Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Annuals or perennials, prostrate or erect, undershrubs or herbs. Leaves opposite, palmately uni-or trifoliolate, fleshy, rarely simple to many-foliolate; leaflets flat or cylindric; stipules 2, often spiny. Flowers solitary, axillary, pedicellate, white or yellow, with red or purple spots at base. Sepals 4 - 5, deciduous or persistent, imbricate. Petals 4 - 5, clawed, spathulate, imbricate and contorted. Disk, fleshy, angled, cup-shaped or concave. Stamens 8 - 10, inserted on disk, longer than petals; filaments filiform, usually with a scaly appendage at base; anthers oblong-ovate. Ovary angular, 4 - 5-locular, each locule with 2 or more pendulous ovules; styles angular; stigma small. Capsules 4-to 5-angled or-winged, indehiscent or septicidally dehiscent into 5 cocci or loculicidally 5-valved; seeds 1 to many in each locule; cotyledons oblong.

Distrib. About 100 species in deserts and steppes of Russia Asia, Mediterranean region, Africa and Australia.

Uses. Seeds are collected by nomad tribes of Multan desert and eaten under the name Alathi.

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