Aframomum K. Schum.
In: Engler Pflanzenreich IV.46: 201 (1904); Lock in Kew Bull. 35: 299-313 (1980) and Fl. Trop. East Afr., Zingiberac: 22-37 (1985), reg. rev.
The genus Aframomum was proposed by K. Schuman for some 40 species which, apart from those newly described, had previously been placed in Amomum. According to Schumann, the new genus was distinguished by the shape of the fruit and the trilobed anther connective. All the species were African, whereas the reformed genus Amomum was wholly Asiatic.
Schumann gave no formal subdivision of Aframomum, nor did he in any way indicate its type species.
The tilobed anther-crest of Aframomum does not provide a distinction from Amomum, many species of which have a similar crest. The fruit, however, which is flask-shaped and fleshy, unlike the ± spherical capsule of Amomum, and the presence of a few sterile bracts on the outside of the inflorescence are more reliable characters. The infructescence of Aframomum does not become elongated in the same manner as many Amomum. A. Angustifolium is a native of Madagascar but probably also occurs in southern central Africa. It is one of the minority of species in the genus which has a narrow labellum; another of these is the West African A. danielli. There are more numerous species which have a large suborbicular labellum, as shown in A. luteoalbum.
Burtt, B.L. & Smith, R.M. (1972a). Tentative keys to the subfamilies, tribes and genera of the Zingiberaceae. (From Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinb. 31: pp. 171-176)
Species of the genus Aframomum range from Senegal to Ethiopia in the north and Angola to Madagascar in the south. It is also found in the Gulf of Guinea islands, Sao Tome and Principe.
Ecology and Pollination Biology:
Aframomum species are usually found in light gaps and forest margins and is common along roads and in old fields. Some species, however, are ecologically specialized; for example, A. longilgulatum is known only from forests in Cameroon and the Central African Republic dominated by Giberiodendron dewevrei (DeWild.) J. Leonard. Another species, A. pseudostipulare, occurs only in seasonally flooded forest in the Congo River basin. One species (A. alboviolaceum) is found in savanna.
Common Names, Uses and Notes:
The genus Aframomum is well known in African forests because the bright red, fleshy fruit of several species contain a sweet juicy pulp and is eaten widely by primates and other mammals.
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