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Family Caprifoliaceae

Synonyms: Dipsacaceae APNI*
Triplostegiaceae APNI*
Valerianaceae APNI*
Morinaceae APNI*

Description: Shrubs, small trees, annual or perennial herbs or lianas.

Leaves mostly opposite, occasionally whorled or in a basal rosette, usually simple, occasionally pinnately compound, usually petiolate, sometimes stem-clasping; margins mostly entire, occasionally toothed to pinnatifid; stipules absent (pseudostipules occasionally present).

Inflorescences cymose, simple or compound, sometimes in heads with involucral bracts at the base of the head and each flower with an epicalyx and subtended by a receptacle bract (Dipsacus, Scabiosa). Flowers zygomorphic or actinomorphic, bisexual or functionally unisexual (generally female), usually 4- or 5-merous. Calyx and corolla fused at base; calyx tubular or cupular; corolla tubular, funnel-shaped, rotate, campanulate or 2-lipped, occasionally with a spur (Centranthus). Stamens epipetalous, alternating with corolla lobes; anthers 2-locular, dehiscence by longitudinal slits. Ovary inferior; carpels 2–5 or rarely more, 1–3-locular; ovules 1–many per loculi; placentation axile; stigma simple, lobed or with thread-like branches.

Fruit a fleshy berry, a drupe, an achene or nutlet enclosed in an epicalyx or often with a persistent, sometimes pappus-like or awned calyx, or (not in Australia) a septicidal capsule. Seeds with or without endosperm.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 35 genera, c. 950 species, mostly northern temperate regions & tropical mountains. Not native to Australia, New zealand or Antarctica. Australia: 9 genera, 19 species (naturalised) , W.A., Qld, N.S.W., L.H.I., A.C.T., Vic., Tas.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Caprifoliaceae, Order: Dipsacales)

A number of species are commonly grown as ornamentals.

Text by G. J. Harden (1990); edited KL Wilson (August 2008); updated by Kerry Gibbons May 2023.
Taxon concept: APG IV; Fl NSW, Flora of Australia Online [accessed 10 May 2023], Christenhusz et al. 2017 Plants of the World (Kew Publishing: Surrey, U.K.). Key adapted from PlantNET, VicFlora, Flora Of Australia Online [accessed 19-22 May 2023].

 Key to the genera 
1Annual, biennial or perennial herbs (rarely woody at base)2
Shrubs, small trees or climbers4
2Flowers densely clustered, in flattened, daisy-like or ovoid, thistle-like heads; stamens 4; corolla without spur3
Flowers in loose, cymose inflorescences, if dense then neither daisy- nor thistle-like heads; corolla usually with spur; stamens 1
                       Back to 1
3Plant thistle-like, spiny; involucral bracts spinyDipsacus
Plant not spiny; involucral bracts leafy
                       Back to 2
4Climbers or scrambling shrubs; corolla distinctly 2-lipped, in pairs at the end of short lateral shoots in leaf axilsLonicera
Shrubs; Corolla more or less equally 5-lobed, flowers in terminal spikes or clustered in leaf axils
                       Back to 1
5Ovary 3-celled; fruit a 1-seeded narrowly oblong leathery achene crowned with persistent calycesAbelia
Ovary 4–8 celled; fruit a 2–many seeded berry or berry-like drupe
                       Back to 4
6Leaf apex attenuate or long-accuminate; conspicuous leaf-like or petaloid bracts subtending flowers within the inflorescence; fruit a many-seeded berryLeycesteria
Leaf apex acute or obtuse; inflorescences without conspicuous bracts; fruit a 2-seeded berry-like drupe
                       Back to 5

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