The families of flowering plants

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Uvulariaceae Kunth

~ Liliaceae.

Including Compsoaceae Horan., Tricyrtidaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs, or shrubs. ‘Normal’ plants. Perennial; without conspicuous aggregations of leaves; rhizomatous. Self supporting. Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral, or distichous; petiolate, or subsessile, or sessile; non-sheathing (but sometimes amplexicaul); simple. Lamina entire; lanceolate, or ovate; palmately veined (palmate-parallel); cross-venulate, or without cross-venules; cordate, or attenuate at the base, or cuneate at the base. Lamina margins entire.

Leaf anatomy. The leaf lamina dorsiventral. Stomata present; mainly confined to one surface. The mesophyll containing crystals, or without crystals (Tricyrtis). The crystals solitary-prismatic (cuboid). Foliar vessels absent.

Axial (stem, wood) anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. The axial xylem with vessels, or without vessels.

The vessel end-walls scalariform.

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the perianth.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in panicles, in racemes, and in spikes. The ultimate inflorescence units cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences generally few-flowered panicles or thyrses, or spikes with paired or solitary axillary flowers. Flowers small, or medium-sized; regular; 3 merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube absent.

Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; free; 2 whorled (3+3); isomerous; petaloid; without spots, or spotted (e.g. Tricyrtis); similar in the two whorls, or different in the two whorls (the outer tepals, or all of them, often with a nectariferous spur); white, or yellow, or white and purple, or yellow and purple (i.e. sometimes purple-spotted).

Androecium 6. Androecial members free of the perianth; free of one another, or coherent; if coherent 1 adelphous (the filaments cohering basally); 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6; diplostemonous. Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; extrorse, or introrse. The endothecial thickenings spiral. Pollen grains aperturate; 1 aperturate; sulcate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. The pistil 3 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious to synstylovarious (style tribrachiate to various extents); superior. Ovary 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1, or 3; the three partially joined; apical. Stigmas when separate, 3; when joined into one, 3 lobed; wet type, or dry type. Placentation axile. Ovules 5–50 per locule (?); arillate, or non-arillate; anatropous; bitegmic; tenuinucellate. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type (usually), or Clintonia-type (rarely). Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit fleshy, or non-fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent; a capsule (dry or fleshy), or a berry. Capsules septicidal, or loculicidal. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Embryo variously rudimentary at the time of seed release to weakly differentiated, or well differentiated. Testa seemingly nearly always without phytomelan; brown (mostly), or yellow (or ‘pallid’, but perhaps black in Uvularia — Bentham and Hooker, 1880!).

Seedling. Hypocotyl internode present (short). Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll elongated; assimilatory; dorsiventrally flattened. Coleoptile absent. First leaf dorsiventral.

Physiology, phytochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Proanthocyanidins present; cyanidin. Flavonols present; kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid absent.

Geography, cytology. Holarctic, Paleotropical, and Australian. Represented in eastern Asia, North America, Malaysia, New Guinea and Australia, but mainly Northern Hemisphere. X = 13, 14, 16.

Taxonomy. Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Liliiflorae; Liliales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; non-commelinid Monocot; Order Liliales (as a synonym of Liliaceae).

Species about 50. Genera about 10; Clintonia, Disporum, Kreysigia, Kuntheria, Medeola(?), Prosartes, Schelhammera, Scoliopus(?), Streptopus, Tricyrtis, Tripladenia, Uvularia.

General remarks. The compiled data show Uvulariaceae differing conspicuously from Liliaceae sensu stricto (q.v.) in the rhizomatous habit, palmate leaf venation and the more completely fused carpels, as well as in embryology, basic chromosome number and (in terms of limited sampling) production of proanthocyanidins.

Illustrations. • Uvularia chinensis: Bot. Mag. 23–24 (1806). • Uvularia grandiflora: Bot. Mag. 27–28 (1808). • Tricyrtis hirta: Bot. Mag. 89 (1863). • Disporum pullum var. brunnea: Bot. Mag. 145 (1919). • Technical details: Tricyrtis.


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: 19th August 2014. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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