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The genera of Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae & Swartzieae

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Brownea Jacq.

Brownaea Jacq., Hermesias Loefl.

Type species: B. coccinea Jacqu.

Habit and leaf form. Trees (these often low), or shrubs (rarely); unarmed.

Phyllotaxy distichous, or spiral (rarely). The leaves compound; pinnate; paripinnate. The leaflets few per leaf (often large); opposite or sub-opposite; petiolulate to sessile to sub-sessile; without noticeably twisted petiolules; markedly asymmetrical to symmetrical or nearly so; pinntely veined, with a predominant ‘midrib’; without a continuous marginal nerve. Stipules absent or early caducous or very inconspicuous in mature leaves, or present, persistent and conspicuous in mature leaves; leafy, or membranous. Stipels absent.

Inflorescence and floral morphology. The inflorescences terminal; unbranched, or branched; simple racemes, or fascicles, or panicles (sometimes densely flowered, involucrate and nodding-capitate). The flowers not distichous. Bracts absent at anthesis (these caducous, sometimes large and coloured). Bracteoles present (coloured); small, not enclosing the flower buds; persistent beyond anthesis; not valvate; connate.

The flowers showy; hermaphrodite; pentamerous (rarely), or not pentamerous throughout; departing from pentamery in the androecium, or in the calyx and in the androecium; coloured. Hypanthium present; long; cupular to tubular. The perianth comprising distinct calyx and corolla. Calyx petaloid, 4–5; more or less regular; members imbricate. Corolla present; slightly irregular; 5; without greatly reduced members; polypetalous. Petals all clawed; imbricate; imbricate-ascending; white (rarely), or red. The androecium comprising 10–15 members; with united members, or members all free of one another; comprising only fertile stamens. Fertile stamens 10–15. Anthers attached well above the base of the connective. Ovary stipitate; eccentric, with the stipe adnate (the style filiform). Stigma very small, but dilated. Ovules numerous.

Fruit, seed and seedling. Fruit a two-valved pod; straight, or curved; without markedly twisting or enrolling valves; becoming woody, or not becoming woody. Seeds non-endospermic; not arillate; with a straight or slightly oblique radicle; amyloid-positive. Cotyledons of Type 4; with a vascular system ramified throughout.

Transverse section of lamina. Leaves with conspicuous phloem transfer cells in the minor veins. Druses absent from the mesophyll. Mesophyll secretory cavities absent. Adaxial hypodermis absent. Leaf girders common (the veins transcurrent). Laminae dorsiventral. Mesophyll without unaligned fibres or sclereids. Minor veins mainly with abundant accompanying fibres.

Leaf lamina epidermes. Epidermal crystals not seen either adaxially or abaxially. Simple unbranched hairs common, or not seen. No compound or branched eglandular hairs seen. Capitate glands not seen. Hooked hairs not seen. Cassieae-type leaf pseudo-glands not seen. Expanded and embedded hair-feet absent. Adaxial: Adaxial interveinal epidermal cell walls markedly sinuous in high-focus optical section; conspicuously pitted, or not conspicuously pitted; medium-thick to of medium thickness. Stomata adaxially very rare. Abaxial: Abaxial stomata predominantly paracytic. Abaxial epidermis not papillate. Abaxial interveinal epidermal cell walls markedly sinuous in high-focus optical section; conspicuously pitted in optical section, or not conspicuously pitted in optical section; staining normally with safranin; medium-thin to thin.

Wood anatomy. Wood not storied.

Pollen ultrastructure. Tectum punctate, or reticulate, or striate; smooth punctate, or puncticulate; finely to moderately regularly reticulate; pole to pole striate. Length of colpi greater than one half pole to pole distance. Foot layer of pollen wall smooth.

Cytology. Basic chromosome number, x = 12. 2n = 24.

Species number and distribution. About 30 species. Tropical America, West Indies.

Tribe. Detarieae; Amherstieae clade of Bruneau et al. (2008).

Comments. Widely cultivated.

Miscellaneous. Illustrations: • B. negrensis: Fl. Brasiliensis 15 (1870). • B. grandiceps: Bot. Reg. 30, 1841. • B. coccinea: Baillon, Histoire des Plantes 2 (1870). • B. neglecta (as Hermesias), habit: Nat. Pflanzenfam. III (1894). • B. neglecta (as Hermesias), details: Nat. Pflanzenfam. III (1894). • B. rosa-de-monte: Schery, Ann. Miss. Bot. Gard. 38 (1951). • B. macrophylla, e.m. scanned pollen (Graham & Barker, 1981). • B. aroensis and B. longipedicellata, e.m. scanned pollen (Graham & Barker, 1981).


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, and classification. See also Guidelines for using data taken from Web publications.


Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1993 onwards. The genera of Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae and Swartzieae: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English and French. Version: 22nd March 2017. delta-intkey.com/caes’.

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