The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Phytolaccaceae R. Br.


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IncludingEndochromaceae Dulac, Hilleriaceae Nakai, Lophiocarpaceae Doweld & Reveal, Petivereae (Petiveriaceae) C.A. Agardh, Rivineae (Rivinaceae) J.G. Agardh, Seguiariaceae Nak.Excluding Achatocarpaceae,Agdestidaceae, Barbeuiaceae, Gisekiaceae Nak., Stegnospermataceae

Habit and leaf form. Herbs (usually), or trees, or shrubs, or lianas. Plants more or less succulent, or non-succulent. Self supporting (usually), or climbing. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; ‘herbaceous’, or fleshy; petiolate to sessile; non-sheathing; gland-dotted, or not gland-dotted; simple. Lamina entire; pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves stipulate (e.g. Seguieria), or exstipulate (usually). Stipules when present, free of one another; spiny. Lamina margins entire. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Domatia occurring in the family (Gallesia); manifested as hair tufts.

Leaf anatomy. Mucilaginous epidermis present, or absent. Stomata present; mainly confined to one surface, or on both surfaces; anomocytic, or paracytic.

Adaxial hypodermis present, or absent. Lamina usually dorsiventral. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (Phytolacca, Rivina).

Stem anatomy. Cork cambium present; initially superficial. Nodes unilacunar. Internal phloem absent. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous; when anomalous, via concentric cambia. ‘Included’ phloem present (often?), or absent. Xylem with fibre tracheids; with libriform fibres, or without libriform fibres; with vessels. Vessel end-walls simple. Sieve-tube plastids P-type; type III (a). Pith with diaphragms, or without diaphragms.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plantshermaphrodite (usually), or dioecious.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes, or in racemes, or in spikes, or in panicles. The ultimate inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary, or leaf-opposed; spikes to panicles, rarely cymes. Flowers bracteate; bracteolate (the bracts and bracteoles small); small; regular (variable in form, showing unusual diversity in androecium and gynoecium); cyclic. Floral receptacle developing a gynophore, or with neither androphore nor gynophore. Free hypanthium absent. Hypogynous disk present, or absent.

Perianthsepaline (corolla absent, the calyx green or somewhat coloured); 4, or 5(–10); 1 whorled. Calyx 4, or 5(–10) (the segments equal or unequal); 1 whorled; usually persistent; imbricate.

Androecium 4–5, or 5–100 (i.e. to ‘many’). Androecial members branched, or unbranched; when branched/many, maturing centrifugally; free of the perianth; free of one another, or coherent (then the filaments joined basally); when connate, 1 adelphous; 1 whorled, or 2 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 4–5, or 5–50; isomerous with the perianth, or diplostemonous to polystemonous. Anthers dorsifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. Anther wall of the ‘monocot’ type. Tapetum glandular. Pollen grains aperturate; 3–12(–30) aperturate; colpate, or foraminate, or rugate; spinulose; 3-celled (in several genera).

Gynoecium (1–)4–12(–16) carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth, or reduced in number relative to the perianth, or increased in number relative to the perianth. The pistil when other than apocarpous, 2–16 celled (?).Gynoecium monomerous (rarely), or apocarpous, or syncarpous; of one carpel to eu-apocarpous, or semicarpous to synovarious (i.e. the carpels free to more or less connate); superior. Carpel when apocarpous/semicarpous, stylate; 1 ovuled. Placentation when apocarpous, basal. Ovarywhen more or less syncarpous, 2–16 locular (?). Styles 2–16 (?); free, or partially joined. Stigmas 2–16. Placentation when more or less syncarpous, basal. Ovules 1 per locule; arillate, or non-arillate; campylotropous, or amphitropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument not contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Polar nuclei fusing prior to fertilization. Antipodal cells formed; 3; proliferating (Rivina, up to 6 cells), or not proliferating; ephemeral, or persistent. Synergids pear-shaped, or hooked. Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny onagrad, or caryophyllad, or chenopodiad.

Fruit fleshy, or non-fleshy; an aggregate, or not an aggregate. The fruiting carpel when apocarpous, indehiscent; samaroid, or nucular, or drupaceous. Fruit when syncarpous, dehiscent, or indehiscent, or a schizocarp (when G2). Mericarps when schizocarpic, 2; comprising berrylets, or comprising nutlets, or comprising drupelets. Fruit when more or less syncarpous, a capsule, or a berry. Capsules loculicidal. Seeds non-endospermic. Perisperm present. Seeds with starch. Embryo well differentiated. Cotyledons flat, or folded. Embryo achlorophyllous (2/2); curved. Micropyle not zigzag.

Seedling.Germination phanerocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present, or absent. Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins absent. Flavonols present, or absent; kaempferol. Ellagic acid absent (3 species, 3 genera). Betalains present. Saponins/sapogenins present, or absent. Aluminium accumulation not found. Plants accumulating free oxalates. C3 (or CAM?). C3 physiology recorded directly in Phytolacca.

Geography, cytology. Temperate to tropical. Tropical and warm temperate America, Africa, Eurasia, Southeast Asia, Australia. X = 9.

Taxonomy.Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Caryophylliflorae; Caryophyllales. Cronquist’s Subclass Caryophyllidae; Caryophyllales. APG 3 Order almost Ericales.

Species about 100. Genera 15; Anisomeria, Ercilla, Gallesia, Hilleria,Ledenbergia, Lophiocarpus, Microtea, Monococcus, Petiveria,Phytolacca, Rivina, Schindleria, Seguieria, Trichostigma.

Economic uses, etc. A few cultivated as ornamentals.


  • Technical details: Phytolacca, Seguieria.
  • Technical details: Seguiera (Lindley).
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