The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Malesherbiaceae D. Don

~ Passifloraceae.

Habit and leaf form. (Half-) shrubs, or herbs (often very hairy). In dry habitats. Leaves alternate; foetid; simple. Lamina dissected, or entire; when dissected, pinnatifid (sometimes deeply so); pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins when blade entire, crenate, or dentate.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina bifacial. Hairs present; eglandular and glandular (the latter secreting a malodorous substance).

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Cork cambium present; initially deep-seated, or initially superficial. Internal phloem absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring. Primary medullary rays narrow.

The vessel end-walls simple. The axial xylem with libriform fibres. ‘Included’ phloem absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; when aggregated, in cymes, or in racemes, or in panicles; regular; 5 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Floral receptacle developing an androphore (this villous and lobed). Free hypanthium present (this long, slender, straight or curved, persistent).

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 5; 1 whorled; polysepalous; regular; persistent (with the hypanthium); imbricate, or valvate (? — valvate according to all the written descriptions seen, imbricate in the Le Maout & Decaisne diagram). Corolla 5; 1 whorled; appendiculate (with a membranous, denticulate corona); polypetalous; valvate, or with open aestivation (? — the petals small); regular.

Androecium 5. Androecial members free of the perianth; free of one another; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 5; isomerous with the perianth. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits. Pollen shed as single grains; without viscin strands. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colporate.

Gynoecium 3–4 carpelled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. The pistil 1 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious; superior. Ovary 1 locular; stipitate. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 3–4; free (filamentous); lateral (below the apex). Stigmas 3–4. Placentation parietal. Ovules in the single cavity 30–100 (‘many’); non-arillate; anatropous.

Fruit non-fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent (?); a capsule; included in the persistent hypanthium. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds reticulate-ridged and pitted. Embryo well differentiated (medium sized). Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.

Physiology, phytochemistry. Cyanogenic. Cynogenic constituents of the gynocardin group (?). Aluminium accumulation not found.

Geography, cytology. Neotropical. Temperate. South Peru, Northern Chile, Western Argentina.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Violiflorae; Violales. Cronquist’s Subclass Dilleniidae; Violales. APG III core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Rosanae; fabid. APG IV Order Malpighiales (as a synonym of Passifloraceae?).

Species 27. Genera 1; only genus, Malesherbia.

General remarks. Close to Passifloraceae, but with foetid leaves, lateral styles, non-arillate ovules, and differing tendencies in leaf form and androecial characters.

Illustrations. • Malesherbia linearifolia: Bot. Mag. 61 (1834). • Gynopleura humilis (= Malesherbia): Bot. Mag. 125 (1899). • Malesherbia thyrsiflora: Hutchinson. • Le Maout and Decaisne: Malesherbia.

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: 5th March 2018.’.