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This page is maintained 
by Dr. Lena Struwe 
(e-mail), and hosted by
Rutgers University
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Credits

updated: 01/19/11 

Chironia
(Gentianaceae: Chironieae: Chironiinae)

more images

Common name: 

Latin name and synonyms: Chironia L. (1753)

Etymology: Chironia is named after Chiron, the most famous, and immortal, centaur with exceptional goodness and wisdom (link). Centaurs were Greek mythological creatures that were half man - half horses (link). Chironia is closely related to Centaurium, another gentian genus named after the centaurs.

Species:  15 species

Distribution:  sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar

Habitat:  grasslands, fynbos

Characteristics:  Annual or perennial herbs, sometimes with a woody base. Leaves glabrous, rarely hairy. Flowers 5-merous, in cymose inflorescences. Calyx tube usually shorter than the linear-lanceolate calyx lobes. Corolla white to purple-pink, salvershaped; corolla tube usually shorter than corolla lobes. Anthers helically twisted after dehiscence. Pollen released as monads. Stigma with oblong lobes to capitate. Fruit a capsule (rarely a berry: Chironia baccifera).

Evolution and related plants:   Chironia belongs to subtribe Chironiinae in tribe Chironieae.  The closest relative is the genus Orphium, which also occurs in Africa.

Economic uses:  

Notes:  Chironia baccifera has a berry-like fruit.

References and publications

Schoch, E. 1903. Monographie der Gattung Chironia. Beih. Bot. Centralbl. 14: 177-242.

Struwe, L., J. W. Kadereit, J. Klackenberg, S. Nilsson, M. Thiv, K. B. von Hagen, & V. A. Albert. 2002. Systematics, character evolution, and biogeography of Gentianaceae, including a new tribal and subtribal classification. Pp. 21-309. In: L. Struwe & V. A. Albert (eds.), Gentianaceae: Systematics and Natural History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

 

Links

Chironia linoides, plantxafrica.com [horticulture, distribution, description]

Chironia photos, PlantWeb [photos]

  Lena Struwe, 2003

 

Gentian Research Network, 2002-2011.
For corrections and additions, contact Lena Struwe at struwe@aesop.rutgers.edu