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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Coriariaceae DC.

Including Sarcoccaceae Dulac

Habit and leaf form. Shrubs (mostly, or subshrubs), or trees (a few); not resinous. Leaves opposite, or whorled (rarely spiral); leathery; simple. Lamina entire; lanceolate to ovate; palmately veined to parallel-veined; cross-venulate. Leaves stipulate. Stipules caducous (minute). Lamina margins entire, or dentate (obscurely). Vegetative buds scaly.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral (with two-layered palisade). Stomata present; on both surfaces (but mostly abaxial); paracytic. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secretory cavities absent. Cork cambium present; initially superficial. Nodes unilacunar. Primary vascular tissues in a cylinder, without separate bundles; collateral. Internal phloem absent. Cortical bundles absent. Medullary bundles absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring. Primary medullary rays wide.

The wood ring porous to diffuse porous. The vessels small; solitary, or radially paired to in radial multiples, or clustered, or in tangential arcs. The vessel end-walls simple. The vessels without vestured pits; without spiral thickening. The axial xylem with libriform fibres; without septate fibres. The fibres without spiral thickening. The parenchyma paratracheal. The secondary phloem not stratified (with no sclerosed elements). The wood partially storied (VP, VPI), or not storied.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite, or monoecious, or andromonoecious, or gynomonoecious, or polygamomonoecious (? — ‘polygamous’).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes. The ultimate inflorescence units racemose. Inflorescences terminal. Flowers minute, or small; regular; 5 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Free hypanthium absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 5; 1 whorled; polysepalous; regular; persistent; imbricate. Corolla 5; 1 whorled; polypetalous (the petals keeled within); valvate; regular; fleshy; persistent; accrescent.

Androecium 10. Androecial members free of the perianth, or free of the perianth and adnate (then the filaments of the antepetalous stamens adnate to the keels of the petals); free of one another; 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 10; diplostemonous; oppositisepalous; both alternating with and opposite the corolla members. Anthers slightly dorsifixed, or basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse. Pollen grains aperturate; (2–)3(–4) aperturate; shortly colpate, or colporate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium 5(–10) carpelled; apocarpous; eu-apocarpous, or semicarpous (sometimes basally united); superior. Carpel 1 ovuled. Placentation apical. Stigmas dry type; papillate; Group II type. Ovules pendulous; apotropous; with dorsal raphe; non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument not contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing only after one has been fertilized, or fusing simultaneously with the male gamete (?). Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; uninucleate. Synergids pear-shaped. Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit non-fleshy (when divested of the fleshy perianth); an aggregate. The fruiting carpels not coalescing. The fruiting carpel indehiscent; an achene. Fruit enclosed in the fleshy perianth (i.e. enclosed by the accrescent corolla, and the head of fruits forming a pseudo-drupe). Seeds scantily endospermic, or non-endospermic. Endosperm oily. Cotyledons 2 (oily); plano-convex. Embryo straight.

Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar. Nitrogen-fixing root nodules present.

Physiology, phytochemistry. C3. C3 physiology recorded directly in Coriaria. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present (one species). Iridoids not detected. Saponins/sapogenins absent. Proanthocyanidins absent. Flavonols present; kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid present. Aluminium accumulation not found.

Geography, cytology. Temperate (warm), sub-tropical to tropical. Mediterranean, mid-Eastern Eurasia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Central and western South America. X = 10.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Violiflorae (reassigned); Violales (? — Gadek et al 1996). Cronquist’s Subclass Magnoliidae; Ranunculales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Rosanae; fabid; Order Cucurbitales.

Species 15. Genera 1; only genus, Coriaria.

Economic uses, etc. A few cultivated ornamentals. Foliage and fruits very poisonous.

Illustrations. • Coriaria terminalis: Hook. Ic. Pl. 23 (1894). • Technical details: Coriaria. • Technical details: Coriaria (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: 12th September 2017. delta-intkey.com/angio’.

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