Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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R. N. Banerjee

Herbs, shrubs or woody climbers, rarely small trees, saprophytes or parasites. Leaves simple, entire, alternate, rarely opposite, distichous or rarely (partly) verticillate or whorled or reduced to scales or absent, pinnately nerved, exstipulate or rarely spinosely or discoidly stipulate. Inflorescences axillary or terminal, racemes, spikes or panicles or flowers solitary. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, basically 5-merous, 3-bracteate. Sepals 5 or rarely 4, imbricate in bud, free or rarely partly or entirely connate, the 2 inner ones mostly larger, petaloid, wing-like, deciduous or persistent. Petals 3, free or variously connate, sometimes minute and scale-like or absent; the upper 2 free or basally connate to staminal tube, the lowermost one keeled, boat-shaped, often with a dorsal 2-many lobed crest or appendage at beneath the top, rarely absent. Stamens basically 10, usually 8 (rarely 2 - 7) in 2 rows, monadelphous; sheath split above, often adnate to petals; anthers small, 1-loculed or rarely 2-loculed, basifixed, sessile or filamented, dehiscing by an apical or subapical pore or often by longitudinal or tangential slits. Disc absent or well-developed, annular or sometimes represented by intrastaminal glands. Ovary 2-carpelled, 2-locular, rarely 1-locular; style 1, curved; stigma entire or lobed; ovules 2, one in each on pendulous or axile placenta. Fruit a loculicidal capsule, 2-loculed, rarely seemingly 1-loculed, a samara, drupe, nut or berry. Seeds 2, arillate and sometimes strophiolate, often pilose; embryo straight, as long as the endosperm; cotyledons moderately thick, 1.5 - 3 times wider than radicle; endosperm copious, moderate or rarely absent.

Cosmopolitan, centred in American and African tropics; 12 genera and ca 800 species, 4 genera and 31 species in India.

Literature. CHODAT, R. (1890) Monograhia Polygalacearum. Mem. Soc. Phys. Hist. Nat. Geneva. Suppl. 7: 1 - 143, tt. 1 - 12; ibid. 31: 1 - 500, tt. 1 - 23. 1893. DAR, M. I. (1973) Polygalaceae. In: Fl. W. Pakistan 52: 1 - 11. MEUDEN, R. van der (1988) Polygalaceae. In: Fl. Males. I, 10: 455 - 539, ff. 1 - 26.


1a. Low herbs; flowers sessile, in spikes; sepals equal or subequal in shape and size; keel petals without appendages; stamens 3 - 6; fruits sessile; seeds glabrous 2
b. Tall herbs, shrubs or climbing shrubs; flowers pedicellate in racemes or panicles; sepals unequal in shape and size, 2 inner sepals much larger than outer ones and concolourous with the petals; keel petal with a dentate or lobed crest or without laciniate appendages at apex; stamens 8; fruits pedicellate; seeds pilose 3
2a. Saprophytic plants with minute scale-like non-green leaves; stamens 2 - 4 or 5; style straight or slightly curved; fruit enclosed by calyx, slightly compressed, inermous, with pellucid pericarp, indehiscent 1. Epirixanthes
b. Autotrophic plants with green leaves; stamens 4 - 5 or 6; style sigmoid; fruit not enclosed by calyx, flattened, dehiscing along the muricate margin 3. Salomonia
3a. Robust shrubs; flowers panicled; ovary 1-ovuled; fruit samaroid or winged; seed 1, exarillate and ecarunculate 4. Securidaca
b. Herbs or non-climbing shrubs; flowers racemed; ovary 2-ovuled; fruits capsular, seeds 2, with aril or caruncle 2. Polygala

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