The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Convallariaceae Horan.


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~ Former Liliaceae -Convallarieae, cf. Asparagaceae-Nolinoideae of APG III

IncludingAspidistreae (Aspidistraceae J.G. Agardh, Ophiopogonaceae Endlicher, Phlebaceae Dulac (p.p.), Platymetreae (Platymetraceae) Salisb., Polygonataceae Salisb.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs.‘Normal’ plants. Leaves well developed. Perennial; with a basal aggregation of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal aggregations of leaves. Young stems not breaking easily at the nodes. Rhizomatous, or tuberous. Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral, or distichous; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery; petiolate to sessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths with free margins. Leaves with ‘normal’ orientation; simple. Lamina entire; lanceolate, or oblong, or ovate (etc.); palmately veined, or parallel-veined, or pinnately veined (convergent-pinnate);without cross-venules; cordate, or attenuate at the base, or cuneate at the base, or oblique at the base. Leaves exstipulate. Lamina margins entire; flat.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata present; anomocytic. Guard-cells not ‘grass type’.

The mesophyll containing mucilage cells (with raphides); containing calcium oxalate crystals. The mesophyll crystals raphides. Vessels absent.

Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. Xylem with vessels, or without vessels (usually). Vessel end-walls scalariform.

Root anatomy. Roots with velamen (commonly, in Aspidistra, Polygonatum etc.), or without velamen. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform, or reticulately perforated and scalariform.

Reproductive type, pollination. Unisexual flowersabsent. Plants hermaphrodite. Floral nectaries present. Nectar secretion from the gynoecium (via septal nectaries). Pollination entomophilous, or by unusual means (supposedly by slugs — ‘malacophilous’ — in Aspidistra).

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (usually); when flowers solitary, axillary. The ultimate inflorescence unit when flowers aggregated, cymose (?). Inflorescences scapiflorous, or not scapiflorous; terminal, or axillary; various; espatheate. Flowers small to medium-sized; regular; 3(–4) merous; cyclic; pentacyclic. Perigone tube present (usually, campanulate or urceolate), or absent (Liriope). Hypogynous disk absent.

Perianthof ‘tepals’; 6 (usually), or 8; free, or joined; 2 whorled; isomerous; petaloid; similar in the two whorls; green, or white, or green and white, or pink to purple (rarely, and rarely other colours).

Androecium 6 (usually), or 8 (rarely), or 4 (rarely). Androecial members free of the perianth to adnate (often inserted high in the tube); all equal, or markedly unequal; free of one another, or coherent; when coherent, 1 adelphous (Peliosanthes); 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 4, or 6 (usually), or 8; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth, or isomerous with the perianth (usually), or diplostemonous. Anthers basifixed (usually), or dorsifixed (Reinbeckea); dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Microsporogenesis successive. Pollen shed as single grains. Pollen grains aperturate, or nonaperturate (Aspidistra); when aperturate, 1 aperturate; sulcate; 2-celled, or 3-celled.

Gynoecium 3 carpelled (always?), or 4 carpelled (rarely?). Carpels isomerous with the perianth (usually?). The pistil 3 celled, or 4 celled. Gynoeciumsyncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior to inferior. Ovary 3 locular, or 4 locular (?). Gynoecium non-stylate to stylate. Styles 1; apical. Stylar canal present. Stigmas 1; capitate (or lobate); dry type; papillate. Placentation basal, or axile, or apical. Ovules 2–4 per locule; anatropous to campylotropous, or orthotropous (almost); crassinucellate (mostly), or pseudocrassinucellate. Embryo-sac developmentAllium-type (usually), or Scilla-type, or Drusa-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; ephemeral. Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit fleshy (usually), or non-fleshy; indehiscent (usually), or dehiscent; a capsule (Liriope, Ophiopogon), or a berry. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds wingless. Embryo well differentiated. Cotyledons 1. Embryo achlorophyllous (4/5). Testa without phytomelan; pallid, brown, or sometimes bright blue.

Seedling.Hypocotyl internodepresent (short). Mesocotyl absent. Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll compact; non-assimilatory. Coleoptile present (Ophiopogoneae), or absent. Seedling cataphylls present (mostly), or absent (Ophiopogoneae). First leaf dorsiventral. Primary root persistent (commonly), or ephemeral (Ophiopogoneae).

Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids absent (?). Proanthocyanidins absent. Flavonols present, or absent (e.g. Aspidistra); kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid absent. Saponins/sapogenins present (steroidal, in abundance).

Geography, cytology. Holarctic, Paleotropical, and Neotropical. Caribbean. Mainly northern hemisphere.

Taxonomy.Subclass Monocotyledonae. Dahlgren et al. Superorder Liliiflorae; Asparagales. APG 3 core angiosperms; Superorder Lilianae; non-commelinid Monocot; Order Asparagales.

Species about 65. Genera about 11; Aspidistra, Convallaria, Heteropolygonatum,Liriope, Lourya, Maianthemum, Ophiopogon, Peliosanthes,Polygonatum, Reineckea, Rhodea(?), Smilacina, Tupistra.


  • Technical details: Ophiopogon, Peliosanthes, Rhodea.
  • Technical details: Convallaria, Polygonatum.
  • Aspidistra lurida: Bot. Reg. 628, 1822.
  • Convallaria majalis (B. Ent.).
  • Liriope graminifolia: Bot. Reg. 593, 1821.
  • Polygonatum multiflorum.
  • Tupistra nutans: Bot. Reg. 1223, 1829.
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