Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera - Home Page
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Interactive keys to the identification of seed plants of southern Africa using keys based on plant morphology.

(Home Page - Version 20160604)


The content in this key is based on the material presented in Leistner (ed.) 2000. Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. This reference may be consulted for further information not presented in this key.

Throughout this key, statements of a temporal nature, which may no longer be valid, must be taken in the context of the publication date (2000) of the work upon which the key is based.

Where appropriate, page number references to content within Leistner (ed.) 2000 have been replaced with links to the related content.

Additional resources:

Links to the following resources are not available anywhere else in this website:

About the structure of this key:

The following items are to some extent interdependent:

  • This key operates through two major levels, each terminating at a taxon data node:
    • Top level to Family – [Family data node]
    • Family to Genus – [Genus data node]
  • Intermediate ranks between Family and Genus, where applicable (i.e. definitive data for those intermediate taxa are provided), are treated in much the same way with the intermediate taxa data pages interfacing between successive intermediate keys.
  • Keys that are informally separated into groups or sections or into intermediate taxa by name only (i.e. no definitive data for those intermediate taxa is provided) are aggregated with the start of each group, section or taxon within that key indicated to provide some measure of correlation with Leistner 2000 for cross reference purposes.
  • Every page loads with all the links in the Main Menu bar active. The Home Page (this page) is also available by clicking anywhere on the Logo Banner at the top of every page.

About using this key:

  • In the Main Menu the following apply:
    • Home connects back to this, the Home Page, from any other page in this key.
    • e-Keys provides a drop-down list of links to keys to Major Groups.
    • Taxa provides a drop-down list of tables providing direct links to individual taxa:
      • Families lists all the represented families alphabetically by Major Groups
      • Genera lists all the represented genera alphabetically.
    • Glossary loads the glossary either in a new tab or in a new window, depending on the user's browser, so that, once loaded, it is available at the click of a tab or a button and without losing one's place in the current key which would then also be one click away from the Glossary.
    • Contact provides contact information to people involved with the construction and maintenance of this key.
  • On every Key Page the following applies:
    • Upon clicking on a link to a couplet (a right arrow), the browser will, page length permitting, scroll the linked couplet to the top of the browser window, and it will continue to do so (remaining page length permitting), for each subsequently selected couplet, forward or backward. The browser will not scroll the top of a page lower than the top of the browser window, nor scroll the bottom of a page up higher than the bottom of the browser window (page length permitting). If the page is shorter than the browser window then the top of the page is anchored to the top of the browser window and the browser does not display a vertical scroll bar.
    • Excluding Couplet 001, when a key page is first loaded, each subsequently selected couplet is highlighted by displaying brighter shades of its background colours.
    • Built-in backtracking within a key, using the arrow on the left of every couplet, other than Couplet 001, will take one back, step by step, via the built-in dichotomous routing, to the start of that key. There is one exception – when a member (the pointer) of two or more couplets point to the same couplet (the pointee), then, only from the pointee, one is returned to the last common branching in the key of the pointee and all its pointers, returning one to the place in the key where all their branches first started diverging; this is effective irrespective of which path was used to arrive at the pointee.
    • The arrow on the left of every Couplet 001 in every key returns to the start of its primary caller's page.

About getting your browser to help you:

  • The Glossary can be searched using the browser's search utility – invoke it by pressing Ctrl+F (Mac: Cmd+F); behaviour varies with browser vendor and version but it is generally an incremental search with some search options (e.g. whole word) that can be set to cut down on selection clutter.
  • The browser's vertical scroll bar or mouse wheel may be used to browse longer keys without making selections.
  • The browser's back button may be used to retrace one's steps more precisely.

About classification:

  • The classification for each taxon is shown in its page heading as an in-line listing from its previous major level to the taxon concerned (i.e. MAJOR GROUP to Family or Family to Genus)

About nomenclature:

  • Short references for taxa are shown in the Nomenclature paragraph.
  • Short references that are suspect and have not been verified since the hard copy publication date are flagged with a tilde (~) followed by a short explanation/reason.

About distributions and the area covered:

  • The areas included are Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.
  • Taxon distribution as presented in Leistner 2000 is presented in a Distribution: paragraph on each taxon page, segregated into Global distribution and/or southern Africa distribution.

About references:

  • Each taxon data page contains a References paragraph which lists the full reference for each short reference cited under that taxon heading and arranged in alphabetical order by author name.
  • Full references for short references appearing on classification pages or key pages are included in the References paragraph on the calling taxon data page.

About the formatting of text in these keys:

  • All taxa/levels above family rank, are formatted in all uppercase letters. e.g. POALES
  • All taxa in the familial rank series (family to subtribe) are formatted in lowercase, first letter capitalised, all bold: e.g. Poaceae.
  • All taxa in the generic rank series (genus to subseries) are formatted in lowercase, first letter capitalised, all italics: e.g. Agrostis.
  • All taxa in the specific rank series (species to subforma) are formatted in all lowercase italics: e.g. avenacea.
  • A species name is always preceded by its genus name (abbreviated if applicable) and sub-specific taxa names are each preceded by their applicable abbreviated rank name in plain text.
  • This formatting, when applied in conjunction with links, will be influenced variously by the styling and behaviour of those links, however, that influence is consistent and applicable throughout the key.

How to cite this resource:

  • The name(s) of the compiler(s) of each family appear(s) directly below the family data page title. A reference to a family treatment from the website should therefore be cited using the following format:
    • Author, Initials. 2000. Family name. In O.A. Leistner (ed.), Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. URL (date accessed)
  • To cite the website as a single work, use the following format:
    • Leistner, O.A. (ed.) 2000. Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. URL (date accessed)