Common name. Catbrier Family.
Habit and leaf form. Scandent shrubs and herbaceous climbers; evergreen. Perennial; plants with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves; rhizomatous, or tuberous. Climbing; tendril climbers (the tendrils ‘stipular’, from the petiole bases), or petiole twiners (the tendrils sometimes reduced to points). Mesophytic and xerophytic. Leaves 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). Leaf blades entire; lanceolate, or ovate; one-veined, or palmately veined (curved-convergent); cross-venulate; cordate, or hastate, or attenuate at the base. Leaves with stipules (as represented by tendril bases, adnate, sometimes inflated), or without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers functionally male, or functionally female. Unisexual flowers present. Plants dioecious. Entomophilous.
Inflorescence and flower features. 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. Perianth of ‘tepals’; 6; 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). Fertile stamens present, or absent (female flowers). 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. Anthers basifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse, or latrorse; unilocular; tetrasporangiate. Pollen shed as single grains. Fertile gynoecium present, or absent (male flowers). Gynoecium 1 carpelled (rarely), or 3 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled, or 3 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth, or reduced in number relative to the perianth (rarely). 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 plurilocular; when syncarpous 3 locular. Gynoecium stylate, or non-stylate to stylate. Styles 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.
Fruit and seed features. 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); straight. Testa without phytomelan. Seedling. Hypocotyl internode present. Mesocotyl absent. Seedling collar not conspicuous. Cotyledon hyperphyll compact; non-assimilatory. Coleoptile absent. Seedling cataphylls present. First leaf dorsiventral. Primary root persistent.
Physiology, biochemistry. Photosynthetic pathway: C3.
Geography, cytology, number of species. Holarctic, Paleotropical, Neotropical, Cape, and Australian. World distribution: widespread, tropical, subtropical and warm temperate. X = 10, 13–16. 370 species.