The families of flowering plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Calochortaceae Dum.

~ Liliaceae-Lilioideae.

Habit and leaf form. Erect, often slender herbs (the stem with only one, basal foliage leaf, or this plus a few reduced cauline leaves, in addition to the bracts). ‘Normal’ plants. Perennial; bulbaceous. Leaves alternate; flat; sessile; sheathing; simple. Lamina entire; linear; parallel-veined; without cross-venules. Leaf development presumably ‘graminaceous’.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral. Stomata present; anomocytic. The mesophyll without crystals (according to Goldblatt 1995). Foliar vessels absent.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. The axial xylem without vessels.

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the perianth (from conspicuous glands at the bases of the inner tepals).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. Inflorescences terminal; simple or branched racemes; espatheate. Flowers long pedicelled, bracteate; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube absent. Hypogynous disk absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla, or of ‘tepals’; 6; free; 2 whorled; isomerous; when not resolvable into calyx and corolla, petaloid; spotted; different in the two whorls (the outer members narrower, glabrous, and either green and sepaloid or like the inner whorl in colour, the inner members broad, cuneate or clawed, often fringed or ciliate and sometimes bearded). Calyx when recognisable as such, 3; 1 whorled; polysepalous; regular. Corolla 3; 1 whorled; polypetalous; regular; yellow, or red, or pink; plain, or with contrasting markings (often spotted or streaked). Petals clawed, or sessile; fringed (often, or ciliate), or entire.

Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth to adnate (inserted at the bases of the tepals); free of one another; 2 whorled (3+3). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6; isomerous with the perianth; alterniperianthial; filantherous (the filaments dilated). Anthers pseudo-basifixed — the tip of the filament enclosed by a tubular part of the connective, cf. Tulipa; dehiscing via longitudinal slits. Pollen grains aperturate; 1 aperturate; sulcate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious; superior. Ovary 3 locular. Gynoecium non-stylate to stylate. Styles if detectable 1; apical; much shorter than the ovary (very short or obsolete). Stigmas 3; dry type. Placentation axile. Ovules 30–50 per locule (‘many’); in two rows; anatropous; bitegmic; tenuinucellate (i.e. without a parietal cell, cf. Liliaceae). Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule (three-winged or -angled). Capsules septicidal. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm containing fat and aleurone. Seeds lanceolate to circular, usually flattened. Embryo well differentiated. Testa without phytomelan.

Seedling. Hypocotyl internode present (short). Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll variously elongated, or compact; assimilatory, or non-assimilatory; more or less circular in t.s. to dorsiventrally flattened (bifacial). Coleoptile absent. First leaf dorsiventral.

Physiology, phytochemistry. Alkaloids at least sometimes present (in the seeds).

Geography, cytology. Holarctic. Temperate. North and Central America. X = 7–20.

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Liliiflorae; Liliales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; non-commelinid Monocot; Order Liliales (as a synonym of Liliaceae).

Species 60. Genera 1; only genus, Calochortus.

General remarks. Differing from Liliaceae sensu stricto (q.v.) in habit, plus 5 characters involving the androecium, fruit and embryology.

Illustrations. • Calochortus alba: as Cyclobothria, Bot. Reg. 1661, 1835. • Calochortus luteus: as Cyclobothria, Bot. Reg. 1663, 1835. • Calochortus pulchellus: as Cyclobothria, Bot. Reg. 1662, 1835. • Calochortus splendens: Bot. Reg. 1676, 1835. • Calochortus venustus: Bot. Reg. 1669, 1835.


This description is offered for casual browsing only. We strongly advise against extracting comparative information from it. This is much more easily achieved using 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).

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 August 2014. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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