Description: Mostly shrubs, less commonly herbs, trees or climbers; phloem fibres long in the thin bark so that the bark is difficult to break.
Leaves alternate or opposite, simple, entire; stipules usually absent.
Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemes, often condensed into heads or flowers clustered or sometimes solitary. Flowers usually actinomorphic, bisexual, 4- or 5-merous, generally strongly perigynous. Hypanthium well-developed and bearing ± petaloid sepals as lobes on rim [or seldom the sepals ± distinct and the flowers hypogynous]. Petals often absent or small and scale-like, inserted in the throat of the hypanthium. Stamens mostly twice the number of sepals, 4–10 or rarely numerous or 2 in Pimelea; ± sessile or filaments inserted in the hypanthium; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Disc commonly present, often represented by separate scales. Gynoecium mostly of 2–5 fused carpels, ovary 2–5-locular, frequently carpels 2 with 1 reduced so that the ovary appears 1-carpellate.
Fruit commonly indehiscent, dry or fleshy [or a capsule].
Distribution and occurrence: World: 50 genera, 500 species, temperate & tropical regions, especially Africa. Australia: 9 or 10 genera (c. 7 genera native), c. 95 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Thymelaeaceae, Order: Malvales)
A number of species are cultivated as ornamental shrubs, especially Daphne mezereum L. for its fragrant flowers. The bark of several genera, particularly Wikstroemia, yields fibres which are used locally. Many species are suspected of being toxic to stock but positive evidence of toxicity has been recorded for only a few species. It appears that virtually any species of Pimelea would be toxic if eaten in sufficient quantity.
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Stamens 2; shrubs, small trees or herbs||Pimelea|
|Stamens 4 or more; shrubs or small trees||2|
|2||Leaves less than 20 mm long and less than 2 mm wide, very crowded||3|
|Leaves more than 20 mm long and more than 10 mm wide, not crowded|
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|3||Stamens 4; leaves less than 5 mm long; prostrate shrubs; flowers white, less than 2 mm long||Kelleria|
|Stamens at least 8; leaves 6–12 mm long; erect shrubs; flowers yellow, more than 8 mm long|
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|4||Ovary 1-locular, with 1 ovule; scale-like petals 4, free or united in pairs; leaf laminas usually less than 4 cm long||Wikstroemia|
|Ovary 2-locular, with 1 ovule in each loculus; scale-like petals united in a short cup; leaf laminas mostly more than 4 cm long|
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