The families of flowering plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Foetidiaceae (Niedenzu) Airy Shaw

~ Lecythidaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Small to medium sized trees (with malodourous wood). Leaves alternate (crowded towards the branch tips); leathery (glabrous); not gland-dotted; simple. Lamina entire; conspicuously asymmetric to not conspicuously asymmetric; ovate, or obovate. Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins entire. Vernation involute.

General anatomy. Plants with silica bodies.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral. Stomata mainly confined to one surface (abaxial), or on both surfaces; anisocytic. Adaxial hypodermis present, or absent. Lamina without secretory cavities.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secretory cavities absent. Cork cambium present; initially superficial. Primary vascular tissues in a cylinder, without separate bundles. Internal phloem absent. Cortical bundles present (these inversely orientated). Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

The wood diffuse porous. The vessels moderately small. The vessel end-walls simple. The vessels without vestured pits. The axial xylem with libriform fibres; without septate fibres. ‘Included’ phloem absent. The wood not storied.

Reproductive type, pollination. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; when aggregated, in cymes. The ultimate inflorescence units cymose. Flowers (bi) bracteolate (at the apices of the pedicels); 4 merous.

Perianth sepaline; 4; 1 whorled. Calyx 4; 1 whorled; polysepalous; persistent; valvate.

Androecium 50–100 (‘many’). Androecial members branched, or unbranched (?); free of the perianth; weakly coherent (basally), or free of one another; sometimes 4 adelphous (then in four oppositisepalous groups). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 50–100 (‘many’); polystemonous; filantherous (the filaments filiform). Anthers very small; introrse. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colpate, or colporate.

Gynoecium 4 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 4 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious; inferior. Ovary 4 locular. Epigynous disk present (the intrastaminal component inconspicuous, but with a large, quadrate staminal disk). Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 4 (these short, slender, divaricate). Placentation axile (the placentas peltate). Ovules 15–20 per locule; horizontal; arranged in a vertical ring around the thick, peltate placenta; anatropous.

Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a drupe. The drupes with one stone (‘the endocarp with placenta and dissepiments hardening completely’, 1–4 locular). Fruit 1–4 seeded (the locules 1-seeded). Seeds non-endospermic (?).

Geography, cytology. Paleotropical. Tropical. Mascarene region.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Tenuinucelli (?). Dahlgren’s Superorder Theiflorae; Theales. Cronquist’s Subclass Dilleniidae; Lecythidales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Asteranae; Order Ericales (as a synonym of Lecythidaceae).

Species 5. Genera 1; only genus, Foetidia.

General remarks. Treated by Morton et al. (1998) as a subfamily of their expanded Lecythidaceae. Differing in seven morphological characters from our sensu stricto version of that family (q.v.).


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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