Synonyms: Sterculiaceae APNI*
Description: Herbs, shrubs or small trees, usually with stellate hairs.
Leaves alternate, entire or variously lobed or toothed, often palmately veined; stipules present.
Flowers solitary, or less commonly in terminal spikes or small axillary panicles or clusters; actinomorphic, usually bisexual. Sepals 3–5, ± fused, valvate, often subtended by an epicalyx of 3 or more segments. Petals 5, distinct but usually fused to the base of the staminal column. Stamens numerous, filaments fused in a column surrounding the style, column sometimes lobed and corona-like at the top, anthers 1-locular. Ovary superior; carpels 2–many, often 5, united; ovules 1–many; style branched, branches the same number as carpels or double the number.
Fruit a capsule or schizocarp.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 85 genera, 2000 species, cosmopolitan except for very cold regions, most abundant in warm-temp. & tropical regions, especially South America. Australia: 24 genera, c. 160 species, all States but more common in arid, tropical & subtropical regions.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Malvaceae, Order: Malvales)
The native species are of minor economic importance; the introduced species Gossypium hirsutum L. (Cotton) and Hibiscus cannabinus L. (Kenaf) are commercially important for fibre, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. and other species are widely cultivated as ornamentals. Some species are weeds.
Text by A. S. Mitchell & E. H. Norris
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Trees or shrubs more than 4 m high||2|
|Shrubs less than 4 m high (mostly less than 2 m high) or rarely herbs||6|
|2||Leaves palmately 3–9-lobed; fruit a samara||Heritiera|
|Leaves simple, margins entire to toothed, or lobed; fruit a capsule or follicle|
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|3||Leaves with petiole more than 20 mm long; margins not toothed; lamina either 3–7-lobed, or unlobed and glabrous or sparsely hairy on lower surface; fruit a follicle, more than 30 mm long||4|
|Leaves with petiole less than 20 mm long; margins mostly irregularly toothed and lamina densely hairy on lower surface, mostly unlobed, sometimes obscurely lobed in juvenile shoots; fruit a bristly capsule less than 20 mm long|
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|4||Leaves either 3–7-lobed, or entire and glabrous below; follicles stalked, hairy and yellowish brown inside, after opening seeds embedded along base||Brachychiton|
|Leaves entire and very sparsely stellate-pubescent on lower surface (lens needed); follicles sessile, glabrous and orange inside, after opening seeds attached along upper margins|
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|5||Capsules 15–20 mm diam., bristly, bristles covered with soft stellate hairs, carpels not separating in fruiting stage||Commersonia|
|Capsules c. 10 mm diam., tomentose but without bristles, carpels separating in fruit|
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|6||Herbs; stems prostrate to 30 cm long; hairs glandular and stellate||Gilesia|
|Shrubs; stems mostly erect, sometimes prostrate; hairs stellate but not glandular|
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|7||Epicalyx of 3 persistent subulate bracteoles; petals yellow, c. 10 mm long||Melhania|
|Epicalyx absent; petals not yellow, less than 10 mm long|
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|8||Calyx enlarged in fruit, papery, blue to purplish or white, sparsely or densely pubescent||Keraudrenia|
|Calyx not markedly enlarged in fruit, whitish green to pink to rusty-coloured, tomentose at least on the outside|
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|9||Capsules covered with bristles 2–5 mm long; calyx not prominent in fruit, not enclosing and shorter than the capsule||Rulingia|
|Capsules without bristles; calyx prominent in fruit, longer than and mostly enclosing the capsule|
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|10||Calyx lobes 10–15 mm long, linear-subulate, striate; capsule c. 10 mm diam.; peduncle with 1 or 2 fruits||Hannafordia|
|Calyx lobes usually less than 10 mm long, more or less ovate, rarely oblong; capsule usually less than 5 mm diam.; peduncle mostly with many fruits, rarely 1 or 2|
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