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Vascular Plants of California
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Commelina benghalensis

Higher Taxonomy
Family: CommelinaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, generally glabrous. Stem: prostrate to erect or climbing; nodes often rooting. Leaf: alternate, entire, simple, linear to ovate, closed basal sheath or lower leaf clasping stem. Inflorescence: cyme, umbel-like or not, terminal or terminal and axillary, subtended by 1--2 bracts [not]. Flower: generally bisexual, bilateral or radial, generally insect-pollinated; sepals 3, generally green; petals 3, blue, white, rose, purple, or pale violet, generally ephemeral; stamens 6 (3 sterile or not), filaments generally slender, often hairy; ovary superior, chambers 3, style 1. Fruit: generally capsule. Seed: 1--few per chamber.
Genera In Family: 40 genera, +- 630 species: especially tropics, subtropics some cultivated as ornamental.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Elizabeth McClintock
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: CommelinaView Description 

Habit: Annual [perennial herb]. Inflorescence: flowers 1 or in few-flowered clusters, subtended by 1 +- leaf-like bract. Flower: bilateral; 2 petals larger, [generally blue or] pale violet, 1 smaller, paler; filaments glabrous.
Etymology: (Jan, 1629--1692, and nephew Kaspar, 1667--1731, Commelijn, Holland)
Unabridged Note: According to Linnaeus (1737, Critica Botanica; pp. 62--63 in translation by A. Hort, 1938) and Tucker (1989, Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 70:97--130) the genus was named for 3 members of the Commelijn family, 2 of whom (Jan and Kaspar) became famous botanists and are represented by the 2 large, showy petals; the third member (Kaspar, Jr., 1700--1734, son of Kaspar) died without having accomplished anything in Botany and is represented by the third, small, not showy petal. According to Tucker, Wijnands (1983, The Botany of the Commelins. viii + 232 pp. 64 pls. Rotterdam) contends that the genus name actually was adopted by Plumier, who probably was not aware of Kaspar, Jr.
Unabridged Reference: Faden 2000 FNANM 22:192--197; Maheshwari & Maheshwari 1955 Phytomorphology 5:413--422
Commelina benghalensis L.
Habit: Annual. Stem: ascending to decumbent or occasionally straggling, nodes rooting. Leaf: 2--9 cm, ovate to lance-elliptic; sheath with +- red hairs at tip; margins generally wavy, hairy. Flower: of 2 kinds, on upper stem open, +- 1 cm diam, on underground stems cleistogamous. Fruit: 4--6 mm.
Ecology: Disturbed areas; Elevation: < 610 m. Bioregional Distribution: SCo; Distribution Outside California: tropical weed; native to tropical Asia, Africa. Flowering Time: May--Sep Note: Ornamental; persisting near former residences, establishing from yard waste, escaping from cultivation.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Elizabeth McClintock
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Elizabeth McClintock 2012, Commelina benghalensis, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 18, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 18, 2024.

No expert verified images found for Commelina benghalensis.

Geographic subdivisions for Commelina benghalensis:
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).