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Family Colchicaceae

Synonyms: Uvulariaceae APNI*

Description: Erect or sometimes climbing herbs with rhizomes or corms.

Leaves few and basal or numerous and scattered along an erect aerial stem, mostly linear to lanceolate, dorsiventral, lamina usually with numerous longitudinal veins; stipules absent.

Inflorescence terminal on herbaceous stem, racemose, cymose or rarely flowers solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, 3-merous, bisexual or more rarely unisexual and than plants dioecious or polygamous. Tepals 6, in 2 whorls, ± similar in size and shape, free or basally fused. Nectaries present at base of tepals. Stamens usually 6; filaments free; anthers usually extrorse, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, 3-locular; ovule several–many per loculus; styles 3, or style 3-lobed.

Fruit capsular; seeds few–many.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 15 genera, 285 species, widespread, Africa, Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, New Zealand. Australia: 5 native genera, c. 35 species, all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Colchicaceae, Order: Liliales)

These genera have often been included in the Liliaceae s. lat. but are supported as a distinct family in all recent classifications. Members of this family contain tropolonic alkaloids, including the toxic colchicine.

Text by G.J. Harden. Updated by R.L. Barrett, Apr. 2021.
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Schelhammera,    Tripladenia

 Key to the genera 
1Leaves ending in a tendril; tepals 5–8 cm longGloriosa
Leaves not ending in a tendril; tepals less than 5 cm long2
2Inflorescence an umbel; capsule septicidalBurchardia
Inflorescence either not an umbel or flowers solitary; capsule loculicidal
                       Back to 1
3Tepals with 1 or 2 nectaries on inner surface; capsule 2.5–10 mm longWurmbea
Tepals without nectaries; capsule more than 10 mm long
                       Back to 2

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