The families of flowering plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Elaeocarpaceae DC.

~ Tiliaceae.

Including Aristoteliaceae Dum.; excluding Muntingiaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Trees and shrubs. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves alternate; usually spiral (i.e., by contrast with Tiliaceae); petiolate; non-sheathing; simple. Lamina entire; pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves stipulate. Stipules caducous, or persistent. Leaf development not ‘graminaceous’. Domatia occurring in the family (found in numerous Elaeocarpus and Sloanea species); manifested as pits, or pockets, or hair tufts (but mostly pockets in Elaeocarpus, hair tufts in Sloanea).

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina usually dorsiventral. Hydathodes present (occasionally), or absent. Mucilaginous epidermis commonly present. Stomata usually mainly confined to one surface (the lower). Lamina without secretory cavities. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (Tricuspidaria).

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Pith usually somewhat heterogeneous. Secretory cavities absent (? — at least, without mucilage canals or cavities, by contrast with Tiliaceae). Cork cambium present; initially superficial. Nodes tri-lacunar. Primary vascular tissues in a cylinder, without separate bundles (traversed by narrow rays, which do not expand to become triangular through the phloem). Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

The wood semi-ring porous, or diffuse porous. The vessels usually very to moderately small, or medium; commonly in radial multiples. The vessel end-walls simple, or scalariform and simple. The vessels without vestured pits; with spiral thickening, or without spiral thickening. The axial xylem with tracheids, or without tracheids; without vasicentric tracheids; with fibre tracheids, or without fibre tracheids; with libriform fibres; including septate fibres (rarely), or without septate fibres. The fibres without spiral thickening. The parenchyma paratracheal. The secondary phloem not stratified. The wood not storied.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite, or dioecious (Elaeocarpus p.p.).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes, in panicles, and in racemes. The ultimate inflorescence units cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences racemes, panicles and dichasia. Flowers regular; cyclic, or partially acyclic (?). The androecium acyclic. Floral receptacle developing an androphore (often), or with neither androphore nor gynophore. Free hypanthium absent. Hypogynous disk present (‘usually’).

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla, or sepaline (corolla often missing); 4–5, or 8–10; 1 whorled, or 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 4, or 5; 1 whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous; regular; usually valvate. Epicalyx absent. Corolla when present, 4, or 5; 1 whorled; polypetalous (usually), or gamopetalous (rarely); valvate (or valvate-induplicate, never contorted); regular. Petals often fringed.

Androecium 15–100 (i.e. ‘many’). Androecial members branched; maturing centrifugally; free of the perianth; free of one another, or coherent (often in 4 or 5 antesepalous groups). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 15–100; triplostemonous, or polystemonous. Anthers dehiscing via pores (usually, these apical), or dehiscing via short slits; tetrasporangiate; appendaged (the connective often conspicuously prolonged), or unappendaged. Endothecium not developing fibrous thickenings (with stone cells, in Elaeocarpus). Anther epidermis persistent. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral. Tapetum glandular. Pollen grains aperturate; commonly 3 aperturate; commonly colporate (or colporoidate); psilate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium (1–)2–10 carpelled. The pistil 1–50 celled (to ‘many’). Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary (1–)2–10 locular (but sometimes ostensibly plurilocular by false septa). Locules secondarily divided by ‘false septa’, or without ‘false septa’. Ovary sessile. Styles 1; attenuate from the ovary; apical. Stigmas 1–10 (as many as G); when joined 1–10 lobed; dry type; papillate; Group II type. Placentation apical. Ovules 2 per locule, or 15–50 per locule (i.e. 2 or ‘many’); pendulous, or pendulous and ascending; apotropous, or apotropous and epitropous; with ventral raphe; arillate (often), or non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument contributing to the micropyle. Endothelium differentiated. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Synergids hooked. Hypostase present. Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny asterad.

Fruit fleshy, or non-fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent; a capsule, or a drupe, or a berry. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm not oily. Embryo well differentiated. Embryo chlorophyllous (1/1); curved (U or J shaped). Micropyle zigzag.

Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.

Physiology, phytochemistry. Cyanogenic, or not cyanogenic (mostly). Cynogenic constituents phenylalanine-derived (?). Alkaloids present, or absent. Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins present; cyanidin, or cyanidin and delphinidin. Flavonols present; kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid present (Aristotelia), or absent (Tricuspidaria). Aluminium accumulation normally not found.

Geography, cytology. Temperate (some), or sub-tropical to tropical (mostly). Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Eastern Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, Chile. X = 12, 14, 15.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Malviflorae; Malvales. Cronquist’s Subclass Dilleniidae; Malvales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Rosanae; fabid; Order Oxalidales.

Species 350. Genera 9; Aceratium, Aristotelia, Crinodendron, Dubouzetia, Elaeocarpus, Peripentadenia, Sericolea, Sloanea, Valea.

General remarks. Differing in numerous characters from our compilation for Tiliaceae sensu stricto. (q.v.).

Illustrations. • Technical details: Elaeocarpus, Vallea. • Elaeocarpus cyaneus: Bot. Reg. 657, 1822. • Elaeocarpus tuberculatus (as Monocera): R. Wight (1840).


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: 22nd July 2014. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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