Synonyms: Punicaceae APNI*
Description: Herbs, shrubs or trees.
Leaves opposite, subopposite, whorled or fasciculate, rarely alternate, simple and entire; stipules minute or absent.
Inflorescences of solitary flowers or axillary (or terminal) cymes or clusters of flowers, sometimes forming terminal spike-like conflorescences. Flowers bisexual, usually actinomorphic but sometimes zygomorphic, mostly 4–6 or rarely 7-merous, many species heterostylous, with (in Punica) a thick textured hypanthium. Calyx lobes usually alternating with tooth-like appendages. Petals free, crumpled in the bud; sometimes absent. Stamens as many as the petals or twice as many, inserted at different levels on the hypanthium, or (in Punica) numerous and attached over inner face of hypanthium. Ovary superior, 2–6-locular, each loculus with 2-many ovules, placentation axile, or (in Punica) inferior and many-locular; style single, slender, often variable in length; stigma usually capitate.
Fruit a dehiscent capsule or (in Punica) a spherical berry; seeds usually numerous, lacking endosperm.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 31 genera, c. 620 species, almost cosmopolitan; Australia: c. 11 genera, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Lythraceae, Order: Myrtales)
Commonly cultivated species include Cuphea ignea A.DC. (Cigar Flower), Lagerstroemia indica L. (Crepe Myrtle), Lythrum salicaria L. (Purple Loosestrife) and Punica granatum L. (Pomegranate). Seed of Ammannia multiflora Roxb. is said to have been used by Aborigines as a food source.
Text by (based on) J. Highet & Peter G. Wilson, Lythraceae in Flora of New South Wales Vol.2 revised edn: 232-235 (2002) and P.S. Green, Punicaceae in Flora of Australia Vol. 49: 202 (1994); revised June 2017
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census (accessed June 2017)
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Fruit a spherical berry crowned with persistent calyx (a pomegranate); stamens numerous; ovary inferior, many-locular.||Punica|
|Fruit a dehiscent capsule; stamens as many as the petals or twice as many; ovary superior, 2–6-locular.||2|
|2||Flowers zygomorphic; hypanthium swollen or spurred on one side at the base.||Cuphea|
|Flowers actinomorphic; hypanthium not swollen or spurred at the base.|
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|Hypanthium variously campanulate, funnel-shaped or globose.|
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|4||Flowers solitary and sessile in axils of bracts, sometimes forming terminal racemes; leaves mainly circular to ovate or lanceolate.||Rotala|
|Flowers in axillary cymes, peduncles to 6 mm long; leaves narrow-oblong to lanceolate.|
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