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The genera of Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae & Swartzieae

L. Watson and M.J. Dallwitz

Elizabetha Schomb. ex Benth.

Type species: E. princeps Schomb. ex Benth.

Habit and leaf form. Trees; unarmed.

Phyllotaxy distichous, or spiral (rarely). The leaves compound; pinnate; paripinnate. The leaflets small, many per leaf, or few per leaf; opposite or sub-opposite; sessile to sub-sessile; markedly asymmetrical; without a continuous marginal nerve. Stipules absent or early caducous or very inconspicuous in mature leaves, or present, persistent and conspicuous in mature leaves; connate, or not connate. Stipels present, or absent.

Inflorescence and floral morphology. The inflorescences terminal; unbranched (?); ‘densely racemose or capitate’, simple racemes, or simple corymbs. The flowers not distichous. Bracts large, broad, leathery, deciduous, absent at anthesis. Bracteoles present (coloured, leathery); relatively large and enclosing the flower buds; persistent beyond anthesis; not valvate; basally connate.

The flowers showy; hermaphrodite; not pentamerous throughout; departing from pentamery in the calyx and in the androecium; coloured. Floral tube length relative to total hypanthium + calyx length about 0.5 (usually), or 0.75 (rarely). Hypanthium present; cupular, or tubular. Calyx petaloid, 4; covering the rest of the flower in bud, or not covering the rest of the flower in bud (rarely); more or less regular, or markedly irregular; members imbricate. Corolla present; regular to very irregular (the adaxial petal often slightly to markedly differing from the others); 5; without greatly reduced members; polypetalous. Petals sessile; imbricate; imbricate-ascending; red. The androecium comprising 9 members; with united members (forming a short tube which is open adaxially); members all more or less equal in length, or markedly unequal; including staminodia. The staminodia 6; smaller than the perfect stamens, with or without empty anthers. Fertile stamens 3. Anthers attached well above the base of the connective; dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary stipitate; eccentric, with the stipe adnate (the style filiform). Ovules numerous.

Fruit, seed and seedling. Fruit a two-valved pod; curved; winged longitudinally (adaxially), or not noticeably winged; becoming woody. Seeds non-endospermic; with a straight or slightly oblique radicle; amyloid-positive.

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 absent. 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; scabrid. 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 present, or absent; all medium to thick-walled; hair feet all simple, without vertical walls. Basally bent hairs absent. Adaxial: Adaxial interveinal epidermal cell walls markedly sinuous in high-focus optical section; not conspicuously pitted. 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; not conspicuously pitted in optical section; staining normally with safranin.

Wood anatomy. Wood not storied. Intervascular pits very small.

Pollen ultrastructure. Tectum reticulate; verrucose reticulate. Length of colpi greater than one half pole to pole distance.

Species number and distribution. About 12 species. Tropical South America.

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

Miscellaneous. Illustrations: • E. eliogyne, flower and bracteoles (Cowan & Polhill, 1981). • E. speciosa, 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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