Strychnos L.
Sp.Pl. 2:189 (1753)

Name Status: Current
Browse to the list of specimens for Strychnos L.

Scientific Description
S. Hamilton-Brown, Thursday 8 September 2016

Common name. Strychnine Bushes. Family Loganiaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Trees, or shrubs, or lianas. Leaves cauline. To 6–12 m high (in trees). Self supporting, or climbing. Mesophytic. Not heterophyllous. Leaves medium-sized; opposite; decussate; petiolate; simple. Leaf blades dorsiventral; entire (more or less); ovate, or elliptic; pinnately veined (3–7 plinerved); cross-venulate. Mature leaf blades adaxially glabrous, or pubescent; abaxially glabrous, or pubescent. Leaves with stipules (but reduced to a rim connecting leaf bases). Stipules interpetiolar. Leaf blade margins entire.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary (or both); a many branched cyme, frequently with elaborations. Flowers pedicellate; bracteolate; small; fragrant, or odourless; regular; 5 merous, or 4 merous (not in Australian species); tetracyclic. Hypogynous disk absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10, or 8 (not in Australian species); 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5, or 4 (not in Australian species); 1 -whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous (connate in lower half); lobed; lobulate. Calyx lobes markedly longer than the tube. Calyx hairy (on outer surface), or glabrous (on inner surface); exceeded by the corolla; regular; persistent. Corolla present; 5, or 4 (not in Australian species); 1 -whorled; gamopetalous; lobed; lobulate. Corolla lobes markedly shorter than the tube, or markedly longer than the tube. Corolla valvate; campanulate (more or less), or hypocrateriform, or tubular; regular; hairy abaxially (on lobes of Australian species), or glabrous abaxially; hairy adaxially, or glabrous adaxially; plain; green (yellow-green), or white. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 4 (not in Australian species), or 5. Androecial members adnate; all equal; free of one another; 1 -whorled. Stamens 5, or 4 (not in Australian species). Staminal insertion midway down the corolla tube, or in the throat of the corolla tube. Stamens all inserted at the same level; becoming exserted; all more or less similar in shape; isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous; both opposite and alternating with the corolla members. Anthers all alike; basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse. Gynoecium 2 carpelled. The pistil 2 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular (commonly), or unilocular (rarely); 2 locular (commonly), or 1 locular (rarely). Gynoecium median; stylate. Styles 1; attenuate from the ovary; apical; persistent; hairy, or hairless. Stigmas 1. Placentation axile. Ovulodes absent. Ovules 2–50 per locule (i.e. to many).

Fruit and seed features. Fruit 8–40 mm long; fleshy; yellow, or orange, or red (or orange-brown); indehiscent; a berry. Dispersal unit the seed. Fruit 1–8 seeded (usually 1–2 per fruit). Seeds endospermic; compressed (ellipsoidal), or not compressed (orbicular); medium sized; conspicuously hairy, or not conspicuously hairy. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.

Geography, cytology, number of species. Native of Australia. Endemic to Australia, or not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, or Northern Territory, or Queensland, or New South Wales. Northern Botanical Province. A genus of c. 170–200 species; 1 species in Western Australia; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Etymology. From the Latin name used by Pliny for the nightshades generally, especially for Solanum nigrum (in the form strychnon the name was also used by Theophrastus and Dioscorides.

Taxonomic Literature

  • Australian Biological Resources Study (1996). Flora of Australia. Volume 28, Gentianales. CSIRO. Melbourne.
  • Wheeler, J. R.; Rye, B. L.; Koch, B. L.; Wilson, A. J. G.; Western Australian Herbarium (1992). Flora of the Kimberley region. Western Australian Herbarium. Como, W.A.