Description: Herbs, shrubs or rarely trees; mostly glabrous.
Leaves usually alternate, simple, entire; stipules commonly absent.
Inflorescence axillary, terminal or leaf-opposed, mostly racemes or flowers solitary in the upper axils. Flowers mostly actinomorphic, usually bisexual. Perianth of 4 or 5 free, petaloid segments, persistent. Stamens 3–many, often twice as many as the tepals, hypogynous; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Gynoecium of 1–10, rarely more, superior [rarely inferior] carpels, free or more often ± fused to form a compound ovary, styles usually free and as many as the carpels; ovule 1 per carpel.
Fruit a berry, achene, [nut or drupe].
Distribution and occurrence: World: 12 genera, 100 species, widespread in tropical & subtropical regions, especially South America. Australia: 3 genera, 5 species, all mainland States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Phytolaccaceae, Order: Caryophyllales)
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Perianth segments 5; carpels more than 4; fruit more than 4-seeded; herbaceous perennials, often woody at the base||Phytolacca|
|Perianth segments 4; carpel solitary; fruit 1-seeded; shrubs or perennial herbs woody at the base||2|
|2||Fruit a berry, smooth, red; flowers bisexual; perennial herbs, usually woody at the base||Rivina|
|Fruit burr-like, an achene covered with hooked bristles, green to brown; flowers unisexual; shrubs|
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