Desplatsia Notes

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Partial Synonymy of Desplatsia and Duboscia

D. chrysochlamys (Mildbr. & Burret) Mildbr. & Burret
D. dewevrei (De Wild. & T. Durand) Burret
D. lutea A. Chev. ex Hutch. & Dalziel
D. subericarpa Bocq.

Desplatsia (or Desplatzia) is a genus of small trees native to tropical Africa, from Guinea to Uganda, formerly classified in Tiliaceae. Both spellings are in use, and it is not obvious which is correct, but Desplatsia is the commoner, and is used by Kubitzki and Bayer [1], Watson and Dallwitz [2], and TROPICOS [3]. Hutchinson [4] uses Desplatzia and IPNI [5] has entries under both spellings. The two spellings occur at approximately equal frequencies on the WWW.

The genus is currently placed in Grewioideae, and is doubtfully distinct from Duboscia

The genus was erected by Bocquillon in 1867, with, at that time, the single species Desplatsia subericarpa. The genus contains few species. (Kubtizki and Bayer say 4 to 6 species, Hutchinson 6 to 8). In addition to Desplatsia subericarpa the other more commonly recognised species are Desplatsia chrysochlamys, Desplatsia lutea and Desplatsia dewevrei, with Desplatsia caudata, Desplatsia chrysophylla, Desplatsia floribunda, Desplatsia klainii, Desplatsia mildbraedii and Desplatsia trillesiana as other recorded names. I suspect that D. chrysophylla is an orthographic variant of D. chrysochlamys.

The foliage of Desplatsia consists of dentate or serrate leaves with persistent, subulately divided stipules. The leaves may bear domatia (cavities colonised by ants) The inforescence is a few to many-flowered umbel, sometimes with an involucre. The sepals are boat-shaped. The petals are very small, and are sometimes glandular. Unlike the situation in Duboscia there is not an androgynophore. The stamens are numerous, and are fused at the base into a tube. The ovary is divided into 5 to 10 locules, each locule containing numerous ovules in two series. The style has a fringed stigma. The fruit is large (up to 5 in wide), and globose to ellipsoid in shape, with a woody exterior, and a fibrous and juicy interior. The seeds are numerous amd flattened, contained an embryo that nearly fills the seed coat, and little endosperm.

Other features distinguishing Desplatsia from Duboscia are the size (Duboscia are large trees), and the denticulate leaf margins, entire stipules, and free stamens of Duboscia.

Desplatsia is found in forest, woodland and savanna habitats.

The fruit is noted as an item in the diets of elephants, apes and human hunter-gatherers.

A specimen (possible type specimen) of D. klainii Pierre is shown in the NYBG virtual herbarium. This specimen, showing leaves and fruits, does not obviously differ from the description of Desplatsia subericarpa given in Oliver [6].



  1. Kubitzki & Bayer, Malvaceae, in Kubitzki & Bayer, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Plants V: (2003)
  2. Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J., The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval (1992 onwards)
  3. Tropicos
  4. Hutchinson, J.B., The Genera of Flowering Plants 2: 536-567 (1967)
  5. International Plant Names Index
  6. Masters, Maxwell T. in Oliver, D., Flora of Tropical Africa 1: 175-268 (1868)

Malvaceae Info (Home)
Index to Genera
Partial Synonymy of Desplatsia and Duboscia

© 2006 Stewart R. Hinsley