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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Barringtoniaceae Rudolphi

~ Lecythidaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Trees, or shrubs (rarely). Leaves alternate; spiral (but often pseudoverticillate or tufted); petiolate; not gland-dotted; simple. Lamina entire; usually oblanceolate; pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins entire, or crenate, or dentate.

General anatomy. Plants with silica bodies.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata mainly confined to one surface (abaxial), or on both surfaces; anisocytic. Hairs present; eglandular; simple, unicellular, or multicellular. Adaxial hypodermis present, or absent. The mesophyll containing crystals. The crystals star-shaped druses.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secretory cavities absent. Cork cambium present; initially superficial. Primary vascular tissues in a cylinder, without separate bundles; collateral. Internal phloem absent. Cortical bundles present (these orientated with the xylem on the outside). Medullary bundles absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

The wood diffuse porous. The vessels small, or medium. The vessel end-walls usually simple. The vessels without vestured pits; with spiral thickening, or without spiral thickening. The axial xylem without fibre tracheids; with libriform fibres; including septate fibres, or without septate fibres. The fibres without spiral thickening. The parenchyma typically apotracheal and paratracheal. The secondary phloem stratified into hard (fibrous) and soft (parenchymatous) zones, or not stratified (?). ‘Included’ phloem absent. The wood not storied.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (usually); when solitary, terminal; when aggregated, in racemes, or in corymbs. The ultimate inflorescence units racemose. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary; racemes or corymbs, often elongated. Flowers medium-sized to large; regular to very irregular; when irregular, asymmetric. The floral irregularity involving the androecium, or involving the perianth and involving the androecium. Flowers cyclic; pentacyclic, or polycyclic. Free hypanthium present to absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; (6–)8–12; 2 whorled; isomerous; different in the two whorls. Calyx (2–)4(–6); 1 whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous; when gamosepalous, blunt-lobed; calyptrate (rarely, in Barringtonia), or not calyptrate; imbricate (rarely calyptrate). Corolla 4(–6); 1 whorled; polypetalous, or gamopetalous (sometimes fused to the staminal cup); imbricate.

Androecium 50–100 (or more — i.e. ‘many’, giving the flowers a fluffy, myrtaceous appearance). Androecial members maturing centrifugally; free of the perianth, or adnate (to the corolla); coherent (the filaments basally united, usually in several series, often concentrated on one side of the flower by abortion of members); 1–20 adelphous (to ‘polyadelphous’); 3–5 whorled (‘in several series’). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes (sometimes including members lacking anthers). Stamens 20–100 (‘many’); polystemonous; inflexed in bud (or incurved). Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; latrorse; tetrasporangiate. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. Anther wall initially with more than one middle layer (two); of the ‘basic’ type. Tapetum amoeboid. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate (with a specialised marginal ridge); (syn-) colpate, or colporate (or colporoidate); 3-celled.

Gynoecium 2–4(–6) carpelled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth to isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 2–4(–6) celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; inferior. Ovary 2–4(–6) locular. Epigynous disk present (intrastaminal). Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 1. Placentation axile to apical. Ovules 2–50 per locule (to ‘many’); anatropous; unitegmic (?—Cronquist 1981), or bitegmic; tenuinucellate. Outer integument not contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit fleshy, or non-fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent; capsular-indehiscent (then broadly 4-winged), or a berry (then fibrous, usually one-seeded), or a capsule. Capsules sometimes circumscissile. Seeds non-endospermic; often woody and large. Embryo well differentiated.

Physiology, phytochemistry. Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins absent.

Geography, cytology. Paleotropical. Tropical. Palaeotropical. X = 13.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Tenuinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Theiflorae; Theales. Cronquist’s Subclass Dilleniidae; Lecythidales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Asteranae; Order Ericales (as a synonym of Lecythidaceae).

Species about 55. Genera 6; Abdulmajidia, Barringtonia, Careya, Chydenanthus, Combretodendron (= Petersianthus), Petersianthus, Planchonia.

General remarks. Morton et al. (1998) present these genera as subfamily Planchonioideae of an expanded Lecythidaceae, based on an assessment ‘using both molecular and morphological data’. Analyses of the descriptions compiled for this package have them differing from Lecythidaceae sensu stricto in basic chromosome number and in being palaeotropical, as well as in the non-stratified secondary phloem, less zygomorphic flowers, imbricate calyx, and 3-celled pollen grains.

Illustrations. • Careya arborea: R. Wight 2 (1850). • Technical details: Barringtonia (Thonner). • Technical details: Careya, Barringtonia (Lindley).


We advise against extracting comparative information from the descriptions. This is much more easily achieved using the DELTA data files or the interactive key, which allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, distributions of character states within any set of taxa, geographical distribution, genera included in each family, and classifications (Dahlgren; Dahlgren, Clifford, and Yeo; Cronquist; APG). See also Guidelines for using data taken from Web publications.


Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The families of flowering plants: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. Version: 19th October 2016. delta-intkey.com’.

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