Description: Trees, shrubs, or climbers.
Leaves alternate or opposite, simple; stipules minute or absent.
Inflorescence axillary or terminal, cymose or racemose or flowers clustered or sometimes solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual and/or unisexual and then plants polygamous, monoecious or dioecious, 3–5-merous. Sepals 3–5 imbricate or valvate. Petals 3–5. Stamens mostly 2–5, alternate with petals, inserted on or beneath disc; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Disc various, usually conspicuous. Ovary partly, completely or not at all immersed in disc, 1–10-locular with 1 to many ovules per loculus; style prominent, short or obsolete.
Fruit a loculicidal capsule or drupe; seeds often arillate, sometimes winged.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 55 genera, c. 850 species, widespread in tropical & temperate regions. Australia: 16 genera, c. 38 species, Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Celastraceae, Order: Celastrales)
Hippocratea and related genera (2–14 gen., c. 300 spp.) are sometimes recognized as a separate family, the Hippocrateaceae.
Text by T. A. James
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves opposite or nearly so||2|
|2||Climbing shrubs or vines; stamens mostly 3; fruit a capsule, several-seeded||Hippocratea|
|Erect shrubs or trees; stamens mostly 4; fruit a drupe, 1-seeded|
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|3||Fruit a hard fleshy drupe, indehiscent||Siphonodon|
|Fruit a capsule, dehiscent|
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|4||Scandent shrubs or vines; flowers unisexual, plants dioecious; branches with conspicuous lenticels||Celastrus|
|Erect shrubs or trees; flowers bisexual; branches without conspicuous lenticels|
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|5||Capsules 5-locular with 5 valves; flowers reddish purple||Hedraianthera|
|Capsules 2–4-locular with 2–4 valves; flowers whitish or greenish yellow|
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|6||Flowers solitary; leaves sessile, needle-like||Apatophyllum|
|Flowers few to many, in cymes or racemes; leaves petiolate, not needle-like|
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