Description: Shrubs and trees, sometimes intertwined and climbing in juvenile stages, [or rarely herbs].
Leaves simple, usually alternate, entire or toothed; stipules mostly falling early.
Inflorescence mostly cymose or racemose, or flowers in axillary clusters or solitary. Flowers actinomorphic, mostly bisexual, usually small, perigynous or epigynous. Hypanthium usually present, often shortly tubular and resembling a calyx tube. Sepals 5, triangular, inserted on the summit of the hypanthium. Petals usually 5 or absent, commonly ± hooded and surrounding the anthers. Stamens 5, opposite the petals, opening by longitudinal slits. Gynoecium commonly of 3 united carpels, ovary generally 3-locular, style often lobed; ovules solitary in each loculus.
Fruit basically drupaceous, sometimes a nut or a septicidal capsule with mericarps.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 58 genera, 900 species, cosmopolitan, chiefly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 18 genera, c. 160 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Rhamnaceae, Order: Rosales)
Some species of Ceonothus, Colletea, Discaria, Pomaderris and Rhamnus are cultivated as ornamentals.
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|Shrubs or subshrubs, sometimes intertwined and tending to climb||5|
|2||Leaves white- or rusty-hairy below; fruit blackish||Alphitonia|
|Leaves green and glabrous on both surfaces; fruit yellowish, orange or brown|
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|3||Leaves more or less ovate, opposite or alternate; fruit drupaceous, not winged||4|
|Leaves more or less lanceolate, alternate; fruit a winged nut|
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|4||Petiole less than 15 mm long; leaves mostly opposite or nearly so; fruit orange to yellowish, peduncles not swollen||Emmenosperma|
|Petiole more than 15 mm long; leaves alternate; fruit brown, peduncles swollen|
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|5||Leaves opposite, shed early; plants spiny||Discaria|
|Leaves alternate, not shed early; plants rarely spiny|
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|6||Leaves glabrous and at least 5 mm wide||7|
|Leaves with at least some hairs on the lower surface or leaves less than 3 mm wide|
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|7||Leaves lanceolate, trees often tending to climb in juvenile stages||Ventilago|
|Leaves elliptic to ovate, shrubs|
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|8||Hypanthium more or less fused to only the base of ovary, tubular and produced above the ovary and disc||Cryptandra|
|Hypanthium fused to ovary and disc, only sepals free above ovary|
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|9||Flowers sessile in heads surrounded by persistent brown bracts; petals enclosing stamens||Spyridium|
|Flowers stalked, mostly in panicles or corymbs, rarely sessile in head-like clusters, floral bracts falling early, rarely remaining till flowers open; petals absent or if present not enclosing stamens|
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