Southern Africa is an important distribution centre for the family Asteraceae as well as for the tribe Gnaphalieae. For this tribe it houses 24% of the world’s species. More remarkable is that 75% of the Gnaphalieae genera in southern Africa and as many as 96% of the species are endemic.

The key covers 58 species (including subspecies) of the Macowania and Relhania groups in the tribe Gnaphalieae. All species are endemic to southern Africa except for 2 species of Leysera. All species have yellow ray and disc florets and brown chaffy or cartilaginous involucral bracts in several rows. It includes the genera: Antithrixia DC., Arrowsmithia DC., Comborhiza Anderberg & Bremer, Leysera L., Macowania Oliv., Nestlera Spreng., Oedera L., Oreolysera Bremer, Relhania L’Herit., Rhynchopsidium DC. and Rosenia Thunb.

Tips to use the key and traps to avoid

Upon opening the key there will be four blocks on the screen (two rows and two columns): in the left column the features (characters and character states) and in the right column the entities (species). By choosing character states (click on the state), one eliminates species from the list that do not possess that state. Selected characters and discarded species will appear in the lower blocks. Continue selecting character states until you are left with one or a few species in the top right hand block. A quick way to help choose a character is to use the ‘BEST’ option of the key. This will repeatedly select the best character to distinguish between the remaining species.

Each species has a thumbnail image attached to assist with quick visual assessment but for more information (distribution map, descriptive text, photographs), open the Fact Sheet. You can also browse the Fact Sheets to learn more about the genus.

You can start with any character, but we recommend you start with the most obvious character, e.g. colour of involucral bracts, plant height, leaf shape (if distinct) or any other obviously striking character that you can describe with certainty. Then move on to the other characters.

Although ‘Flowering time’ and ‘Distribution’ are very useful characters to narrow down an initial search, it is important to keep in mind that the specimen at hand may have a new distribution or flowering record and could be eliminated.