
Worldwide distribution: Native to South Africa, Swaziland and southern Mozambique; most likely introduced elsewhere in Africa.
Botswana distribution:
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Danaus chrysippus aegyptius (Food plant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Bandeira, S., Bolnick, D. & Barbosa, F. (2007). Wild Flowers of Southern Mozambique Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique Page 117. As Asclepias physocarpa (Includes a picture).

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. & Amude, A.B. (2004). A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 30 Sabonet, Pretoria Page 25.

Goyder, D.J. & Nicholas, A. (2001). A revision of Gomphocarpus R. Br. Kew Bulletin 56 Pages 788 - 790.

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 27.

Other sources of information about Gomphocarpus physocarpus:

Our websites:

Flora of Mozambique: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flora of Zambia: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flora of Zimbabwe: Gomphocarpus physocarpus

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
African Plant Database: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Biodiversity Explorer (Biodiversity of southern Africa): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Ispot Southern Africa: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
JSTOR Plant Science: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Gomphocarpus physocarpus
The Plant List (version 1.1): Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Tropicos: Gomphocarpus physocarpus

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-18

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2018). Flora of Botswana: Species information: Gomphocarpus physocarpus.
https://www.botswanaflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=145710, retrieved 26 April 2018

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