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Common name. Myrsine Family.
Habit and leaf form. Trees and shrubs, or lianas (a few — and a few sub-herbaceous); with coloured juice, or non-laticiferous and without coloured juice; resinous. Climbing (a few), or self supporting (mostly). Mesophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; petiolate; non-sheathing; gland-dotted (often), or not gland-dotted (then glandular-hairy); aromatic, or without marked odour; simple. Leaf blades entire; pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins often entire. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Domatia recorded (3 genera); represented by pockets, or hair tufts. Stem anatomy. Nodes unilacunar. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.
Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite, or functionally male and functionally female, or functionally male, or functionally female, or hermaphrodite, functionally male, and functionally female. Unisexual flowers present, or absent. Plants hermaphrodite, or monoecious, or polygamomonoecious, or dioecious. Female flowers with staminodes (often, large), or without staminodes.
Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose. Inflorescences axillary, or terminal. Flowers bracteolate (usually bibracteolate), or ebracteolate; small; regular; mostly 4–5 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 6–12; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx (3–)4–5(–6); 1 -whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous (often basally connate); imbricate, or contorted, or valvate; regular. Corolla (3–)4–5(–6); 1 -whorled; gamopetalous (usually), or polypetalous (e.g. Embelia); imbricate, or contorted, or valvate; regular. Fertile stamens present (nearly always), or absent (in female flowers, which often have large staminodes). Androecium (3–)4–5(–6). Androecial members free of the perianth (rarely), or adnate (to the corolla tube); free of one another, or coherent (sometimes); when coherent, 1 - adelphous (the filaments connate); 1 -whorled. Androecium of male-fertile flowers exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes (occasionally). Stamens (3–)4–5(–6); usually isomerous with the perianth; alternisepalous. Anthers cohering (Amblyanthus), or separate from one another; dehiscing via longitudinal slits, or dehiscing via pores; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Fertile gynoecium present, or absent (male flowers). Gynoecium 3–5(–6) carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth, or reduced in number relative to the perianth, or increased in number relative to the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior (nearly always), or partly inferior (Maesa). Ovary unilocular; 1 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; attenuate from the ovary; apical. Stigmas 1; dry type; papillate; Group II type. Placentation basal, or free central. Ovules in the single cavity 3–100 (‘few to many’); sunken in the placenta; ascending; non-arillate; anatropous.
Fruit and seed features. Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a berry, or a drupe; 1 seeded (usually), or 3–100 seeded (‘many’ only in Maesa). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm oily. Seeds with amyloid. Cotyledons 2. Embryo achlorophyllous (1/3); straight to curved. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar, or cryptocotylar.
Special features. Non-mangrove species.
Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: pantropical, subtropical and extending North to Japan and Florida, and South to New Zealand. X = 10–13, 23. 1000 species.