Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Tress or shrubs (also scandent), sometimes armed with axillary thorns (in some genera the term spine has been used), often producing cyanogenic glycosides, and/or cyclopentenyl fatty acids. Leaves simple, mostly alternate, spirally arranged or distichous, sometimes aggregated towards apices of branchlets, entire or gland-toothed, occasionally also with glands at base, pinnately veined, often also 3 - 5-plinerved at base; stipules usually small and caducous, rarely absent. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual (plants mostly dioecious, rarely polygamous or monoecious), variously arranged in subterminal or axillary (sometimes on tubercles from old nodes) racemes, spikes, panicles, corymbs, cymes, or reduced to glomerules or fascicles, or even solitary. Sepals (2-) 3 - 6 (-15), connate into calyx-tube or wholly connate into a calyx dosed in bud and irregularly splitting at anthesis, imbricate or valvate, mostly persistent, rarely accrescent, sometimes gradually merging into petals, rarely expanded and wing-like. Petals absent or present, 3 - 8 (-15), distinct and alternating with sepals, or spirally arranged and poorly differentiated from sepals, sometimes persistent and accrescent, rarely gradually transitional to stamens, occasionally with an adaxial scale at base. Torus often expanded into annular, sometimes glandular disc. Stamens as many as petals or more, or numerous, antipetalous or not arranged in relation to petals; filaments usually free or connate in antisepalous bundles or all connate into a tube or into a central column; anthers 2-loculed, basifixed or dorsifixed, dehiscing longitudinally, connective sometimes produced into an apiculate appendage; pollen tricolpate to tricolporidate or tricolporate, prolate to spheroidal, shed singly. Disc often present, extrastaminal or in between stamens, annular, lobed or composed of distinct glands. Carpels (2-) 3 - 6 (-10), connate into unilocular (incompletely multilocular in Flacourtia, because of deeply intruding placentae), superior, semiinferior or inferior ovary; ovules anatropous, ampbitropous or rarely orthotropous, bitegmic, crassinucellar, 1-many in parietal placentae; styles 1 - 10, free or connate, sometimes absent; stigma simple or often obscurely lobed. Fruit capsular, berry or dry and indehiscent, rarely a drupe or samara, sometimes winged, prickly or spiny. Seeds 1-many, occasionally arillate, pulpy outside or covered with silky hairs; endosperm copious, oily; embryo straight; cotyledons usually broad and foliaceous.

Pantropical or subtropical, a few temperate; ca 79 genera and ca 880 species, 10 genera and 38 species in India.

Notes. Flacourtiaceae have been used in the past as a refuge for indeterminate elements, and are still relatively poorly known. Following morphological, anatomical and phytochemical studies, though a number of anomolous elements could be satisfactorily removed from the family, yet there remains much to be acheived. Thus, the family are still being distinguished from other families by a set of atypical characters. In the recent review, Lemke (1988) while recognising the family as comprising of 79 genera with approximately 880 species in 10 tribes, admitted that the family as could be tircumscribed with our current state of understanding, 'are rather heterogenous assortmeat of more or less homogeneous tribes'.

Literature. CHAKRABARTY, T. & M. GANGOPADHYAY (1992) The Flacourtiaceae of Andaman-Nicobar Islands. J. Econ. Tax. Bot. 16: 715 -722. KEATING, R. C. (1973) Pollen morphology and relationships of the Flacourtiaceae. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 60: 273 - 305. KEATING, R. C. (1975) Trends of specialization in the pollen of Flacourtiaceae with comparative observations of Cochlospermaceae and Bixaceae. Grana 15: 29 - 49. LEMKE, D. E. (1983) Tribal redefinition in Flacourtiaceae. Amer. J. lot. 70: 121. LEMKE, D. E. (1988) A synopsis of Flacourtiaceae. Aliso 12: 29 - 43. MILLER, R. B. (1975) Systematic anatomy of the xylem and comments on the relationships of the Flacourtiaceae. J. Arn. Arb. 56: 20 - 102. MUKHERJEE, N. (1972) Revision of the family Flacourtiaceae of India, Burma and Ceylon. Bull. Bot. Soc. Bengal 26: 31 - 45. SLEUMER, H. (1954) Flacourtiaceae. In: Fl. Malesiana 1, 5: 1 - 106. SLEUMER, H. (1980) Flacourtiaceae. In: Fl. Neotropica 22: 1 - 499. SPENCER, K. C. & D. S. SEIGLER (1985) Cyanogenic glycosides and systematics of the Flacourtiaceae. Biochem. Syst. Ecol. 13: 421 - 431.


1a. Petals absent 2
b. Petals present 6
2a. Flowers bisexual 3
b. Flowers unisexual (plants usually dioecious) 4
3a. Stamens alternating with as many staminodes, connate below to form a perigynous ring adnate to calyx tube 2. Casearia
b. Stamens not alternating with staminodes, free 3. Flacourtia
4a. Branchlets and peduncles conspicuously girdled with perular bracts at base; sepals usually 3, caducous; male flowers with pistillodes; female flowers with staminodes; disc broken up into glands between stamens in male flowers and staminodes in female flowers 1. Bennettiodendron
b. Branchlets and peduncles not with such bracts; sepals 4 - 5, subpersistent; pistillode absent in male flowres; staminodes rarely present in some female flowers (Flacourtia montana and F. rukkam); disc extra-staminal of distinct glands in male flowers, annular or lobed in female f1owers 5
5a. Anthers usually dorsifixed and versatile; ovary incompletely (2-) 3 - 6 (-10)-loculed with deeply intruding Placentae; styles 3 or more, free or nearly so; berry with indurate endocarp, globose when fresh, becoming Characteristically obtusely cubiform-angular and conatricted in middle when dry with 2 superposed pyrenes in each locule 3. Flacourtia
b. Anthers basifixed; ovary of 2 (-3) carpels, connate into a unilocular ovary; styles simple or branched only in upper part; berry 1-loculed, globose or ellipsoid both when fresh and dry 10. Xylosma
6a. Petals with a scale at base inside; flowers unisexual (plants dioecious, rarely male inflorescences with 1 - 2 bisexual but functionally female flowers, as in Pangium) 7
b. Petals without a scale at base inside; flowers bisexual 10
7a. Sepals more or less free, imbricate 6. Hydnocarpus
b. Sepals wholly connate into a closed calyx in bud 8
8a. Calyx sheds off as an irregular calyptra, leaving a cupular calyx 5-lobed or toothed at apex 4. Gynocardia
b. Calyx irregularly splitting into 2 - 5 calyx lobes at anthesis, caducous or persistent 9
9a. Leaves crowded at apices of branches, 3 - 5 -pliveined at base; stamens numerous; filaments free 7. Pangium
b. Leaves not crowded at apices of branches, pinnately veined from base; stamens 4 - 5; filaments connate into a column 8. Ryparosa
10a. Leaves pinnately veined; sepals with an episepalous nectar gland; stamens antipetalous, solitary or in clusters; anther connectives not exserted; both ovary and fruit adnate to hypanthium below, free above; fruit a dry capsule 5. Homalium
b. Leaves 3 - 5-plinetved at base; episepalous nectar glands absent; stamens irregularly arranged, not in relation to petals; anther connectives produced into an apiculate appendage; hypanthium absent, both ovary and fruit free; fruit a fleshy berry 9. Scolopia

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