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Family Ericaceae

Description: Evergreen or deciduous shrubs (scandent, viney, trees), epiphytic or not, or (echlorophyllous) herbs (rhizomatous); hair roots present, with investing fungal hyphae forming a Hartig net; indumentum a mixture or unicellular and multicellular hairs, or unicellular hairs only (glabrous); terminal bud scaly (naked) or aborting.

Leaves spiral, opposite or whorled, entire or serrate (margins strongly revolute and leaves needle-like ["ericoid"]), estipulate.

Inflorescences terminal or axillary (flowers single), usually racemose; flowers usually conspicuous, hermaphroditic (functionally unisexual), polysymmetrical (bisymmetrical), bracteoles 2 or several (0); sepals (2-)4–5(-7), fused at the very base; petals (3) 4–5(-7), fused (fused as a cap; free); stamens (2-)5, 8, 10(-16), free from the corolla (adnate); anthers tetrasporangiate, inverting during development, with 2 (4) apparently terminal or dorsal appendages or not, dehiscence introrse or terminal (latrorse, extrorse), pores or short (long) slits, endothecium lacking (present), pollen in tetrahedral tetrads (monads); nectary present (absent); ovary superior to inferior, (1-)4–5(-12)-carpellate, placentation axile to intruded parietal (apical, basal), ovules (1-)8/carpel, anatropous to subcampylotropous, unitegmic, tenui¬nucellate; style usually about as long as corolla, hollow (expanded at the apex), stigma punctate to lobed.

Fruit a berry, drupe, or capsule (calyx fleshy); seeds small to minute, testa usually single-layered, variously winged or not; embryo straight, fusiform (embryo minute, undifferentiated), endosperm cellular, fleshy, well developed, with haustoria at both ends; germination epigeal.

Distribution and occurrence: Cosmopolitian family. c. 3850 species world wide.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Ericaceae, Order: Ericales)

Ericaceae is divided into 8 subfamilies; 4 subfamiles occur in NSW. Most of our native species occur in the subfamily Epacridoideae, and the genus Gaultheria in subfamily Vaccinioideae. Introduced species of Erica and Rhododendron are in subfamily Ericoideae; Arbutus unedo (the Strawberry Tree) is in subfamily Arbutiodeae. The subfamilies are not decribed here.

Text by From Kron et al. (2002) Phylogenetic classification of Ericaceae: molecular and morphological evidence. The Botanical Review 68: 335-423. Quinn, C.J. et al. (2005) Australian Systematic Botany 18, 439-454.
Taxon concept: Kron et al. 2002.

 Key to the genera 
1Leaves with only 1 main longitudinal vein2
Leaves with 3–7 main longitudinal veins5
2Flowers 5-merous; leaves ovate or ovate-lanceolate, greater than 10 mm long3
Flowers 4-merous; leaves linear, less than 10 mm long
                       Back to 1
3Leaves alternate4
Leaves whorled
                       Back to 2
4Leaves with toothed marginsArbutus
Leaves with entire margins
                       Back to 3
5Stems with annular leaf scars6
Stems without annular leaf scars
                       Back to 1
6Corolla ovoid or conical, forming a 'cap' that splits near the base and is shed as the anthers expand, lobes not openingRichea
Corolla with broad cylindrical or campanulate tube, the lobes spreading or recurved
                       Back to 5
7Leaves sheathingSprengelia
Leaves not sheathing
                       Back to 5
8Style inserted in depression at apex of ovary; fruit a loculicidal capsule9
Style attenuate from the ovary, fruit a drupe or sometimes the endocarp separating into pyrenes
                       Back to 7
9Corolla lobes contorted in budWoollsia
Corolla lobes imbricate but not contorted in bud
                       Back to 8
10Filaments inserted in throat; anthers erect or spreading, dehiscing longitudinally11
Filaments inserted at base of corolla tube; anthers converging around the style, dehiscing by apical slit
                       Back to 9
11Filaments shorter than anthers; anthers versatile, attached to filament about the middleEpacris
Filaments longer than anthers; anthers fused to upper part of filament
                       Back to 10
12Corolla lobes valvate in bud13
Corolla lobes basally or apically imbricate in bud
                       Back to 8
13Anthers on long filaments, well exserted from the tube; corolla lobes revoluteStyphelia
Anthers on short filaments, just exserted or partly or wholly enclosed in tube; lobes erect to spreading
                       Back to 12
14Corolla tube with hairs or scales inside below the middle15
Corolla tube glabrous below the middle
                       Back to 13
15Corolla tube short and broad; lobes spreading; 5 glandular scales present near base of tubeMelichrus
Corolla tube elongated, cylindrical; lobes erect at base, spreading above; 5 tufts of hairs or ciliate scales inside, sometimes confluent in a ring, rarely glabrous
                       Back to 14
16Flowers pedicellate, the subtending bract and bracteoles inserted some distance from the calyxLissanthe
Flowers sessile, the subtending bracts and bracteoles inserted immediately below the calyx
                       Back to 14
17Drupaceous fruit with endocarp not separating into pyrenes18
Drupaceous fruit with endocarp separating into pyrenes
                       Back to 16
18Corolla lobes glabrous or sometimes papilloseMonotoca
Corolla lobes hairy
                       Back to 17
19Corolla lobes with erect tuft of hairs near apex, fine hairs at throat; flowers yellow-green or greenAcrotriche
Corolla lobes sparsely to densely bearded; flowers white, cream or red
                       Back to 18
20Flowers bisexual; corolla lobes usually longer or equal to tube; anthers usually with a sterile tip; mostly from lowland and montane areas21
Flowers unisexual; corolla lobes shorter or subequal to tube; anthers without sterile tip; alpine and subalpine areas
                       Back to 19
21Ovary 2–5-locularLeucopogon
Ovary 5–10-locular
                       Back to 20
22Corolla lobes basally imbricate; drupaceous fruit with endocarp not separating into pyrenesBrachyloma
Corolla lobes apically imbricate; drupaceous fruit with endocarp separating into pyrenes
                       Back to 12

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