Taxonomic Studies of Lippia javanica (Burm F.) Spreng. Complex (Verbenaceae) in East African Flora

Main Article Content

Masinde Wafula Collins
David Mutisya Musyimi
Itambo Malombe


Lippia javanica complex is widely spread in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa; however, there exist a taxonomic conflict in the aforementioned species complex where morphologically similar forms of the species occur in the same habitat. In the Southern Africa region, there are two varieties L. javanica var. javanica and L. javanica var. whytei that were formally recognized. Morphological characters of the 63 East African herbarium specimens were sampled. Phenetically, the varieties in the Southern African region overlap in habit and leaf characters. Nevertheless, differences in floral characters such as the number of inflorescence per axil and varying peduncle length form the basis for the morphological distinctness. Multivariate analysis using cluster and principal component analysis failed to delimit the infraspecific taxa. Findings from this present study indicated that the variations are not sufficient enough to warrant separation. Thus we proposed that the suspected varieties be synonymized under the earliest name Lippia javanica.

Lippia javanica, taxonomic conflict, infraspecific taxa, peduncle.

Article Details

How to Cite
Collins, M. W., Musyimi, D. M., & Malombe, I. (2021). Taxonomic Studies of Lippia javanica (Burm F.) Spreng. Complex (Verbenaceae) in East African Flora. Asian Journal of Research in Botany, 5(1), 1-8. Retrieved from
Original Research Article


Kamanula JF, Belmain SR, Hall DR, Farman DI, Goyder DJ, Mvumi BM, Stevenson PC. Chemical variation and insecticidal activity of Lippia javanica (Burm. F.) Spreng essential oil against Sitophilus zeamais Motschulsky. Industrial Crops and Products. 2017;110:75-82. Available: [Accessed 20 February 2018].

Munir AA. A taxonomic revision of the genus Lippia [Houst. ex] Linn. (Verbenaceae) in Australia. Journal of the Adelaide Botanic Garden. 1993;129–145. Available: [Accessed 15 February 2018]

Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Verbenaceae. In Verdcourt, Flora of Tropical East Africa, Verbenaceae (pp. 30-31). London: Royal Botanic Garden; 1992.

Van Wyk B-E, De Wet H, Van Heerden FR. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants in the southeastern Karoo, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany. 2008;74(4):696–704.

Maroyi A. Lippia javanica (Burm. f.) Spreng: Traditional and Commercial Uses and Phytochemical and Pharmacological Significance in the African and Indian Subcontinent. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine; 2017. Available:

Ramos S, Rojas LB, Lucena ME, Meccia G, Usubillaga A. Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of Origanum majorana L. essential oil from the venezuelan Andes. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 2011;23(5):45–49. Available: [Accessed 16 February 2018]

Endris A, Asfaw N, Bisrat D. Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of the essential oil of Lippia javanica leaves from Ethiopia. Journal of Essential Oil Research. 2016;28(3):221–226.

Montanari RM, Barbosa LC, Demuner AJ, Silva CJ, Carvalho LS, Andrade NJ. Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of essential oils from verbenaceae species: Alternative sources of (E)-caryophyllene and germacrene-D. Química Nova. 2011;34(9):1550–1555.

Muzemu S, Mvumi BM, Nyirenda SPM, Sileshi GW, Sola P, Chikukura L, Stevenson P. Pesticidal effects of indigenous plants extracts against rape aphids and tomato red spider mites. In African Crop Science Conference Proceedings. 2011;10:169– 171. Available:

Bridson, Forman. The Herbarium Handbook Published by Royal Botanic Gardens, United Kingdom; 2010. ISBN 10: 1900347431.

Otieno DF, Balkwill K, Paton AJ. A multivariate analysis of morphological variation in the Hemizygia bracteosa complex (Lamiaceae, Ocimeae). Plant Systematics and Evolution. 2006b; 261(1):19–38. DOI 10.1007/s00606-006-0429-6

Otieno DB. K „Paton, AJ & Savolainen, V. 2006a. A reassessment of Hemizygia and Syncolostemon (Ocimeae Lamiaceae). Taxon. 2006a;55:941–958. Available: [Accessed 20 February 2018]

Cron GV, Balkwill K, Knox EB. A revision of the genus Cineraria (Asteraceae, Senecioneae). KewBulletin. 2006;449–535. Available:

Vwononi EG. (September 10th). Taxonomy and nutrient composition of species in the Vernonia hymenolepsis complex in Tropical East Africa. Thesis. Eldoret, Rift Valley, Kenya: University of Eldoret; 2015.

NVCron GV, Balkwill K, Knox EB. Multivariate analysis of morphological variation in Cineraria deltoidea (Asteraceae, Senecioneae). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 2007;154(4): 497–521.

Sebola RJ, Balkwill K. Calibration, verification and stepwise analysis for numerical phenetics: Olinia (Oliniaceae) as an example. South African Journal of Botany. 2013;88:42–55.

Malombe I, Kelbessa E, Muasya M. A taxonomic study of the Blepharis edulis complex (Acanthaceae) in Eastern Africa. Journal of East African Natural History. 2002;91(1):81– 90. (2002)91[81: ATSOTB] 2.0.CO; 2

Amitani Y. Prototypical Reasoning about Species and the Species Problem. Biological Theory. 2015;10(4):289–300. Available:

Knowles LL, Carstens BC. Delimiting species without monophyletic gene trees. Systematic Biology. 2007;56 (6):887–895.