Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
Census of SA Plants, Algae & Fungi
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Electronic Flora of South Australia family Fact Sheet


Alternative names: Not Applicable

Small annual or perennial succulent herbs, often with a tuberous or thickened tap root, occasionally rooting at the nodes, glabrous apart from axillary hairs; leaves spirally arranged to opposite, sometimes in basal rosettes, mostly sessile, entire, exstipulate, axillary hairs present in some genera.

Flowers bisexual, usually regular, in few- to many-flowered cymes or terminal heads; bracts leafy or scarious; sepals 2, free or connate at the base; petals 4-11, usually 5, free or connate at the base; stamens 3 to numerous, filaments often connate at the base; anthers 2-celled, dorsifixed, dehiscing longitudinally; ovary superior or semi-inferior, 1-celled; ovules 3 to numerous, on a basal or free central placenta, anatropous to amphitropous; style with 3-7 papillose stigmatic arms or stigmas free to the base.

Fruit a capsule, 3- or 4-valved or with a circumciss operculum; seeds 1 to numerous, smooth, fibbed, papillate, tuberculate, reticulate or covered in low rounded protuberances (colliculate); embryo curved.

Distribution:  About 20 genera with about 250 species. Cosmopolitan.

Biology: No text

Key to Genera:
1. Ovary inferior or semi-inferior; capsule circumciss; flowers sessile, in terminal heads
1. Ovary superior; capsule valvate or with a terminal pore; flowers pedicellate, in few- to many-flowered cymes
2. Leaves with axillary hairs; capsule separating into caducous epicarp and persistent endocarp, the valves of which are surrounded by and alternate with hardened bristle-like nerves
2. Leaves lacking axillary hairs; capsule with united pericarp
3. Stem leaves 2, opposite, broad-ovate to rounded, more than 1 cm diam., connate into a large cup-like involucre or disk below the inflorescence
3. Stem leaves numerous or rarely absent, alternate or opposite, linear to oblanceolate or spathulate, never broad-ovate or rounded, less than 1 cm diam., never connate and never forming a disk
4. Leaves with dilated membranous or scarious base, stem-clasping; petals united at the base
4. Leaves usually sessile, rarely petiolate, never dilated at the base, not stem-clasping; petals free

Author: Prepared by J. G. West

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