Description: Trees, shrubs or scramblers, or subshrubs; sometimes spinescent.
Leaves simple, entire or rarely toothed, usually alternate or sometimes whorled in terminal clusters, stipules absent.
Inflorescence compound, corymbose, cymose or paniculate or flowers solitary. Flowers bisexual or unisexual, ± actinomorphic, 5-merous. Sepals 5, imbricate or valvate, free or rarely fused at base. Petals 5, imbricate; often coherent over part of their length and forming a tube, or occasionally (Cheiranthera, Sollya) spreading from base. Stamens 5; filaments sometimes long and partly fused to the petals in the tubular-flowered genera, sometimes broadened (Billardiera); anthers usually free or rarely (Sollya) coherent above the stigma, dehiscing by a longitudinal slit or rarely (Cheiranthera) by apical pores. Ovary superior, sessile or stipitate, usually 1- or 2-locular, partitions sometimes incomplete or late-developing, each loculus with 1–several ovules; style single, sometimes bearing 5 glands; stigma terminal, usually rounded.
Fruit either a dry dehiscent capsule opening loculicidally (the valves sometimes also splitting septicidally) or indehiscent ± fleshy or fibrous berries; seeds several or rarely 1 in each loculus, rarely (Hymenosporum) winged, often immersed in a viscid exudate.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 9 genera, c. 250 species, mostly Australia & Malesia, also Asia to Africa. Australia: 9 genera, c. 42 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Pittosporaceae, Order: Apiales)
Resin canals in various tissues are characteristic of the family; the leaves often have a characteristic smell when crushed. Pittosporum, Hymenosporum and Bursaria have sweetly scented flowers; Hymenosporum and Sollya and several taxa of Pittosporum are commonly cultivated as ornamentals.
Text by R. O. Makinson
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Fruit dry or leathery, dehiscent capsules||2|
|Fruit succulent or fibrous, indehiscent berries or berry-like||6|
|2||Anthers mostly longer than filaments, opening by apical pores; shrubs less than 1 m high; petals blue||Cheiranthera|
|Anthers shorter than the filaments, opening by longitudinal slits; trees or erect to prostrate or dwarf shrubs; petals white, cream, yellow, or rarely reddish purple|
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|3||Petals spreading from the base, not cohering along edges; ovary and capsule distinctly stipitate; spinescent shrubs or small trees||Bursaria|
|Petals cohering over lower half or near base to form a tube, the apices only spreading; ovary and capsule sessile or shortly and obscurely stipitate (capsule pseudostipitate in Hymenosporum); trees, shrubs, or subshrubs, lacking spines or rarely (P. oreillyanum) spinescent|
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|4||Fruit with thin crustaceous valves, less than 1 cm long; low procumbent or prostrate shrubs||Rhytidosporum|
|Fruit with thick leathery valves usually more than 1 cm long; trees or shrubs more than 1 m high|
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|5||Seeds winged, not viscid; petals 3–4 cm long, hairy on outer surface||Hymenosporum|
|Seeds not winged, viscid; petals less than 2 cm long, glabrous on outer surface|
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|6||Subshrubs, twiners, scramblers or climbers, branchlets not spinescent; fruit subcylindrical to ovoid, green, brown, or purplish when fresh||Billardiera|
|Shrubs, more or less erect, branchlets usually spinescent; fruit globose, orange or dull black when fresh|
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