Cercestis Schott
  • Oesterr. Bot. Wochenbl. 7: 414 (1857) 

Notes: Distribution: W. & WC. Trop. Africa to Uganda and Angola

General Description

Laticifers present, simple, articulated. HABIT : climbing herbs, small to robust, stem long, producing flagelliform shoots with long internodes and bearing only cataphylls, followed by thicker, flowering stems with several foliage leaves and short internodes. LEAVES : many. PETIOLE : geniculate apically, geniculum sometimes inconspicuous, sheath short to long. BLADE : oblong-lanceolate or oblong to cordate, sagittate, or hastate, or trifid with acuminate segments, sometimes laciniate-pinnatifid with slit-like perforations extending to margin forming large rhomboid to obtriangular lobes (C. camerunensis, C. mirabilis), resin glands pellucid, linear or punctate; primary lateral veins pinnate, running into marginal vein, higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : usually 1-4 in each floral sympodium (up to 16 in C.camerunensis). PEDUNCLE : shorter than spathe. SPATHE : erect, thick, boat-shaped to subcylindric, convolute basally into a tube, gaping apically at anthesis, not constricted, persistent to marcescent. SPADIX : sessile, shorter than spathe, female zone shorter and contiguous with male. FLOWERS : unisexual, perigone absent. MALE FLOWER : 2-4-androus, stamens prismatic, slightly narrowed basally, usually short and relatively broad, sometimes rather long and narrow (C. camerunensis, C. mirabilis), filament very short, connective broad, thecae shortly oblong to linear, dehiscing by small apical slit. POLLEN : extruded in strands, inaperturate, ellipsoid to oblong or spherical to subspheroidal, medium-sized (mean ca. 40 µm., range 36-55 µm.), exine obscurely fossulate-verrucate, or almost perfectly psilate (C. camerunensis, C. mirabilis). FEMALE FLOWER : ovary obovoid, 1-locular, ovule 1, hemianatropous to anatropous, rarely campylotropous (C. taiensis), funicle very short, placenta parietal to subbasal, stigma sessile to subsessile, often rather broad, discoid, often somewhat concave centrally. BERRY : infructescence ellipsoid to oblong, berries obovoid to subglobose or ellipsoid, red, pericarp thick. SEED : obovoid to ellipsoid, testa smooth, thin, embryo large, outer cell layer green, endosperm absent.

Diagnostic Description

Climbing hemi-epiphytes or creeping terrestrials; petiole rather weakly geniculate apically; leaf blade with resin canals and reticulate fine venation; spadix sessile, fertile to apex; female zone of spadix contiguous with male, flowers unisexual, perigone absent; stamens free; ovary 1-locular. Differs from Culcasia in producing flagelliform shoots with long internodes, leaf blades oblong-lanceolate to cordate, sagittate, hastate, trifid or laciniate-pinnatifid (in Culcasia leaf blades always simple, acute to rounded at base).


Tropical humid forest; climbing hemiepiphytes and terrestrial plants.


W. & WC. Trop. Africa to Uganda and Angola.


in Oest. Bot. Woehenbl. 7: 414 (1857); F.T.A. 8: 180; Engl., Pflanzenr. 4, 23C: 114 (1911).

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
Found in
  • Africa East Tropical Africa Uganda
  • South Tropical Africa Angola
  • West Tropical Africa Benin
  • Gambia, The
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ivory Coast
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Togo
  • West-Central Tropical Africa Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Congo
  • Gabon
  • Gulf of Guinea Is.
  • Zaire


  • 1 Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 2 Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. Continental Publishing, Deurne.
  • 3 F.n. Hepper (1968) Araceae. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3(1)
  • 4 Gardens, K.""Royal Bot World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. (2008).
  • 5 Mayo, S.J., Bogner, J. & Boyce, P.C. The Genera of Araceae. (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: 1997).

 Information From

CATE Araceae
Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 14 Dec 2011 . 17 Dec 2011.
  • A All Rights Reserved
Flora of West Tropical Aftrica (FWTA)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2004. eFloras: Iridaceae. [online] Available at: http://kew.org/efloras/ [Accessed 2013-08-02]
  • B All Rights Reserved
  • C http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • D All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
  • E Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • F See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.