The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Smilacaceae Vent.


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ExcludingBehniaceae, Ripogonaceae

Habit and leaf form. Scandent shrubs and herbs, or lianas. Perennial; with neither basal nor terminal aggregations of leaves; rhizomatous, or tuberous. Climbing; tendril climbers (the tendrils from the petiole bases), or petiole twiners (the tendrils sometimes reduced to points). Mesophytic and xerophytic. Leaves evergreen; alternate (mostly), or opposite; usually leathery; petiolate to subsessile; sheathing (rarely), or non-sheathing. Leaf sheaths when present, with free margins. Leaves foetid, or without marked odour; simple (though the tendrils, sometimes called ‘stipules’, have also been seen as representing the midveins of lateral leaflets). Lamina entire; lanceolate, or ovate; one-veined, or palmately veined (curved-convergent); cross-venulate; cordate, or hastate, or attenuate at the base. Leaves stipulate (ostensibly, if the tendril bases be so interpreted), or exstipulate. Lamina margins entire.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata present; anomocytic. Hairs present, or absent.

Lamina dorsiventral. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (Smilax). Vessels present, or absent; end-walls scalariform.

Stem anatomy. Secretory cavities present. Cork cambium present. Secondary thickening absent. Xylem with vessels. Vessel end-walls scalariform.

Root anatomy. Root xylem with vessels; vessel end-walls scalariform.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowersfunctionally male, or functionally female. Plants dioecious. Pollination entomophilous.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes, or in racemes, or in spikes, or in umbels, or in verticils. Inflorescences not scapiflorous; terminal, or axillary; often of one or more superimposed verticils appearing as racemes, spikes or umbels. Flowers regular; 3 merous; cyclic. Perigone tube present (short or long), or absent.

Perianthof ‘tepals’; 6; free, or joined; 2 whorled; isomerous; petaloid (but fairly inconspicuous); similar in the two whorls to different in the two whorls (the inner members more or less reduced, sometimes fringed).

Androecium 3 (rarely), or 6 (usually), or 9–18 (rarely). Androecial members free of the perianth; free of one another, or coherent; sometimes 1 adelphous (filaments fused into a tube or column); (1–)2(–6) whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6 (usually), or 3, or 9, or 12, or 15, or 18; isomerous with the perianth to polystemonous; filantherous. Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse, or latrorse; unilocular; tetrasporangiate. The endothecial thickenings spiral. Microsporogenesis successive. The initial microspore tetrads isobilateral. Tapetum glandular. Pollen shed as single grains. Pollen grains nonaperturate (or indistinctly so); 2-celled.

Gynoecium 1 carpelled (rarely), or 3 carpelled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth, or reduced in number relative to the perianth (rarely). The pistil 1 celled, or 3 celled. Gynoecium monomerous (rarely), or syncarpous; of one carpel (rarely), or synovarious to synstylovarious; superior. Carpel stylate; apically stigmatic; when monocarpellary 1 ovuled, or 2 ovuled. Ovary when syncarpous 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate, or non-stylate to stylate. Styles 3; free (usually), or partially joined; apical. Stigmas dry type; papillate; Group II type. Placentation axile. Ovules 1 per locule, or 2 per locule; pendulous; non-arillate; orthotropous (usually), or hemianatropous, or campylotropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Endosperm formation nuclear.

Fruit fleshy. The fruiting carpel when monocarpellary, baccate. Fruit when syncarpous (i.e. usually) indehiscent; a berry; usually 3 seeded. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Embryo well differentiated (mostly small). Embryo straight. Testa without phytomelan.

Seedling.Hypocotyl internode present (not elongated, but a long epicotyl present). Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll compact; non-assimilatory. Coleoptile absent. Seedling cataphylls present. First leaf dorsiventral. Primary root persistent.

Physiology, biochemistry. Proanthocyanidins absent. Flavonols present, or absent; when present, quercetin, or kaempferol and quercetin. Ellagic acid absent. Saponins/sapogenins present. C3. C3 physiology recorded directly in Smilax. Anatomy non-C4 type (Smilax).

Geography, cytology. Holarctic, Paleotropical, Neotropical, Cape, and Australian. Temperate (warm), or sub-tropical to tropical. Widespread, tropical, subtropical and warm temperate.X = 10, 13–16.

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

Species 370. Genera 3; Heterosmilax, Pseudosmilax, Smilax.


  • Technical details: Smilax (Lindley).
  • Technical details: Smilax.
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