Description: Herbs, shrubs, trees or climbers.
Leaves alternate, opposite or pseudowhorled, simple, mostly entire; stipules absent.
Inflorescence axillary or terminal, usually cymose; flowers sometimes reduced to 1 or 2, often surrounded by coloured bracts. Flowers actinomorphic, mostly bisexual. Perianth commonly petaloid, often ± tubular, mostly 5-lobed. Stamens 1–many, filaments sometimes of unequal lengths, free or basally fused; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, 1-locular, basal ovule solitary; style long and slender.
Fruit an achene enclosed in the persistent basal portion of the perianth tube, the collective structure then called an anthocarp.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 30 genera, 300 species, mainly tropical, extending to temperate regions. Australia: 5 genera, 14 species, all mainland States, chiefly tropical & arid areas.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Nyctaginaceae, Order: Caryophyllales)
Bougainvillea spectabilis Willd. is often grown as an ornamental in frost-free areas; in this species the showy petaloid bracts surround a cluster of small flowers on long, arching, spiny stems. Mirabilis jalapa L. is also often cultivated in gardens
Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & G. J. Harden
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Herbs; leaves opposite; upper portion of perianth not persistent in fruit||2|
|1||Trees, shrubs or woody climbers; leaves alternate, opposite or pseudowhorled; upper part of perianth persistent in fruit||Pisonia|
|2||Stems prostrate or ascending; paired leaves at each node mostly unequal in size; perianth less than 5 mm long||Boerhavia|
|Stems erect; paired leaves at each node equal in size; perianth more than 10 mm long|
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