Erect shrub, 1-3 m, prickly or unarmed. Young stems terete, moderately to densely stellate-pubescent and prickly or unarmed, with multangulate sessile or variously stalked trichomes, the stalks 0.1-0.3 mm long, the rays 10-30, 0.05-0.2 mm long, the midpoints ca. same length as the rays, sometimes with glands at the tips, with minute simple hairs, the prickles 2-7 mm long, 1.5-10 mm wide at base, straight, conical, the base inflated on older stems, perpendicular to the stem, pale orange to brown, glabrous to stellate-pubescent in the lower 2/3, spaced 3-15 mm apart; bark of older stems glabrescent to moderately stellate-pubescent, pale brown to gray or brown.
Sympodial units plurifoliate.
Leaves simple, the blades (1.5-)4-10(-16) cm long, (1-)2-5.5(-6.5) cm wide, 1.5-2.5 times longer than wide, ovate, chartaceous, drying, strongly or sometimes weakly discolorous; adaxial surface yellow-green to dark brown, glabrescent; abaxial surface whitish, moderately or sometimes weakly stellate-pubescent, with porrect to multangulate, sessile or stalked trichomes, the stalks to 0.15 mm long, the rays 4-20, 0.1-0.5 mm long, the midpoints ca. same length as the rays, sometimes gland-tipped, sometimes with simple hairs to 0.4 mm long, unarmed on both surfaces; the primary veins 4-6(-8) pairs, the tertiary venation not visible to the naked eye or visible abaxially; base rounded, sometimes cuneate; margins entire or sometimes subentire; apex acute, sometimes obtuse or acuminate, usually finely rounded at the tip; petiole (0.4-)1-2.5(-5) cm long, (1/6-)1/4-1/3(-1/2) of the leaf blade length, moderately or sometimes weakly stellate-pubescent, with 0(-2) prickles.
Inflorescences apparently terminal or lateral, (2-)4-11 cm long, with primary and secondary branching, sometimes not branched, with (4-)10-30 flowers, (1-)3-10 flowers open at any one time, moderately or sometimes weakly stellate-pubescent, unarmed; peduncle (1-)15-45 mm long; pedicels 0.4-1(-1.5) cm long, erect to recurved, articulated at the base, weakly to moderately stellate-pubescent, sometimes with glandular midpoints elongated to 0.4 mm, unarmed; pedicel scars spaced 1-5 mm apart.
Flowers 4-5(-6)-merous, apparently all perfect. Calyx 2.5-5 mm long, moderately or sometimes sparsely stellate-pubescent, unarmed, the lobes 1-2 mm long, deltate, apically obtuse to acute. Corolla 1.2-2 cm in diameter, mauve, sometimes white, stellate, lobed for 2/3-3/4 of the way to the base, the lobes 5-9 mm long, 2-3.5 mm wide, narrow-deltate, reflexed or spreading, sparsely stellate-pubescent abaxially, the trichomes multangulate, sessile, the rays 8-20, 0.1-0.2 mm long, the midpoints ca. same length as the rays. Stamens equal, with the filament tube 0.7-1 mm long, the free portion of the filaments 0.2-1 mm long; anthers 4-6 mm long, connivent, tapering, poricidal at the tips. Ovary glabrous with minute simple hairs at the apex; style 0.6-1 cm long, filiform, straight or gently curved, glabrous with simple trichomes near the base.
Fruit a spherical berry, (1-)5-40 per infructescence, 0.55-0.9 cm in diameter, the pericarp smooth, evenly green or sometimes pale green with dark green markings when young, red at maturity, glabrous; fruiting pedicels 0.8-1.5 cm long, 0.4-0.9 mm in diameter at base, herbaceous to woody, erect, unarmed; fruiting calyx lobes not elongating, 1/3-1/2 the length of the mature fruit, reflexed, unarmed.
Seeds ca. 8-15 per berry, 2.5-4.5 mm long, 2-3.5 mm wide, flattened-reniform, dull yellow to orange-brown.
Calyx 2.5–6 mm long, 3–6 mm across, somewhat accrescent, campanulate or cupular, tomentose to slightly hairy; lobes 1–3.5 × (0.7)1–2 mm, lanceolate to shortly ovate-triangular or broadly obovate, rounded to narrowly ± long-acuminate or apiculate, in fruit enlarged to 5 × 2 mm, curved out at the apex, ± reflexed.
Corolla bluish to pale violet or lilacineous to purple, occasionally white, rotate to stelliform; limb 6–22 mm across; lobes 4–11 × 1.5–4.5 mm, oblong-ovate to linear, acute or obtuse, hairy outside mainly on the median part, glabrous except for a few stellate hairs scattered along the midvein or only near the apex inside, erect to reflexed.
Cymes becoming lateral, but often somewhat aggregated towards the ends of the branches, unbranched to several times forked, ± umbelliform, corymbiform or paniculiform, 3–5 cm across, often congested, few–many-flowered, hairy like the branches; peduncle from nearly none to 2.5(3) cm long, unarmed or sometimes with a few prickles basally; rhachis 0.7–4.5 cm long.
Flowers 4–5(7)-merous, ± nodding; pedicels 3–13 mm long, ± slender, in fruit elongated to 18 mm, somewhat thickened distally, erect.
Fruits shining brown-yellow or reddish to deep red when ripe, 5–10 mm in diameter, globose, soft.
Branches off-white tomentose, very gradually glabrescent, with scattered prickles, occasionally unarmed.
Seeds ± numerous, pale yellow or creamy, drying blackish, (2.5)3–3.5(4) × 2–3 mm, compressed, obliquely reniform, reticulate-tuberculate.
Semi-woody herb or shrub, sometimes straggling, or rarely a small tree, up to 3(4) m high, normally armed; sympodia difoliate; hairs predominantly stellate, ± sessile, either small and eglandular or larger (more than 0.5 mm across) with rays from a glandular centre, the central ray sometimes extended, also with simple hairs glandular at the apex; prickles pale yellowish, 1–4(5) mm long, 0.5–3 mm wide at the base, laterally compressed, broad based, straight or ± curved, tomentose from the base to about the middle to quite glabrous.
Stamen filaments 0–1.5 mm long; anthers 4–7 mm long, lanceolate or elliptic-lanceolate in outline, somewhat emarginate at the apex, converging to a tube.
Leaves solitary or appearing geminate, sometimes rather closely set at the ends of the branches; petiole 0.4–4 cm long, rarely with 1–several prickles; lamina membranous or somewhat sub fleshy, 1.5–14 × 0.5–8 cm, lanceolate to ovate or ovate-elliptic, base rounded to cuneate, narrowing into the petiole and ± unequal-sided, apex obtuse-rounded to acute or ± acuminate, repand-sinuate to entire, tomentose, soon ± glabrescent and becoming sparsely hairy above, remaining densely hairy beneath, very rarely with one or few prickles on the midrib, with 4–7 pairs of lateral nerves.
Ovary (0.6)1–1.5 mm in diameter, ± globose or ellipsoid, glabrous except for few minute glands near the apex and occasionally also with stellate hairs; style 5–11 mm long, exceeding the stamens, straight or somewhat curved at the apex, glabrous or with few minute glands near the base.
Shrub, 1.2-1.5 m high. Branches unarmed or with few small spines. Leaves entire, minute stellately hairy, glabrescent. Flowers in peduncled cymes. Corolla 17-20 mm in diameter, lobes linear. Fruits red. Flowers white or mauve.
Erect, semi-woody herb or shrub, laxly to much branched from base, sometimes scrambling, up to 3 m high; covered with grey to yellowish/brownish dense tomentum of ± sessile, short-radiate, stellate hairs, or bearing a long central ray, sometimes apically glandular, minute to large hairs all over (at least when young), and also of simple, apically glandular, spreading hairs sparsely intermixed, then pruinose, finally glabrous on some parts; prickles few to many, laterally compressed, broad-based, straight or curved, ± stout, pale yellow to brown, 1-5 mm long, stellate-tomentose in lower half or glabrous, sometimes absent; sympodia difoliate. Stems and branches ± terete, glabrescent, bark smooth to ± rough, pale yellow/brown-grey to dark grey, sometimes with conspicuous lenticels. Leaves solitary or appearing geminate, sometimes closely set at terminals; petiole 4-40 mm long, densely to ± hairy, prickles usually absent; lamina membranous, papery, leathery or ± fleshy, ± discolorous, obovate to lanceolate, 15-140 x 5-80 mm, apex obtuse-rounded to ± acuminate, base rounded to cuneate, narrowing into the petiole, ± unequal, with 4-7 pairs of curved-ascending lateral nerves, greyish/yellowish below, tomentose to subglabrescent; green above, stellate-hairy to glabrescent; rarely 1-few prickles on midrib; margins repand-sinuate to entire. Inflorescences terminal, cymes becoming lateral, unbranched to several times forked, 30-50 mm across, few to many-flowered, often dense; peduncle 0-30 mm long; rachis 7-45 mm long. Flowers 4 or 5(-7)-merous, ± nodding; pedicels 3-13 mm long, elongated in fruit, up to 18 mm long, ± thickened distally, erect. Calyx greyish/yellowish, densely to ± hairy outside, 2.5-6.0 x 3-6 mm, ± accrescent, campanulate or cupular; lobes lanceolate to broadly obovate, 1.0-3.5 x 1-2 mm, apically rounded, long-acuminate, 5 x 2 mm in fruit, ± reflexed, glabrous inside. Corolla white to mauve, blue, violet or purple, 6-13 mm long, ± rotate; limb 6-22 mm across, lobes oblong-ovate to linear, 4-11 x 1.5-4.5 mm, apex acute/obtuse, greyish or whitish hairy outside, mainly on median part, mostly glabrous inside, erect to reflexed. Stamens ± equal, glabrous, exserted; filaments 0-1.5 mm long, whitish; anthers yellow to orange-yellow, 4-7 mm long, ± lanceolate in outline, opening by 2 small, oblique pores. Ovary globose/ellipsoid, 1.0-1.5 mm diam./length, glabrous; style 5-11 mm long, slender, longer than stamens, straight or ± apically curved, glabrous; stigma small, capitate, obtuse or slightly 2-lobed. Fruits globose, 5-10 mm diam., green turning yellow-brown to deep red when ripe, fleshy, glossy, glabrous, in axillary clusters or pseudo-terminal cymes. Seeds numerous, compressed, obliquely reniform, reticulate-tuberculate, 3.0-3.5 x 2-3 mm, ± pale yellow, drying blackish.
Mid-elevation areas of sub-Saharan Africa from Ethiopia to Transvaal; growing in Acacia (Vachellia)-Commiphora bushland, Brachystegia woodland, savanna, open areas and on rocky slopes, common on termite mounds; (450-) 650 – 1600 m elevation.
Local Names. Somalia: Amba Orbey (O’Brien 185). Kenya: Karithi or Karidi (Bally & Smith B14457), Mukondu (Kamba language, Van Someren 159/275), Mutongatongu (Kamba language, Mwangani & Napper 1345), Mutongatonga (Kitui, Gardner 3692), Muthugi (Graham 2256), Loptwo Kaner (Pokot language, Meyerhoff 69M), Loputwa (Pokot, Timberlake 504), Chuchwen (PokotMeyerhoff 136M), Dongadongo (Kikamba language, Bally 7785). Uganda: Ekujon (Hudson 191). Tanzania: Mupwa (Irangi language, Burtt 1443), Ndura (Kihehe language, Greenway & Kanuri 13949).
Uses. Of limited medicinal use in Kenya and Botswana.