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Family Asteliaceae

Description: Rhizomatous perennial herbs with tufted leaves, dioecious or bisexual; stems usually hidden; aerial parts usually covered with silvery scales and/or woolly, branched hairs.

Leaves 3-ranked, linear to lanceolate, deeply keeled; venation parallel, dense; sheath closed at base.

Inflorescence a terminal panicle or raceme, sometimes much reduced; branches subtended by foliaceous or membranous spathes; bracts membranous. Flowers unisexual or bisexual, actinomorphic, usually 3-merous or rarely 5–7-merous, sessile or pedicellate. Tepals usually 6, occasionally 10–14, in in 2 whorls, free or basally fused. Stamens 6 or 10–14; anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits, introrse. Small staminodes present in female flowers. Ovary superior or (Milligania, not in N.S.W.) semi-inferior, usually 3-locular, sometimes 1- or 5–7-locular; placentas axile or parietal; style 1 or 3, short or lacking, stigma 3–7 branched or stigmas 3. Pistillode obvious in male flowers.

Fruit a berry or (Milligania, not in N.S.W.) a capsule. Seeds few to many, with a black, glossy, hard testa.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 3 genera, c. 37 species, Southern Hemisphere: Pacific islands, South America, New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea. Australia: 3 genera (2 endemic), 8 species, N.S.W., Vic., Tas.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Asteliaceae, Order: Asparagales)

Cordyline was included in Asteliaceae in Harden, Flora of NSW 4. Cordyline is now included in Asparagaceae (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group IV, 2016). Kerry Gibbons 21 Apr. 2023.

Text by G. J. Harden; Kerry Gibbons, 26 Apr. 2023
Taxon concept: APG IV; Adapted from Harden Fl of NSW, Flora of Australia Online [accessed 24 Apr. 2023]. Distribution and occurrence: Kew Plants of the World Online; Australian Plant Census [both accessed 24 Apr. 2023].

 Key to the genera 
1Flowers unisexual, 3-merous; fruit red or orange-yellow; ST speciesAstelia
Flowers bisexual, 5–7-merous; fruit light green; NT speciesNeoastelia

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