Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Monoecious herbs or shrubs; indumentum of simple hairs or absent. Leaves alternate, small, petiolate, stipulate, entire, penninerved; lateral nerves arcuate, brochidromous. Inflorescences axillary, solitary or fasciculate. Male flowers: pedicellate; sepals 5, free or shortly connate at base; petals 5, shorter than sepals; disc glands 5, free, bilobed or dissected; stamens 5; filaments free or connate below into a column; anthers 4-locular, longitudinally dehiscent; thecae parallel; pollen grains 3-colporate; sexine reticulate or striate; pistillode trifid or obsolete. Female flowers: pedicellate; sepals 5, free or shortly connate at base, imbricate, sometimes accrescent in fruit; petals minute; disc glands free or connate; ovary 3-locular, glabrous or hispid; ovules 2 in each locule, hemitropous; styles 3, free, bifid. Fruits capsular, 3-lobed; seeds 2 per locule, triquetrous, smooth or striate, ecarunculate; endosperm fleshy; embryo curved; cotyledons flat, broad.

Africa, Southern Europe, through Asia Minor to Central Asia; ca 15 species; 1 species in India.

Notes. Webster (Taxon 24: 593 – 601. 1975) treated the genera Andrachne and Leptopus together but later changed his mind and separated them in 1994 (Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 81: 33 – 144). However, Govaerts et al. (World Checklist and Bibliography of Euphorbiaceae 1: 161. 2000 & 3: 1063. 2000) considered them to represent a single genus, Andrachne. Subsequently Radcliffe-Smith (Genera Euphorbiacearum, 2001) treated them as distinct genera.

Dr. Maria Vorontsova of Kew Gardens, who is at present carrying out the molecular phylogenetic work on the tribe Phyllantheae, clarified that although Andrachne and Leptopus have confusingly similar floral structure, they deserve distinct generic status. While Andrachne has markedly xerophytic niche with creeping habit and many stems and hemitropous ovules, Leptopus grows upright with fewer stems and anatropous ovules. Moreover, they exhibit no overlapping geographical distribution. Andrachne occurs in Africa, southern Europe and Asia Minor to Central Asia. Leptopus is native to Central Asia through India and China to the Philippines and Indonesia. India is on the boundary where these genera meet.

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