Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Leptopus Decne.

Herbs, undershrubs or shrubs, monoecious or dioecious, erect or ascending or procumbent, sometimes scandent. Leaves alternate, simple, petiolate, entire, laxly hairy to glabrous beneath, penninerved; stipules inserted at lateral bases of petiole, caducous or rarely persistent. Inflorescences axillary, solitary or fascitulate, Male flowers: pedicels usually filimorm, articulate above base; sepals 5 (-6), imbricate, distinct or shortly connate at base; petals as many as sepals, about half as long as sepals, sometimes keeled at back; disc glands scale-like, linear, entire or bifid at apex, as long as petals, opposite to sepals; stamens 5; filaments broad at base, narrowed upwards; anthers 4-locular, introrse, longitudinally dehiscent; pistillode trifid or obsolete. Female flowers: axillary or 2 – 4-together, long-pedicelled; sepals 5 or 6, 3-nerved, sometimes enlarged in fruit; petals 5 or 6, small, often hidden between the sepals and the disc lobes and apparently obsolete; disc scales as in male or annular and flattened; ovary glabrous, hispid or hirsute; ovules 2 in each locule, anatropous, styles 3, each deeply bifid; staminodes minute or obsolete. Fruits capsular, 3-lobed, with 3 bivalved cocci; seeds turgidly trigonous, with a broad convex back, smooth or transversely striate, without caruncle, glabrous, hispid or hirsute; embryo curved, cotyledons flattened and broad.

Native to Central Asia, extending to the Philippines and Indonesia; 10 species; 4 species in India.


1 a. Plants up to 3 m high; leaves caudate at apex (cauda 5 – 25 mm long), glabrous beneath; female flowers 2 – 4 per axil 4. Leptopus emicans
b. Plants up to 1.5 m high; leaves subacute, rounded, obtuse, mucronate or acuminate at apex (acumen up to 5 mm long, pubescent at least on midrib beneath; female flowers 1 or 2 per axil 2
2 a Ascending herbs; female and fruiting pedicels ca 1 mm long; ovary shortly hirsute; capsules evanescently pubescent 1. Leptopus australis
b. Erect undershrubs or shrubs, sometimes scandent; female and fruiting pedicels 8 – 50 mm long; ovary and capsules glabrous 3
3 a Branchlets acutely angled; leaves shortly acuminate at apex; male pedicels 6 – 8 mm long; male disc segments bipartite, linear and with a gland in between 2. Leptopus clarkei
b. Branchlets terete when mature; leaves subacute, rounded, obtuse or mucronate at apex; male pedicels 7 – 18 mm long; male disc segments bipartite, ovate and without a gland in between 3. Leptopus cordifolius

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