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Family Santalaceae

Synonyms: Viscaceae APNI*
Eremolepidaceae APNI*

Description: Shrubs, trees and herbs, semiparasitic, usually on roots, or hemiparasitic aerial stem-parasitic shrubs, glabrous or stellate-hairy; haustorial attachment single, without external runners.

Leaves opposite or alternate, rarely whorled, simple, often reduced and scale-like or apparently absent, entire, sometimes caducous, stipules absent.

Inflorescence a raceme, spike, panicle, cyme or cluster, or reduced to a single flower, axillary or terminal, usually bracteate, sometimes bracteolate. Flowers actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual and then plants monoecious or dioecious. Perianth 1-whorled; tepals 3–5 (rarely 6), valvate, inserted on a shallow to cup-like receptacle. Stamens as many as tepals and opposite them; anthers fused to tepals or to each other or free. Ovary solitary, superior or inferior, 1–5 locular with 1–5 ovules or the ovules not differentiated. Disc present, often thickened and lobed at the margin, rarely absent. Style usually very short, stigma entire or 2–5 lobed.

Fruit an indehiscent nut, drupe or berry-like, the mesocarp often somewhat fleshy, receptacle often enlarged, fleshy and coloured; seed 1, endosperm present.

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 43 genera, c. 900 species, ± cosmopolitan, chiefly tropical and warm dry regions. Australia: 14 genera, 60 species (c. 50 species endemic), all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Santalaceae, Order: Santalales)

This family concept incorporates Viscaceae, which has commonly been separated, but is embedded within Santalaceae.

Text by B. Wiecek & A.L. Quirico; updated by R.L. Barrett, Aug. 2021
Taxon concept:

 Key to the genera 
1Herbs or shrubs, with roots in soil2
Epiphytes, rootless parasites or hemiparasites on the aerial parts of other plants8
2Leaves well-developed3
Leaves reduced, rudimentary or scale-like, or absent
                       Back to 1
3Leaves alternate; ovary superiorExocarpos
Leaves opposite, rarely alternate; ovary inferior or half-inferior
                       Back to 2
4Slender perennial herbs; inflorescences 1-flowered; fruit a nut enclosed by a persistent hypanthium; peduncles united at base with the subtending leafThesium
Shrubs or small trees
                       Back to 2
5Wiry glabrous shrub; leaves absent; branches resinous and lustrousOmphacomeria
Shrubs or trees, leaves present at least on young branches though often caducous; branches neither resinous nor lustrous
                       Back to 4
6Flowers in spikes or clusters, each flower in a notch of the rachis or in the axil of a minute scale-like bract; ovary superior; fruit fleshy, pedicel often enlarged and fleshy below drupeExocarpos
Flowers in axillary racemes or clusters or solitary, subtended by a bract or bracteoles; ovary inferior or half-inferior; fruit dry or fleshy, crowned by the persistent perianth
                       Back to 5
7Flowers solitary, subtended by an often caducous bract; drupe succulentLeptomeria
Flowers clustered, occasionally solitary, subtended by 2 or more bracts; drupe scarcely succulent
                       Back to 6
8Plants leafy9
Plants apparently leafless (minute scale-like leaves present on new growth)
                       Back to 1
9Plants with a dense indumentum of dendritic and stellate hairs, especially on young parts; tepals persistent on fruitNotothixos
Plants with vegetative parts entirely glabrous; tepals not persistent on fruit
                       Back to 8
10Fruit less than 2.5 mm long, with persistent tepals; flowers in clusters at nodes, separated by bractsKorthalsella
Fruit more than 3 mm long, without persistent tepals; flowers in axillary inflorescences, subtended by bracts
                       Back to 8

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