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Genus Phyllanthus Family Phyllanthaceae

Description: Shrubs or herbs, mostly monoecious.

Leaves alternate, entire, sessile or shortly petiolate; stipules mostly small.

Flowers axillary in clusters or solitary; perianth segments 6, divided to base, in 2 whorls. Male flowers with 6 glands at base of perianth segments representing the disc; stamens usually 3–5, filaments free or united. Female flowers with ovary 3- or more-locular; ovules 2 per loculus; styles 3, free or shortly fused, usually bifid.

Fruit mostly capsular, of three 2-valved fruitlets, dehiscent; seeds usually 3-angled.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 600 species, tropical & subtropical regions, also in Europe & North America. Australia: c. 60 species, all States.

Formerly placed in Euphorbiaceae.

Text by T.A. James & G.J. Harden, Flora of New South Wales Vol. 1: 395-398 (1990), in Euphorbiaceae
Taxon concept: Australian Plant Census (accessed May 2017)

 Key to the species 
1Branch leaves mostly scale-like (though plants of Phyllanthus lacunarius may have about half their branch leaves with well developed laminas)2
Branch leaves with well-developed lamina or leaves reduced in size6
2Sepals 5, or if 6 then stamens 4–63
Sepals 6 and stamens 3
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4
3Branchlets flattened; stamens 3, filaments connate; female flowers solitary; styles notched; seeds striatePhyllanthus amarus
Branchlets rounded; stamens 4–6, filaments free; female flowers 1–5; styles divided for half or more of their length
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Phyllanthus tenellus
4Herbs, to 0.3 m high; stipules cream to yellow-brown; male sepals red; female pedicels at anthesis 0.2–1 mm long, in fruit 1–3 mm long; seeds striatePhyllanthus lacunarius
Shrubs to 3 m high; stipules red-brown; male sepals white, yellow or green; female pedicels at anthesis 1.4–15 mm long, in fruit 2.2–18 mm long; seeds smooth, not striate
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5
5Branchlets rounded, not ribbed, papillate; female pedicels 5–18 long; fruit 2.3–2.5 mm longPhyllanthus microcladus
Branchlets angular to flattened, ribbed smooth; lamina convex to flat, with margins not thickened; male sepals smooth; female pedicels 2.2–5 mm long; fruit 1.8–2.2 mm long
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Phyllanthus similis
6Plants monoecious; stipules 0.3–1.6 mm long, red to black; leaves 3–11 mm long7
Plants dioecious; stipules 0.5–4.1 mm long, cream, red-brown or red; leaves 4.2–57.8 mm long
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8
7Leaves usually flat with recurved margins, 1.8–6.6 mm wide, with long scattered hairs on the margins and the midvein; weak shrubs; mainly coastal and eastern parts of the tablelandsPhyllanthus hirtellus
Leaves usually revolute or strongly recurved, 0.5–3.5 mm wide, with a dense covering of short hairs; dense compact shrub; mainly western side of the tablelands and on the western slopes
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Phyllanthus occidentalis
8Seeds distinctly granulate to tuberculate9
Seeds rugose, striate or smooth
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10
9Leaves 13.5–32.7 mm long, margins not thickened, veins slightly raised; female sepals in fruit 0.9–2 mm wide; filaments connate; styles notchedPhyllanthus maderaspatensis
Leaves 4.2–19.5 mm long, margins thickened, veins not raised; female sepals in fruit 0.3–0.7 mm wide; filaments free; styles divided for half or more of their length
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Phyllanthus virgatus
10Plants densely hairy or at least glabrescent11
Plants glabrous, rarely scabrous to papillose
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12
11Branchlets rounded in cross section; stipules 0.5–1.7 mm long; male flowers 1–3 per axil; male pedicels 0.2–2 mm long; female sepals in fruit 1.6–5.5 mm long, 1–5.3 mm wide, enlarging and enclosing fruit; hilum not distictly borderedPhyllanthus carpentariae
Branchlets elliptic to rounded in cross section; stipules 0.8–3.2 mm long; male flowers 1–7 per axil; male sepals glabrous to papillose; male pedicels 1.5–5.5 mm long; female sepals 1.1–3.6 mm long, in fruit 1–2.6 mm wide; not enlarging and enclosing fruit; hilum distinctly bordered
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Phyllanthus fuernrohrii
12Branchlets ribbed13
Branchlets not ribbed
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15
13Branchlets rounded in cross section; stipules 0.6–1.4 mm long; leaves 5.5–18 mm long, with apex obcordate to emarginate; male pedicels 0.3–1 mm long; female pedicels 1.2–6.3 mm long; female pedicels in fruit 1–7.8 mm long; seeds with extra hilar depressionPhyllanthus lacunellus
Branchlets angular to flattened in cross section; stipules 1.1–5.2 mm long; leaves 6.6–57.8 mm long, apex acuminate to acute; male pedicels 1.2–6.3 mm long; female pedicels in fruit 1–7.8 mm long; seeds without extra-hilar depression
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14
14Stipules cream to yellow-brown, with bases truncate to obtuse; leaves with veins slightly raised, margins smooth; female pedicels at anthesis 0.3–1.3 mm long; fruit 1.1–2.1 mm long; column 0.3–0.8 mm long; seeds 0.8–1.7 mm longPhyllanthus lacerosus
Stipules red-brown, with bases cordate; leaves with veins not slightly raised, lamina, margins distinctly papillate; female pedicels at anthesis 1.5–4.5 mm long; fruit 2.8–3.4 mm long; column 1.9–4.2 mm long; seeds 2–2.7 mm long
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Phyllanthus subcrenulatus
15Branchlets rounded in cross section; leaves linear to lanceolate and distinctly involute, 0.6–3.8 mm wide; male pedicels 0.4–2 mm longPhyllanthus involutus
Branchlets flattened, ellipsoid or rounded in cross section; leaves elliptic, circular, obovate or oblanceolate, flat, 2.6–20 mm wide; male pedicels 0.8–6 mm long
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16
16Shrubs to 2.5 m high; stipule apices obtuse to rounded; styles undivided; hilum markedly depressed or borderedPhyllanthus gunnii
Low shrubs or herbs to 0.4 m high; stipule apices acute to acuminate; styles variously divided; hilum markedly depressed and bordered
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Phyllanthus oblanceolatus

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