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Family Restionaceae

Description: Perennial herbs with a rush- or sedge-like habit; tufted or with creeping rhizomes, usually covered with closely imbricate scales. Stems (culms) green, terete to angular or flattened, simple or branched, straight or flexuous, solid or hollow.

Leaves in adult plants reduced to sheathing scales, sometimes with a small linear or subulate lamina; sheath closely imbricate or loose, margins overlapping, at least at the base.

Flowers usually in spikelets with imbricate rigid glumes, some of the outer ones usually empty; in several genera the flowers not in definite spikelets but in branched racemose panicle-like inflorescences with the glumes not or scarcely imbricate; spikelets, when present, 1–many-flowered, either similar or different in the 2 sexes, solitary and terminal, or axillary, or arranged in a racemose inflorescence. Male and female inflorescences either similar or considerably different. Flowers usually actinomorphic, 3- or 2-merous, bisexual or more usually unisexual and plants dioecious, a few species bisexual or monoecious, small, each in the axil of a ± scarious glume; bracteoles 1 or 2, or more commonly absent. Perianth in 2 whorls, rarely absent; tepals 3–6, glume-like or scarious erect. Male stamens 3 (or 2 or 6), opposite the inner tepals; filaments free and filiform or rarely short; anthers 1-locular [rarely 2-locular], dorsifixed, dehiscenceby longitudinal slits; rudimentary ovary sometimes present. Female staminodes 2, 3, or absent; ovary superior, sessile or shortly stipitate, 1–3-locular according to the number of carpels fully developed; styles 1–3; ovule solitary in each loculus, pendulous.

Fruit a loculicidal capsule, 2- or 3-angled or 1-locular, or a small nut.

Photo J. & P. Edwards

Photo J. R. Hosking

Distribution and occurrence: World: 30 genera, 550 species, all except 1 species Southern Hemisphere, with main centres of diversity in southern Africa & SW Australia, also in E Australia, New Zealand, Malesia & Chile. Australia: 20 genera, c. 130 species, all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Restionaceae, Order: Poales)

Restionaceae characteristically occur on sandy or peaty soils low in nutrients, often in seasonally wet sites. The classification of Australian Restionaceae is under review (L. A. S. Johnson, B. G. Briggs & H. P. Linder, unpublished). The present treatment retains some names that will be changed when this work is completed. In particular the species known is Australia as Restio are not closely allied to the true Restio species of South Africa, and the Australian 'Restio' species include several groups that warrant generic rank. It is expected that the generic name Baloskion Raf. will be the name applied to N.S.W. species now placed in Restio except that R. complanatus will be placed in a separate genus (together with a number of Western Australian species). Similarly, some species now placed in Lepyrodia will be transferred to the new genus Sporadanthus F. Muell.

Text by A. L. Quirico & B. G. Briggs
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Chordifex,    Eurychorda,    Sporadanthus

 Key to the genera 
1Ovary 2- or 3-locular; styles and style branches 2 or 3; fruit a capsule2
Ovary and fruit 1-locular; styles and style branches 1 or 3; fruit a nut or, rarely, splitting down one side3
2Flowers not in spikelets, inflorescence more or less loose and panicle-like, the lateral branches sometimes reduced to almost sessile clusters and the inflorescence often spike-like; glumes loose, not closely imbricate, often shorter than the tepals; bracteoles 1 or 2; ovary 3-locular; styles or style branches 3Lepyrodia
Flowers in both sexes arranged closely in spikelets or, if the female spikelets are 1-flowered, then the flower surrounded by imbricate sterile glumes; glumes longer than the tepals; bracteoles absent; ovary 2-locular; styles or style branches 2
                       Back to 1
3Plants monoecious; male spikelet terminal, solitary; female spikelets solitary in the axils near the base of the culm; style 1, undividedColeocarya
Plants dioecious; styles branches 3
                       Back to 2
4Female spikelets axillary, 1-flowered with several sterile glumes; upper leaf sheaths green, with a spreading or reflexed subulate tipEmpodisma
Female spikelet terminal; leaf sheaths not as above
                       Back to 3
5Female spikelets several-flowered; culms mostly unbranched except within the inflorescence, straight, not conspicuously striateLeptocarpus
Female spikelets 1-flowered; culms mostly much-branched, often flexuous, striate
                       Back to 4
1Bracteoles present; flowers not in definite spikelets, more or less loosely arranged in panicle-like inflorescence, but the branches sometimes reduced to more or less sessile clusters and the panicle often becoming spike-likeLepyrodia
Bracteoles absent; flowers in spikelets2
2Monoecious; male spikelets terminal and solitary; female spikelets solitary in the axils near the base of the culmColeocarya
Dioecious; male spikelets axillary or terminal, female spikelets terminal or axillary, solitary of more than 2 together, similar or dissimilar to male spikelets
                       Back to 1
3Male spikelets axillary; upper leaf sheaths green with a spreading or reflexed, subulate tipEmpodisma
Male spikelets either terminal (solitary or in an inflorescence) or if axillary then leaf sheaths not as in 3
                       Back to 2
4Male inflorescence or individual spikelets erect or if drooping then spikelets 3–5 mm diam.; anthers exsertedBaloskion
Male inflorescence or individual spikelets nodding or drooping; spikelets less than 3 mm diam.; anthers not exserted
                       Back to 3
5Culms mostly unbranched, straight, smooth, greyish with closely appressed, minute, scale-like trichomes; spikelets c. 1 mm diam., 3–4 mm longLeptocarpus
Culms mostly branched, often flexuous, striate, hoary-tomentose when young; spikelets c. 2 mm diam., up to 8 mm long
                       Back to 4

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