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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Cartonemataceae Pichon

~ Commelinaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Plants non-succulent (by contrast with Commelinaceae). Perennial; rhizomatous, or tuberous. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves deciduous; alternate; spiral; ‘herbaceous’; sessile; sheathing; simple. Lamina entire; linear; parallel-veined; without cross-venules. Leaf development ‘graminaceous’.

General anatomy. Plants with silica bodies, or without silica bodies.

Leaf anatomy. The mesophyll without crystals. Foliar vessels present (Triceratella), or absent (Cartonema); with scalariform end-walls.

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

The vessel end-walls scalariform.

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls reticulately perforated.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries absent (nectaries lacking). Pollination entomophilous (but without nectar).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes and in spikes. The ultimate inflorescence units racemose. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary, or leaf-opposed; simple or branched spikes or racemes. Flowers regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 6; free; 2 whorled; isomerous; different in the two whorls; yellow. Calyx 3; 1 whorled; gamosepalous. Corolla 3; 1 whorled; polypetalous; yellow; persistent (marcescent).

Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal; free of one another; 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6; diplostemonous. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Microsporogenesis successive. Pollen grains aperturate; 1 aperturate; sulcate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 3 locular. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 1; capitate. Placentation axile. Ovules 2 per locule; superposed; non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny asterad.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent; a capsule. Capsules loculicidal. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm not oily (mealy). Embryo weakly differentiated. Cotyledons 1. Testa operculate (with an ‘embryostega’, covering the embryo); without phytomelan.

Seedling. Hypocotyl internode absent. Mesocotyl present (at least in Cartonema). Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll compact; non-assimilatory. Coleoptile present. Seedling cataphylls absent. First leaf dorsiventral. Primary root ephemeral.

Physiology, phytochemistry. C3.

Geography, cytology. Tropical. Australia.

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Commeliniflorae; Commelinales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; commelinid Monocot; Order Commelinales (as a synonym of Commelinaceae?).

Species 6. Genera 2; Cartonema, Triceratella.

General remarks. Comparing these compiled descriptions offers differences from Commelinaceae involving 14 characters representing vegetative morphology and anatomy, inflorescence and ovule details, and seedling form.

Illustrations. • Cartonema spicatum: Bauer, Ill. Fl. Nov.-Holl. (1908).


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: 13th March 2017. delta-intkey.com/angio’.

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