The families of flowering plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Melanophyllaceae Takht.

~ Toricelliaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Small trees, or shrubs (the foliage blackening on drying). Leaves alternate; spiral; long petiolate; more or less sheathing. Leaf sheaths not tubular; with free margins. Leaves simple. Lamina entire. Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins entire, or serrate, or dentate. Domatia never explicitly mentioned for the family.

General anatomy. Plants with ‘crystal sand’.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral (with 1–4 poorly developed palisade layers). Stomata present; mainly confined to one surface (abaxial); anomocytic. Hairs present (sometimes forming an abaxial tomentum); sometimes glandular. Adaxial hypodermis absent. Lamina without secretory cavities.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secretory cavities absent. Internal phloem absent. Cortical bundles absent. Medullary bundles absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

‘Included’ phloem absent.

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

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes. The ultimate inflorescence units racemose. Inflorescences racemes and (according to Airy Shaw 1973) panicles. Flowers mostly (bi-) bracteate; regular; 5 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 5; 1 whorled; gamosepalous (minute). Corolla 5; 1 whorled; polypetalous; imbricate; regular. Petals sessile (ovate or oblong, reflexed).

Androecium 5. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal; free of one another; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 5; isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous; alternating with the corolla members; shortly filantherous (the filaments slender). Anthers dorsifixed, or basifixed (elongate-oblong); dehiscing via longitudinal slits. Pollen mostly shed in aggregates; in tetrads. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colporate.

Gynoecium 2–3 carpelled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. The pistil 2–3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious; inferior. Ovary 2–3 locular. Epigynous disk absent (or obsolete). Gynoecium stylate. Styles 2–3 (erect or recurved); free. Stigmas 2–3 (linear or punctiform). Placentation axile to apical, or apical (?). Ovules 1 per locule; pendulous; apotropous (the micropyle turned inwards); with dorsal raphe; anatropous.

Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a drupe ((2–)3 locular, with one fertile dorsal and two sterile ventral locules, the septa marked by external grooves).

Geography, cytology. Paleotropical. Tropical. Madagascar.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Tenuinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Araliiflorae (re-assigned from Corniflorae); Araliales. Cronquist’s Subclass Rosidae; Cornales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Asteranae; campanulid; Order Apiales (as synonym of Torricelliaceae).

Species 8. Genera 1; only genus, Melanophylla.

General remarks. Assignment to Araliiflorae is supported by rbcL sequence data. Melanophylla (a tropical genus) differs from the temperate Toricellia in conspicuous leaf, inflorescence and floral characters, a well as in the aggregate pollen.


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 April 2014. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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