Common Names:- None

Synonyms:- Torilis arvensis ssp. purpurea

Meaning:- Torilis. A meaningless name used by the French naturalist.
Michel Adanson.
                 Africana (L) African, from Africa                      
General description:- Very variable, usually erect, medium to tall, hairy annual.

Stem:- Up to 100 cm. Erect, with few branches.

Leaves:- Basal (often absent at maturity) pinnate, with deeply divided segments;
uppermost leaves 3-foliolate, with linear-lanceolate to linear segments, the central
segment very long; margin remotely serrate to subentire. More rarely upper and
lower leaves similar, but upper smaller and less divided.

Flowers:- Umbels reddish-purple, long-stalked, usually 3; bracts absent or one,
but secondary bracts usually numerous, small.

Fruit:- Ovoid, 3-6 mm; both mericarps spiny, or the outer spiny and the inner
tuberculate; rarely the whole fruit covered with tubercles.

Key features:-
1) Leaves coarsely divided; lobes at least 2 mm wide.
2) Styles 2-3 times as long as the stylopodium.
3) Outer petals only slightly radiate.
4) Rays (2-)3(-4), slender, usually forming an angle of 45-60.
5) Upper leaves usually with linear, remotely serrate to entire segments.
6) Fruit 4-5 mm.

Habitat:- Scrub. olive groves, road embankments and ruderal habitats. 0-800(-
1400) m.

Distribution:- Greece, S Europe and SW Asia, eastwards to Afghanistan.
Somewhat widely distributed across Crete more so in the west.

Flowering time:- Apr-Aug.

Photos by:- Zacharias Angourakis  

                         FAMILY and GENUS DESCRIPTIONS


General description:- Herbs, rarely shrubs.

Leaves:- Alternate; lamina usually large and much-divided; petiole often inflated
and sheathing at base. Stipules absent.

The primary divisions of the leaves are referred to as segments and the ultimate
divisions, cut nearly or quite to the midrib, as lobes. The lobes may themselves
sometimes be deeply lobed. The leaves are never truly pinnate, but are described
as pinnate, for brevity, when the lamina is divided to the midrib.

Flowers:- Inflorescence usually a compound umbel. Flowers epigynous, small,
hermaphrodite or unisexual, the plant rarely dioecious. Sepals usually small or
absent; petals 5, usually more or less 3-lobed, the middle lobe inflexed; outer
petals sometimes much larger than inner (radiate); stamens 5; carpels (1-)2,
usually attached to a central axis (carpophore), from which the mericarps separate
at maturity; styles (1-)2, often with a thickened base (stylopodium); ovule 1 in each
loculus, pendent.

Descriptions of umbels refer to the terminal, or other well-developed umbel: lateral
umbels are often smaller, with fewer rays, and may be entirely male. Bracts are the
structures which subtend the primary branches (rays) of a compound umbel, and
bracteoles are those which subtend the partial umbel, or the whole of a simple
umbel. When the stylopodium is described, the description refers to the
stylopodium of a hermaphrodite flower.

Fruit:- Dry; pericarp membranous or exocarp variously indurated; endocarp rarely
woody. Mericarps usually joined by a narrow or wide commissure; each mericarp
more or less compressed laterally or dorsally, with 5 longitudinal veins, usually with
ridges over them, separated by valleculae or sometimes with 4 secondary ridges
alternating with the primary; resin canals (vittae) usually present between the
primary ridges and on the commissural face.

Descriptions of the ridges of the fruit refer to the primary ridges, unless otherwise

Ripe fruit is essential for the certain identification of some genera, though with a
little experience the characters of the ripe fruit can often be deduced from a careful
examination of unripe fruit or even the ovary.


General description:- Annual, rarely biennial.

Leaves:- 1- to 3-pinnate, the segments jaggedly toothed.

Flowers:- Sepals small, rarely conspicuous, persistent. Petals white or pinkish;
apex inflexed.

Fruit:- Linear to ovoid, narrowed at the commissure. Ridges slender, ciliate, the
grooves between the ridges usually filled with spines or tubercles.

Key features:-
1) Fruit pubescent, hispid, or with prickles.
2) Outer mericarp of each fruit with straight prickles; inner mericarp tuberculate or
with short, conical projections.
3) Umbels long-pedunculate, not leaf-opposed.
4) Fruit without a distinct, glabrous beak; densely covered with stiff, rough, minutely
glochidiate bristles.