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The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Phellinaceae (Loes.) Takht.

Alternatively Phellineaceae; ~ Aquifoliaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Trees, or shrubs; non-laticiferous. Leaves evergreen; (pseudo-) whorled, or alternate (more or less crowded towards the branch tips); leathery; simple. Lamina entire. Leaves exstipulate.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

The axial xylem with tracheids. The parenchyma scanty paratracheal. ‘Included’ phloem absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants dioecious. Female flowers with staminodes. Gynoecium of male flowers pistillodial.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes, or in panicles. Inflorescences axillary; racemes or panicles or mixed panicles. Flowers regular; 4–6 merous; cyclic. Free hypanthium absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 8, or 10, or 12; 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx 4–6 (small); 1 whorled; gamosepalous (more or less connate at the base), or polysepalous (?); regular; open in bud. Corolla 4–6; 1 whorled; polypetalous (the petals with a small, inflexed apiculus); valvate; fleshy.

Androecium 4–6. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal; free of one another; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 4–6; isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; tetrasporangiate. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colporate (colporoidate).

Gynoecium 2–5 carpelled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth to isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 2–5 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious, or eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary 2–5 locular; sessile. Gynoecium more or less non-stylate (the stigma sessile). Stigmas 1 (lobed). Placentation axile to apical. Ovules 1 per locule; pendulous; slightly campylotropous, or hemianatropous.

Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a drupe. The drupes with separable pyrenes (as many stones as locules). Fruit 2–5 seeded. Seeds copiously endospermic.

Geography, cytology. Paleotropical. Tropical. New Caledonia.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Tenuinucelli (?). Dahlgren’s Superorder Corniflorae; Cornales. Cronquist’s Subclass Rosidae; Celastrales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Asteranae; campanulid; Order Asterales.

Species 12. Genera 1; only genus, Phelline.

General remarks. Readily separable from Aquifoliaceae (q.v.) only via calyx and corolla characters, but seemingly differing in wood anatomy as well. Associated with Asterales via rbcL sequencing.

Illustrations. • Phellina erubescens and P. lucida: Mahnke, 1940.


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: 12th September 2017. delta-intkey.com/angio’.

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