Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Shrubs, scandent, climbing, or erect or trees; evergreen or deciduous, dioecious or monoecious, aromatic, often armed with prickles which are borne on elevated, conical or pyramidal, corky protruberances. Leaves alternate, trifoliolate to imparipinate or paripinnate; petiole and rachis winged or not; leaflets 3 - 33, subsessile to shortly petiolulate, opposite to alternate, often asymmetric, entire to glandular-serrate. Inflorescence terminal and/or axillary, racemose, cymose or paniculate. Flowers small, unisexual or rarely bisexual. Perianth of 4 to 8, irregularly uniseriate, undifferentiated segments or biseriate with 4 or 5 outer sepals and 4 or 5 inner petals. Stamens 3 - 5 (-8), free, alternate with petals, in carpeUate flowers reduced to staminodes or absent. Disk flat to pulvinate or obscure. Gynoecium of 1 - 4, sessile or stipitate, distinct or only partially united carpels, in staminate flowers rudimentary or absent. Ovary 1-locular, each with 2 collateral pendulous ovules; styles coherent to divergent; stigma capitate, distinct or coherent. Fruits of 1 to 4, distinct or partially coherent 1-seeded 2-valved follicles, exocarp firm or fleshy, glandular-punctate, or pustular, red or black, endocatp cartilaginous, straw coloured, detached or adherent; seeds ovoid to subglobose, black or reddish, shiny, testa crustaceous, often hanging from opened follicle by a funiculus on maturity, endosperm fleshy.

Pantropical with some species rarely extending to temperate zones of E. Asia and one in N. America, ca 220 species, 12 in India.

Literature. BABU, C.R.(1974) 1977.The genus Zanthoxylum Linn. (Rutaceae) in India. Bull. Bot. Surv. India 16: 48 - 71. BRIZICKY, G. K. (1962). Taxonomic and Nomenclatural notes on Zanthoxylum and Glycosmis (Rutaceae). J. Arn. Arb. 43: 80 - 93. FOSBERG, F.R. (1958) "Zanthoxylum" L., "Xanthoxylum Mill. and 'Thylax" Raf. Taxon 7: 94 - 96. FOSBERG, F.R. (1959) Typification of Zanthoxylum. Taxon 8: 103 - 105. HARTLEY, T.G. (1966) A revision of the Malesian species of Zanthoxylum (Rutaceae). J. Arn. Arb. 47: 171 - 211.

Notes. The taxonomic delimitation and nomenclature of Zanhoxylum L., sensu stricto (with an undifferentiated uniseriate perianth) and its segregate Fagara L. (with biseriate, differentiated perianth) has been a subject of much controversy among earlier taxonomists. Brizicky (1962) based on his observations on species with perianth structure as transitional to Fagara type proposed that simple perianth of Zanthoxylum was most likely a secondary condition derived by reduction from that of Fagara type due to abortion of some or all sepals. He considered Fagara as a subgenus under Zanthoxylum.

Hartley (1966) while revising Malesian species of Zanthoxylum demonstrated what was called'a complete transition between Fagara and Zanthoxylum types of perianth' in three staminate specimens of Zanthoxylum dimorphophyllum from China. He, therefore, united both Zanthoxylum and Fagara under one genus. This view was endorsed by Babu (1974) who revised the genus in Indian region, with 13 species including 3 new species viz. Z. burkillianum (from Abor hills (Arunachal Pradesh), Z. pseudoxyphyllum (Manipur) and Z. nepalensis (Nepal).


1a. Petiole and rachis narrow to broadly winged; perianth of uniseriate or irregularly biseriate 4 - 8, undifferentiated segments 2
b. Petiole and rachis wingless; perianth of biseriate, 4 or 5 sepals and 4 or 5 petals 3
2a. Branchlets ferruginous-pubescent; inflorescence in leaf axils, short, glomerate, paniculate cymes; secondary nerves of leaflets up to 30 pairs, prominent 1. Zanthoxylum acanthopodium
b. Branchlets glabrous; inflorescence terminal on short, axillary branchlets, spreading, paniculate; Secondary nerves of leaflets up to 20 pairs, more often indistinct 2. Zanthoxylum armatum
3a. Plants erect shrubs or trees 4
b. Plants scandent or climbing shrubs 7
4a. Plants often erect shrubs or small trees up to 10 m high; branchlets with small retrorse, simple prickles; leaves small to medium, up to 30 cm long 5
b. Plants medium to large trees up to 25 or 30 m tall with a long bole and a terminal crown; main stem and older branches with prickles borne on corky conical protruberances; leaves larger, up to 45 (-60) cm long 6
5a. Leaves usually digitately 3-foliolate, seldom pinnately 4- or 5-foliolale; branchlets glabrous; gynoecium 1-carpellate 6. Zanthoxylum ovalifolium
b. Leaves imparipinnate with 13 - 17 leaflets; branchlets with soft velvety-tomentose indumentum; gynoecium 4-carpellate 12. Zanthoxylum tomentellum
6a. Flowers 4-merous; gnoecium 1-carpellate 9. Zanthoxylum rhetsa
b. Flowers 5-merous; gynoecium 3 - 4 carpellate 4. Zanthoxylum myriacanthum
7a. Leaflets fewer, 3 - 9, medium to large, up to 15 x 7.5 cm 8
b. Leaflets many, 9 - 29, rarely less than 7 on same plant, small to medium, up to 10 x 4 cm 11
8a. Inflorescence single, axillary, racemose panicle; flowers solitary or 2 - 3 -nate on peduncle 8. Zanthoxylum pseudoxyphyllum
b. Inflorescence fascicled, terminalandfor axillary, paniculate; flowers in dense cymose clustures 9
9a. Inflorescence terminal and axillary; leaflets with undulate, deeply sinuate, glandular-crenate margins 11. Zanthoxylum tetraspermum
b. Inflorescence often axillary; leaflets with entire to remotely glandular crenate margins 10
10a. Leaflets entire throughout, with a conspicuous cartilaginous margin, turning grey-brownish on drying; follicles up to 10 mm across 3. Zanthoxylum burkillianum
b. Leaflets with entire to glandular-crenate noncartilaginous margins, turning deep blackish on drying; follicles up to 7 mm across 5. Zanthoxylum nitidum
11a. Branchlets, leaves and inflorescences with velvety-pubescent indumentum; leaflets caudate at apex, entire up to middle and slightly crenate above along margins; flowers in lax cymes 10. Zanthoxylum scandens
b. Branchlets, leaves and inflorescences often glabrous, if pubescent indumentum not as above; leaflets obtusely and shortly acuminate at apex, glandular-crenate to serrate along margins; flowers in dense umbellate clusters 7. Zanthoxylum oxyphyllum

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