Kew Bulletin

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 171–174

Hyptis maya, a new species of Lamiaceae from Belize, Central America, and the closely related H. lanceolata


    • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Post-graduate Programme in Botany, Depto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Estadual de Feira de Santana

DOI: 10.1007/s12225-011-9256-1

Cite this article as:
Harley, R.M. Kew Bull (2011) 66: 171. doi:10.1007/s12225-011-9256-1


A new species of Lamiaceae from Belize: Hyptis maya is described and illustrated. It is closely related to the more widespread H. lanceolata Poir., with which it is compared.

Key words

BelizeCentral AmericaHyptisLamiaceaenew species

Hyptis lanceolata Poir. (Lamiaceae) is a widespread and rather variable species in tropical America, belonging to sect. Hyptis subsect. Marrubiastrae. It has a somewhat ruderal distribution, growing in usually humid soils, often in clearings in forest zones. It occurs both in the New World and in Tropical Africa, where both introduced plants and what appear to be native populations are recorded (Harley 2006). In his revision of the genus Hyptis, Epling (1949) unfortunately, treated the distribution of widespread species in a very cursory manner, so that some of the more intriguing phytogeographical data are not recorded. This is particularly the case with Hyptis lanceolata. In the Neotropics, the species is recorded from the Caribbean, both in the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Guadeloupe, Martinique), in the Lesser Antilles (Dominica and St Vincent) and in Trinidad. The species is also frequent in the Guianas, rare in Venezuela, and extends into Brazil, rather uncommonly in Amazonia, but somewhat more frequently, with a scattered distribution through eastern Brazil as far south as Paraná. In the southern part of its range, it becomes more variable and occasionally seems to merge into other species, as for example, into Hyptis inodora Schrank, in eastern Brazil. Indeed, H. lanceolata has been shown to be part of a polyploid species complex, where hybridisation may not be uncommon, and the group undoubtedly merits further study (Harley & Heywood 1992).

While preparing an account of Central American Hyptis species for Flora Mesoamericana, I was particularly interested in the very few, and often ambiguous records of H. lanceolata from this area. In an account of the Labiatae of the Yucatan Peninsula (Epling 1940), the author lists H. lanceolata, citing three specimens: Gentle 1049, Bartlett 11318 and Schipp 696. While commenting that these “seem to fall within the limits of this variable species”, he notes that the calyx teeth (termed “lobes” in this paper) are longer and more acute than is generally true of that complex and the leaves are unusually narrow. Later, in his revision of the genus (Epling 1949), these same specimens are cited again under H. lanceolata. However, they were obviously causing some problems in the mind of the author, as Bartlett 11318 is also cited under H. actinocephala Griseb. in the same work, with the following comment (translated from the published Spanish): “A specimen very similar to these (cited specimens from Cuba) although possibly an extreme form of H. savannarum has been collected in British Honduras (now Belize), Cornhouse Creek, 31.I.1931, by Bartlett (N° 11318)”. There is also a specimen of Schipp 696 determined as H. savannarum Briq. by Epling in G and K. Neither of these determinations is correct, however. A duplicate of Bartlett 11318 in S was examined by me, some years ago, and determined as H. conferta Pohl ex Benth., related to, but distinct from H. savannarum. H. conferta, H. actinocephala and H. savannarum are all members of subsect. Hyptis, distinguished by the dense ring of hairs mid-way inside the calyx tube, a character lacking in subsect. Marrubiastrae, which includes H. lanceolata, as well as both Gentle 1049 and Schipp 696, cited by Epling.

Since then, a number of other specimens from Belize, have come to my attention, and all show the same distinguishing characters: notably the narrow leaves and the longer calyx lobes (see Table 1). In view of this, I here propose to recognise it as a distinct species, though one obviously forming part of the complex of species associated with Hyptis lanceolata. The name chosen is Hyptis mayasp. nov. An alternative name: Hyptis belizensis also suggested itself, but the name has already been published by Lundell (Lundell 1942), to apply to Gentle 3896, which I have examined and found to be H. conferta var. angustata (Briq.) A. Pool & Harley, a member of sect. Hyptis subsect. Hyptis. For some of the characters by which H. maya differs from H. lanceolata see Table 1.
Table 1

Characters distinguishing Hyptis lanceolata and H. maya.

Character (mm)

H. lanceolata

H. maya

Leaf lamina width

16 – 42

9 – 19

Capitulum diam.

8 – 15

11 – 18

Calyx at anthesis: total length

3.0 – 3.5

3.3 – 4.6

Calyx at anthesis: tube length

1.5 – 1.6

1.9 – 2.7

Calyx at anthesis: lobe length

1.0 – 1.5

1.3 – 2.6

Fruiting calyx: total length

4.5 – 5.0

6.0 – 6.7

Fruiting calyx: tube length

3.0 – 3.5

4.0 – 4.3

Fruiting calyx: lobe length

1.2 – 1.5

1.5 – 2.6

Corolla tube length

2.5 – 3.5

3.0 – 5.2

Nutlet length



Hyptis mayaHarleysp. nov., H. lanceolatae Poir. affinis a qua imprimis differt lamina foliorum angustiore (9 – 19 mm), capitulis latioribus (11 – 18 m diam.) et floribus majoribus calyce per anthesin 3.3 – 4.6 mm longo, lobis 1.3 – 2.6 mm longis, calyce fructificante 6.0 – 6.7 mm longo. Typus: Belize, Maskall Pine Ridge, Jan. 1934, P. H. Gentle 1049 (holotypus K!).

Perennial herb, stems to 1 m, 3 – 4 mm diam., erect, unbranched or often branched above, quadrangular with thickened angles, sparsely hairy, with antrorsely curved, rigid hairs, especially on angles, and numerous sunken, sessile glands more frequent on faces. Cauline leaves opposite, ± sessile, lamina 5.7 – 10.2 × 0.9 – 1.9 cm, narrowly lanceolate, narrowing to acute apex, base long-attenuate, membranous, margin serrate to serrulate, sometimes pink-tinged, upper surface sparsely hairy with short, weakly appressed to curved, acute hairs and numerous sessile, sunken glands, midrib and primary veins impressed, densely and shortly strigulose-hairy, lower surface sparsely hairy between veins, with longer, slender hairs and numerous, small, sunken, sessile glands, veins prominulous, pale, rather densely hairy with appressed, strigulose hairs; petiole absent or up to 2 mm long, hairy. Inflorescence of pedunculate, hemispherical capitula, borne singly in the axils of leaf-like bracts in the upper part of stem, bracts similar to leaves, but diminishing in size toward stem apex, peduncles 10 – 25 mm long, hairy, with antrorsely curved or weakly appressed hairs, capitula 11 – 18 mm diam., pale green, becoming spherical, many-flowered, bracteoles of involucre to 6.5 – 8.5  ×  1.3 – 2.4 mm, lanceolate, outer 3-nerved, ciliate especially toward base, spreading at anthesis. Flowers with pedicels 0.5 mm long, with long, erect hairs from base, calyx at anthesis 3.3 – 4.6 mm long, tube narrowly funnel-shaped, 1.9 – 2.7 mm long, with lobes 1.3 – 2.6 mm long, slightly unequal, narrowly subulate, ciliate, sinus weakly ciliate, calyx in fruit 6.0 – 6.7 mm long, tube 4.0 – 4.3 mm long, cylindrical, externally glabrous except for zone of long, weak, spreading to ascending hairs in mid-tube and sparse sessile glands throughout, internally sparsely hairy in upper half, with short, curved hairs, lobes 1.5 – 2.5 mm long, slightly unequal, narrowly subulate with posterior lobe longer and broader, ciliate toward base, sinus weakly ciliate; corolla white, often pink-spotted, rarely purplish-tinged, 4.5 – 7.0 mm long, tube 3.0 – 5.2 mm long, slender, 1.2 mm diam. Nutlets 1.2 × 0.5 – 0.6 mm elongate-oblong, black or dark brown, smooth to minutely striato-rugulose, scarcely mucilaginous when wet. (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1

A – KHyptis maya.A habit; B cauline leaves showing adaxial surface; C indumentum detail, adaxial surface of leaf; D indumentum detail, abaxial surface of leaf; E capitulum with peduncle; F flower side view; G calyx displayed to show internal surface; H calyx displayed to show external surface; J fruiting calyx side view; K nutlet. L – PHyptis lanceolata.L nutlets (immature nutlet on right); M cauline leaves showing adaxial surface; N capitulum with peduncle; P calyx displayed to show external surface. A – K from Gentle 1049 (type); L, M from Sastre 6317; N, P from Delnatte & Girod 247. drawn by margaret tebbs.

Distribution. Belize. Widespread, occurring in Orange Walk District (north), Cayo District (west), Belize and Stann Creek Districts (east), and Toledo District (south). Although apparently endemic, the species will probably eventually be found in neighbouring countries, especially Guatemala and Mexico (Quintana Roo and Campeche) and Honduras, although I have seen no material of Hyptis maya from any of these.

All of the following specimens cited have been seen by the author. Herbarium codes follow Index Herbariorum (Web version Index Herbariorum. See:

Belize. All Pines, 14 Jan. 1931, Schipp, W. A. 696 (BM, F, K); Belize Distr.: Colonel English Pine Ridge, Belize  −  Cayo Road, 23 Nov. 1957, P. H. Gentle 9441 (F); Ridge Lagoon Plantation, Mile 11 on Northern Bay, savanna near sea level, 18 Jan. 1974, R. Liesner & J. Dwyer 1430 (F). Belize Distr.: Western Highway mile 30. The Place, 24 April 1981, Whitefoord, C. 2623 (BM); Belize Distr.: Western Highway mile 30. Parrots Wood, 3 May 1981, Whitefoord, C. 2705 (BM); Belize R.: Little Cocquericot, 1 May 1933, Lundell, C. L. 4285 (K photo); Augustine Creek, 26 Oct. 1959, Hunt, D. R. 168 (BM); Cayo Distr. Ceibo Grande to Main Divide track, 740 m, 8 March 2000, Monro, A. et al. 3228 (BM); Maskall Pine Ridge, Jan. 1934, Gentle, P. H. 1049 (K); Cayo Distr.: Ceibo Chico, 700 m, 7 March 2000, Pena, M. et al. 983 (BM); Stann Creek Distr.: Mullins R. Road, in pine ridge, 29 Nov. 1957, P. H. Gentle 8477 (F); Humming Bird Gap, Humming Bird Highway, 1 Feb. 1957, P. H. Gentle 9323 (F). Toledo Distr.: between foothills of Maya Mts at Chun Bank (mouth of canyon of Bladen Branch) and the Southern Highway, 70 m, 14 March 1987, Davidse, G. & Brant, A. E. 32495 (K, MO, C); sin. loc. sin dat. Peck s.n. (K); Orange Walk Distr.: Between London and Carmelita, along old Northern Highway 50, 20 March 1987, Davidse, G. & Brant, A. E. 32812 (MO). All citations of specimens refer to material seen by the author.

Habitat. Usually wet savanna, creek margins, pinelands, near sea level – 750 m.

Phenology. Flowering and fruiting Jan. to May.

Conservation. Further field observations are necessary, but at present, judging from recent collections, the species is not under threat and merits Least Concern status.


I should like to thank the Curator and staff of the Herbarium of the Natural History Museum London (BM), of the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (E), the Herbarium of the Field Museum, Chicago, USA and the Herbarium, National Museum, Copenhagen, (C) Denmark. My visit to the last is due to a generous grant from Synthesys. I should also like to thank Amy Pool, Missouri Botanical Garden, for kindly providing images of important collections, Margaret Tebbs for producing the excellent illustration, Lesley Walsingham for much help especially with plate digitisation and to the anonymous reviewers for their useful comments.

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© The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 2011