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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Erythropalaceae (Hassk.) Van Tiegh.

~ Olacaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Slender shrubs, or lianas; bearing essential oils (in the wood), or without essential oils (?the leaves). Climbing; tendril climbers (with axillary tendrils representing modified peduncles). Leaves alternate; long petiolate; simple. Lamina entire; pinnately veined (3–5 nerved at the base); cross-venulate. Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins entire.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes. The ultimate inflorescence units cymose. Inflorescences axillary; loose, axillary dichotomous cymes. Flowers bracteate (the bracts subulate); very small; regular; 5 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium present (the tube becoming enlarged, enclosing the fruit).

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 5; 1 whorled; gamosepalous; blunt-lobed (the lobes short and broad); regular; persistent; accrescent; (sub-) imbricate. Corolla 5; 1 whorled; polypetalous; valvate; deciduous.

Androecium 5. Androecial members adnate (to the corolla); free of one another; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 5; isomerous with the perianth; alternisepalous; opposite the corolla members; shortly filantherous. Filaments appendiculate (with two lateral, bearded scales at the base). Anthers ovate, introrse. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colpate.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 1 celled, or 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious to eu-syncarpous; inferior. Ovary 3 locular (at first), or 1 locular (later, by disappearance of thin septa). Epigynous disk present (shortly cupular, pentagonal). Gynoecium shortly stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 1, or 3 (stigma shortly trifid). Placentation apical. Ovules 1 per locule; pendulous; anatropous; unitegmic; tenuinucellate. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; small.

Fruit fleshy; dehiscent; a drupe (with crustaceous endocarp, completely enclosed in the subpyriform, thin, red-brown, long-stipitate hypanthium-plus-calyx, which finally splits into 3–5 reflexed valves). The drupes with one stone. Fruit 1 seeded. Seeds endospermic. Embryo minute. Testa blue.

Geography, cytology. Paleotropical. Tropical. Indomalayan.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; dubiously Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Santaliflorae; Santalales. Cronquist’s Subclass Rosidae; Santalales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Santalanae; Order Santalales (as a synonym of Olacaceae).

Species 2. Genera 1; only genus, Erythropalum.

General remarks. Apparently differing from Olacaceae sensu stricto only in the appendiculate stamens, the fully inferior ovary and the dehiscent fruit.

Illustrations. • Technical details: Erythropalum (Hutchinson). • Erythropalum scandens: Fl. Malesiana 10 (1984).


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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