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Family Menispermaceae

Description: Climbers, [rarely shrubs or trees], mostly dioecious.

Leaves alternate, mostly simple and entire, often palmately veined; stipules absent.

Inflorescence axillary, cymose, umbellate, racemose or paniculate. Flowers actinomorphic, unisexual, inconspicuous. Sepals and petals commonly 3–6, free, petals usually shorter than the sepals. Male flowers with 2, 6, or 9 stamens, sometimes fused. Female flowers with or without staminodes, carpels superior, free, 3 or 6, or rarely carpel solitary; ovules 2, but 1 aborts; stigma terminal, becoming displaced towards base during fruit development.

Fruit a cluster of drupes.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 70 genera, 400 species, tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 13 genera, 24 species, Qld, N.S.W., Vic., N.T., W.A., chiefly tropical

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Menispermaceae, Order: Ranunculales)

Text by G. J. Harden (1990); edited KL Wilson (June 2010)
Taxon concept:

 Key to the genera 
1Leaves distinctly peltate2
Leaves not peltate3
2Stems bearing pricklesEchinostephia
Stems without prickles
                       Back to 1
3Leaves palmately veined with 5–7, rarely 3, main veins radiating from near the base of the lamina; petiole usually at least half as long as lamina, mostly more than 5 cm long4
Leaves pinnately veined, rarely 3-veined from base; petiole mostly less than one-third as long as lamina, mostly less than 4 cm long
                       Back to 1
4Leaves with lamina more or less circular, usually cordate at base; upper surface mostly glabrous and dark green, lower surface very pale green or ashy-green and often hairy; petiole frequently longer than lamina, at least three-quarters as long as lamina; inflorescence a dichasial cymeLegnephora
Leaves with lamina broad-ovate to broad-triangular, sometimes ovate, often cordate at base, sometimes hastate or rounded; glabrous and green on both surfaces; petiole usually shorter than lamina, mostly half to three-quarters as long; inflorescence raceme-like or a panicle
                       Back to 3
5Leaves with lamina palmately 7-veined from base, the inner pair extending at least three-quarters of the way up the lamina, the outer pair sometimes obscure and more or less fused with the margin; base of lamina usually deeply cordate; widespread, not confined to rainforestSarcopetalum
Leaves with lamina palmately 5- or rarely 3-veined from base, the inner pair extending less than half way up the lamina; base of lamina truncate, rounded, cordate or hastate; confined to rainforest north of the Richmond R
                       Back to 4
6Leaves glabrous or almost so on both surfaces7
Leaves hairy at least on lower surface
                       Back to 3
7Leaves with base of lamina hastate or cordate. (Juvenile leaves of Tinospora tinosporoides have lamina narrow-oblong to narrow-lanceolate.)Tinospora
Leaves with base of lamina rounded to truncate
                       Back to 6
8Leaves with lamina narrow-oblong to narrow-elliptic, more than 4 times as long as wide, usually more than 8 cm long; young shoots and petioles brown-pubescentCarronia
Leaves with lamina ovate to lanceolate, less than 4 times as long as wide, less than 8 cm long; young shoots and petioles glabrous
                       Back to 7
9Leaves with more than 6 pairs of secondary veinsCarronia
Leaves with less than 6 pairs of secondary veins
                       Back to 6

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