Coccinia grandiflora Cogn., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 21: 211. 1895.

Holstein, Norbert, 2015, Monograph of Coccinia (Cucurbitaceae), PhytoKeys 54, pp. 1-166: 68-70

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Coccinia grandiflora Cogn., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 21: 211. 1895.


4. Coccinia grandiflora Cogn., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 21: 211. 1895.  

Coccinia grandiflora   Cogn. ex Engl., Abh. K. Preuss. Akad. Wiss.: 34. 1894. nom. nud.

Coccinia grandiflora   Type: Tanzania. [Tanga]: Mlalo, dry hill range. C.H.E.W. Holst 506a (Holotype: B, destroyed).

Coccinia grandiflora   Type: Tanzania. Tanga: Usambara, near Amani, male, fl, [H.J.P.?] Winkler 3611 (Neotype, designated here: BR!).

Coccinia engleri   Gilg, Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 34: 354. 1904.

Coccinia grandiflora   Type: Tanzania. [Tanga]: West Usambara, Sakare [Sakarre], at waterfall in primeval forest, 1100 m, fl, fr, Sep, A. Engler, Reise nach Ostafrika 948 (Holotype: B, destroyed).

Coccinia grandiflora   Type: drawing in protologue (Lectotype, designated here).


Perennial climber. Stems up to 20 m, glabrous or (when from higher altitudes) sparsely covered with long, whitish trichomes. Petioles 2.5-13 cm, indumentum as on stem. Leaves 12-20 × 11-20 cm, profoundly 5-lobate. Lobes triangulate, ovate to oblong. Leaf margin smooth to slightly serrate, dentate. Apex obtuse to acute with final tooth. Upper leaf surface glabrous with small hyaline pustules. Lower leaf surface glabrous, rarely with few trichomes on the main nerves esp. at base, with blackish glands scattered esp. along main nerves. Probracts up to 5 mm long (Fig. 8a). Tendrils bifid. Male flowers solitary or in (usually few-(-10-)flowered) racemes. Common peduncle 4-12 cm, glabrous. Pedicels of flowers in racemes 0.2-1.3 cm, glabrous. Bracts up to 3 mm or missing. Pedicel of solitary flowers 4-15 cm, glabrous. Perianth tube glabrous. Calyx lobes (2-)4-13 mm, lineal, narrowly lanceolate to triangulate, tip subulate to subacute. Corolla 4-6.5 cm long, apricot, salmon, yellowish-buff to yellow, lobes 2-4.7 cm. Filament column and anther head not seen. Pollen sac yellow-orange. Female flowers solitary, rarely in racemes, glabrous. Common peduncle < 1 cm, pedicel in racemes, pedicel of solitary flowers 3-4 cm. Ovary long cylindrical, glabrous or with hyaline-whitish pustules. Hypanthium glabrous, calyx lobes and corolla like in male flowers. Style columnar, yellowish to buff. Stigmas 2-lobed, yellow. Fruits < 30 × 2-4 cm, long cylindrical, glabrous, when unripe green, ripe (orange-)red. Seeds 4.5 × 2.5 × 1-1.2 mm (L/W/H), symmetrically obovate, face flatly lenticular.


Flowering time: January-December.


Fig. 25. Southeastern Kenya (Coast Province: Taita Hills, coastal forests), Tanzania (SE Dodoma; Iringa: Uzungwa Mts; Kilimanjaro; Lindi; Morogoro: Nguru Mts, Ukaguru Mts, Uzungwa Mts; Mtwara; Tanga: Usambara Mts), Malawi (Northern Region: Misuku Hills; Central Region: Nchisi Mts; Southern Region: Lisao Hill), Mozambique (Manica: East African Highlands with foothills), Zimbabwe (Manicaland: East African Highlands with foothills). Elevation 30-1900 m. On rich red-brown clay, over limestone, on diabase outcrops. Coastal and lowland forests and forest margins ( Parinari   sp.- Newtonia buchanii   forests and others), riverine forests (with Cola clavata   , Synsepalum msolo   , Sorindeia madagascariensis   ), rarely in montane forests ( Cassipourea malosana   - Teclea simplicifolia   - Teclea nobilis   - Olea mildbraedii   - Tabernaemontana   forest), or Miombo from degraded forests.


Fruits are reported to be either poisonous (A. Peter 56598) or edible (W.J. Kindeketa 630). Leaves cooked in water used against fever (K. Braun 714).

Vernacular names.

Kihehe: mudesselema (F. Haerdi 617/0), Kipare: hotwe (W.J. Kindeketa 630), Kishamba: matombo shanga (G.R. Williams G43), Kisamba: matombo ya nyoka "snake breasts" (M.A. Mwangoka & A. Kalage 1578).


The southern distributed individuals in Zimbabwe and C Mozambique often bear short trichomes, and the leaves are rather shallowly lobate, just as in Coccinia schliebenii   . These populations may represent hybrids or descendants of a non-differentiated common ancestor.

It is difficult to distinguish between Coccinia grandiflora   and Coccinia mildbraedii   in the Central Tanzanian highlands (Eastern Arc Mts). Both species also occur in high altitude forests and are clearly delimited by flower size. Coccinia grandiflora   also has larger probracts than Coccinia mildbraedii   , but this is rarely well visible. Coccinia grandiflora   may also be confused vegetatively with Coccinia barteri   in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Taxonomic remarks.

The Coccinia grandiflora   holotype by Holst was destroyed in the fire of the Berlin herbarium in 1944. The Winkler specimen was chosen as neotype because it was already designated as type in December 2008. There is no annotation on the type label, however, and it seems that this neotypification was not published. However, the Winkler specimen label bears Cogniaux’ handwriting. Strangely, the Winkler specimen also states "mars 1892", with the 92 crossed out. This is the date when Holst collected his specimen; but H. J. P. Winkler collected in Tanzania in 1910.

As the holotype of Coccinia engleri   also was destroyed, the original material left is a drawing in the publication of the protologue. The drawing is of sufficient quality to synonymize unambiguously Coccinia engleri   with Coccinia grandiflora   .

Specimens examined.

(Selection, in total: 105) Kenya. Coast Province: Taita-Deveta District, Taita Hills, Mbololo Forest, 3°19'S, 38°27'E, Mwambirwa Forest Station, R.B. Faden et al. 799 (EA, WAG [WAG0234141]). Malawi. Southern Region: Chiradzulu district, Lisau Hill above Njuli P.O., R.K. Brummitt & I.H. Patel 18534 (K, WAG [WAG0361192]). Mozambique. Manica: Chimoio, Garuzo mountain ridge, J.G. Garçia 522A (LISC, MO). Tanzania. Arusha: above Saje, N side of Ngurdoto Crater rim, P.J. Greenway & K. Kanuri 13444 (EA, K, M, PRE). Kilimanjaro: Chome [ward], Njokava forest, R. Abdallah 814 (EA, NHT). Lindi: 40 km W of Lindi, Lake Lutamba, Mirola Valley, H.J.E. Schlieben 5905 (B, HBG, G, M, S [S08-12068], Z (2)). Morogoro: Kilosa district, Ukaguru Mts, along track between Mandege and Ihanga rock, c. 6°24'S, 36°56'E, M. Thulin & B.E. Mhoro 2877 (DSM, EA, K, MO). Tanga: western Usambara Mts, Shagai forest, forestry house near Sunga, R.B. Drummond & J.H. Hemsley 2783 (B, EA, K, S [S08-12075]); [eastern Usambara Mts], Amani, c. 50 m before gate of headquarters, 05°05'58.3"S, 38°39'11.2"E, N. Holstein et al. 96 (B, DSM, M), 97 (BR, DSM, M), 98 (DSM, M, WAG), 99 (DSM, M), and 100 (M). Zimbabwe. Manicaland: Chipinge district, outskirts of Chirinda [forest] above Msilizwe river, B. Goldsmith 2/63 (B, BR, S [S08-12072]); [near Mutare], S slope of Murahwa’s Hill, N.C. Chase 8008 (COI, K, LISC, MO).