Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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sensu lato

Trees, shrubs or herbs, some climbing or twining, monoecious or dioecious; stems sometimes succulent and/or with latex; xylem vessel perforation plates scalariform, simple or both. Leaves alternate or rarely opposite or whorled, simple or sometimes palmately lobed or compound, the margins entire or serrate; stipules free, rarely connate or absent, deciduous or persistent; venation pinnate or palmate; indumentum simple, stellate or lepidote, sometimes absent. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, occasionally cauliflorous, basically cymose, thyrses or racemes, or these often grouped into panicles; flowers solitary or in glomerules, these often grouped into spiciform or capitate thyrses or cyathia. Flowers: unisexual, actinomorphic, anemophilous or entomophilous, the parts hypogynous, rarely perigynous (in Bridelia). Perianth segments mostly not differentiated into sepals and petals, in some genera differentiated into sepals and coloured petals; sepals free or rarely connate, valvate or imbricate, sometimes reduced or absent, (1-) 3 - 6 (-8), sometimes distinctly coloured; petals if present free, variously coloured; disc present or absent, intrastaminal or extrastaminal, entire, annular or dissected into separate glands. Stamens (1 -) 3 - 50 (- 300) (always solitary in Euphorbia); filaments free or connate; anthers mostly 2-locular, basifixed or rarely dorsifixed, sometimes the thecae separate, longitudinally dehiscent, introrse or extrorse; pollen grains tectate or semi-tectate, (2-) 3 (- 10)- colporate (inaperturate or polytreme). Gynoecium syncarpous; ovary (1 -) 2 - 5 (- 20)-locular; placentation axile; ovules 1 or 2 in each locule, anatropous or hemitropous, rarely orthotropous, inserted beneath an obturator, crassinucellate with 2 integuments; nucellus often beaked; embryo sac mostly 8-nucleate; styles usually 3, free or variously connate, each usually bifid, rarely multifid. Fruits capsular, schizocarpic, elastically dehiscing into 2-valved cocci from a persistent columella, sometimes baccate or drupaceous. Seeds 1 or 2 per locule (rarely one or two seeds per fruit); seed-coat thin to indurate, sometimes with sarcotesta; endosperm fleshy, copious or moderate, rarely scanty or absent; embryo straight to arcuate or folded; cotyledons usually broader than radicle, thin to moderately thick.

Cosmopolitan, except for the arctic and cool temperate regions of northern Hemisphere; mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, ca 322 genera and ca 8900 species; 70 genera and ca 410 species in India.

Notes. Recent molecular studies and the evidences obtained therein have changed the concept of the family Euphorbiaceae and the trend now is to divide the family into several segregate families and merger of several genera. The creation of the family Phyllanthaceae based on the subfamily Phyllanthoideae of Euphorbiaceae and the merger of the genera Breynia, Glochidion and Sauropus with Phyllanthus (Hoffmann et al., 2006 and Kathriarachchi et al., 2006) necessitate a number of name changes. Accordingly, Chakrabarty and Balakrishnan (2009) transferred the taxa of the above genera occurring in Indian subcontinent to Phyllanthus. However, dividing the family Euphorbiaceae into segregate families is a new concept and needs wide consensus before acceptance. Hence, in the present treatment, Euphorbiaceae, sensu lato is maintained.

Literature. BALAKRISHNAN, N. P. & T. CHAKRABARTY (2007). The family Euphorbiaceae in India - a synopsis of its profile, taxonomy and bibliography. Dehra Dun. CHAKRABARTY, T. & N. P. BALAKISHNAN (2009). Transfer of Indian species of Breynia, Glochidion and Sauropus to Phyllanthus (Phyllanthaceae) - new combinations and new names. J. Econ. Taxon. Bot. 33(3): 712 - 716. GOVAERTS, R., D. G. FRODIN & A. RADCLIFFE-SMITH (2000). World Checklist and Bibliography of Euphorbiaceae (and Pandaceae). Vols. 1 - 4. Kew. HOFFMANN, P., KATHRIARACHCHI, H. & K. J. WURDACK(2006). A phylogenetic classification of Phyllanthaceae (Malpighiales; Euphorbiaceae sensu lato). Kew Bull. 61(1): 37 - 53. KATHIARACHCHI, H., R. SAMUEL, P. HOFFMANN, J. MLINAREC, K. J. WURDACK, H. RALIMANANA, T. F. STUESSY & M. W. CHASE (2006). Phylogenetics of tribe Phyllantheae (Phyllanthaceae; Euphorbiaceae sensu lato) based on nrITS and plastid matK DNA sequence data. Amer. J. Bot. 93 (4): 637 - 655.


1 a. Locules of ovary each with 2 ovules; milky latex absent, intraxylary phloem, and stinging hairs absent; indumentum simple or rarely lepidote or dendritic; embedded foliar glands rare; pollen grains binucleate; seeds ecarunculate; endosperm copious or absent 2
b. Locules of ovary each with a single ovule; latex often present; indumentum various; pollen grains binucleate or trinucleate; seeds carunculate or not; endosperm usually copious 3
2 a. Leaves alternate, very rarely opposite, stipulate, simple and unlobed (trifoliolate in Bischofia); petals present or absent; pollen grains tricolporate or porate, sexine not with conspicuous spines; seeds ecarunculate V. PHYLLANTHOIDEAE
b. Leaves alternate, opposite or whorled, stipulate or exstipulate, simple or trifoliolate; petals absent; pollen grains colpoidorate to porate, sexine spiny; seeds carunculate or not IV. OLDFIELDIOIDEAE
3 a. Milky latex absent; laticifers (if present) not articulate; leaves simple or lobed, rarely compound; indumentum simple or stellate; petals present or absent; pollen grains binucleate, mostly tricolporate, sexine reticulate to rugose-perforate I. ACALYPHOIDEAE
b. Latex reddish or yellowish to milky (rarely absent); laticifers usually present, articulate or not; leaves simple to palmately lobed or compound; pollen grains binucleate or trinucleate 4
4 a. Latex clear to reddish or whitish, innocuous; laticifers articulate or not; leaves often palmately veined, lobed or compound; indumentum simple or often stellate; inflorescence dichasial paniculate to spicate; bracts usually not biglandular at base; sepals imbricate to valvate, usually completely covering anthers in bud; petals mostly present; floral disc often with staminodes; pollen grains mostly porate or inaperturate with ‘crotonoid’ pattern of polygonally arranged sexinous processes II. CROTONOIDEAE
b. Latex whitish, often caustic or poisonous; laticifers not articulate (rarely absent); leaves simple (rarely lobed), pinnately veined or triplinerved; indumentum simple or often absent, never typically stellate; inflorescence racemose, spicate, capitate or cyathial; bracts mostly biglandular at base; sepals imbricate or obsolete; anthers mostly not covered in bud; petals absent; floral disc usually without staminodes; pollen grains tricolporate, colpi usually marginate, sexine reticulate to more often perforate-lectate III. EUPHORIOIDEAE

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