The following blog was written by Rebecca Camfield a digitiser in the Herbarium.

Since 2021 we have increased our digitisation capacity with the goal of getting to 1 million specimens imaged by Autumn 2024. Each digitiser is assigned a family of plants to work through. This series of blogs will spotlight the families that have been completed by a member of the team.

Sphenocleaceae and Montiniaceae are two small families within the Solanales.


Sphenocleaceae consists of one genus, Sphenoclea. It is native to Africa and Southern Asia (Iraq to South China and down to Australia). It has been introduced to the Americas and Japan and likes damp tropical habits. Some common names include chickenspike, gooseweed and wedgewort.

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Specimen of Sphenoclea zeylanica collected in Gualpara, India in 1806 (E01033774)

Our Collections at Edinburgh

We hold 58 specimens of Sphenocleaceae, representing two species Sphenoclea zeylanica Gaertn. (56 specimens) and Sphenoclea dalzielii (2 specimens). S. zeylanica has a pan global distribution, whilst S. dalzielii is native to West Central Africa to Chad.

Top regions

No. of SpecimensHerbarium Filing Region
21India Bangladesh & Pakistan
6Inner China, Korea & Taiwan

We lack representation of S. dalzielii N.E.Br.  and the family could have better representation from Africa in general. There are also few recent collections, with the most recent being from the 1990s in SE Asia.

The specimens can be searched here.


Montiniaceae are native to Central and Southern Africa and Madagascar. The family contains 3 genera Grevea, Kaliphora and Montinia.

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Specimen of Montinia caryophyllacea, collected in South Africa in 2005 (E00667646)

Our Collections at Edinburgh

We hold 21 specimens of Montiniaceae with all three genera represented in the collection.

In Montinia we have collections of 1 species, collected from South Western Africa ( Angola down to the Cape). For Grevea we have collections represting 3 species from Central Africa and Madagascar. We have 1 species of Kaliphora in the collection, from Madagascar.

Specimens of Montinaceae can be searched here.