DELTA home

The families of flowering plants

L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Sarcobataceae Behnke

~ Chenopodiaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Spiny, halophytic shrubs. Plants succulent; autotrophic. Leptocaul. Halophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; terete; fleshy; sessile; simple. Lamina entire; linear. Leaves exstipulate.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening anomalous (judging from an illustration of the wood of S. vermiculatus).

The axial xylem with libriform fibres. The parenchyma paratracheal. ‘Included’ phloem present.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers functionally male and functionally female. Plants monoecious (according to Behnke (1997)), or monoecious and dioecious (Yamplolsky and Yampolsky (1922)). Female flowers without staminodes. Gynoecium of male flowers absent.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary (female), or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (male); when solitary and female, axillary; when aggregated and male, in catkins; ebracteolate.

Perianth sepaline (represented by the perigonium of female flowers), or vestigial to absent (male flowers); in female flowers, fleshy; accrescent. Calyx 2 (in female flowers only, represented by the bilobed perigonium); gamosepalous; blunt-lobed; campanulate; fleshy; persistent; accrescent (coming to enclose the fruit, and winged).

Androecium 1–4. Androecial members free of one another. Stamens 1–4; shortly filantherous. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; latrorse; tetrasporangiate (‘4-locular’, according to Behnke). Pollen grains aperturate; foraminate (with raised pore margins).

Gynoecium 2 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious; partly inferior (the perianth adnate). Ovary 1 locular. Gynoecium non-stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stigmas 2; papillate. Placentation basal. Ovules in the single cavity 1.

Fruit enclosed in the fleshy perianth. Seeds non-endospermic. Cotyledons 2. Embryo chlorophyllous; coiled (flat-spiralled).

Physiology, phytochemistry. Sieve-tube plastids P-type; type III (but containing a central protein crystal, unlike those typifying Chenopodiaceae).

Geography, cytology. Holarctic. Temperate. Halophytic, in the North American Great Basin and southwestern deserts.

Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Caryophylliflorae; Caryophyllales. Cronquist’s Subclass Caryophyllidae; Caryophyllales. APG 3 core angiosperms; core eudicot; Superorder Caryophyllanae; Order Caryophyllales.

Species 1. Genera 1; Sarcobatus.

General remarks. The oddity of Sarcobatus among Chenopodiaceae has long been acknowledged, e.g. by Bentham and Hooker (1880), who presented it as a monogeneric tribe. Behnke (1997) proposed family rank, because sieve-element plastid details support chloroplast DNA sequencing studies in placing it nearer Phytolaccaceae than Chenopodiaceae. He presents an extended exposition on ‘taxonomic history’ (including vernacular names, ethnobiology, etc.), but no organized comparative descriptive data — merely a short Latin diagnosis of the new family. Neither the latter nor the more detailed description attempted here effectively separate it morphologically from Chenopodiaceae.

Illustrations. • Sarcobatus vermiculatus: Nat. Pflanzenfam. III (1893).

The descriptions are offered for casual browsing only. We strongly advise against extracting comparative information from them. 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 August 2016.’.