Phytolaccaceae R.Br.

Narr.Exped.Zaire 454 (1818)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Pokeweed Family.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs (usually), or trees, or shrubs, or lianas, or herbaceous climbers. 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. Leaf blades entire; pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves with stipules (e.g. Seguieria), or without stipules (usually). Stipules when present, free of one another; spiny. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Domatia recorded (Gallesia); represented by hair tufts. Stem anatomy. Nodes unilacunar. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous; when anomalous, via concentric cambia.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite (usually), or functionally male, or functionally female. Unisexual flowers present, or absent. Plants hermaphrodite (usually), or dioecious.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in cymes, or in racemes, or in spikes, or in panicles. The terminal 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. Perianth sepaline (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; imbricate; usually persistent. Fertile stamens present (usually), or absent (female flowers). Androecium 4–5, or 5–100 (i.e. to ‘many’). Androecial members branched, or unbranched. Androecial sequence determinable, or not determinable. Androecial members 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. Fertile gynoecium present (usually), or absent (male flowers). Gynoecium (1–)4–12(–16) carpelled. The pistil 1 celled, or 2–12 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth, or reduced in number relative to the perianth, or increased in number relative to the perianth. 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. Ovary plurilocular; when more or less syncarpous, 2–12 locular. Styles free, or partially joined. Placentation when more or less syncarpous, basal. Ovules 1 per locule; arillate, or non-arillate; campylotropous, or amphitropous.

Fruit and seed features. 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, 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; achlorophyllous (2/2); curved. Micropyle not zigzag. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Aluminium accumulation not found. Plants accumulating free oxalates. Photosynthetic pathway: C3.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: tropical and warm temperate America, Africa, Eurasia, Southeast Asia, Australia. X = 9. 100 species.

Economic uses, etc. A few cultivated as ornamentals.