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Family Verbenaceae

Description: Trees, shrubs or herbs; stem and branches terete or often 4-angled, without spines or prickles (in N.S.W.).

Leaves decussate, somtimes whorled, or rarely alternate, sessile or petiolate, simple or compound; stipules absent.

Inflorescences usually racemose, dense or lax; inflorescence-units solitary, sometimes spike- or head-like. Flowers usually more or less zygomorphic or almost actinomorphic, 4- or 5-merous. Calyx tubular or campanulate, usually 4- or 5-lobed or -toothed, sometimes annular or subtruncate. Corolla tubular, more or less zygomorphic, 4- or 5-lobed. Stamens epipetalous, 4, rarely 5; anthers 2-locular, dehiscing by longitudinal slits. Ovary superior, usually glabrous, entire or 4-lobed, 2-locular (in N.S.W.), carpels 2; ovules 1 or 2 per locule, style terminal, simple with 2 stigmatic lobes.

Fruit drupaceous and indehiscent or schizocarpic and dehiscent into two or four 1-seeded mericarps.

Distribution and occurrence: World: 34 genera, c. 1200 species, mainly tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 3 genera, c. 15 species, all States.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Verbenaceae, Order: Lamiales)

The Verbenaceae are distinguished by having a 2- or 4-loculate gynoecium; by the inrolling of the the carpel margin; by ovules being attached to the margins; 2 ovlues per carpel, by tricolporate pollen, by thickened stigmatic tissue, by a racemose inforescence and with the corolla salverform or funnel-shaped. In Australia, the following genera have been transferred from the Verbenaceae to the Lamiaceae, namely: Callicarpa, Clerodendrum, Oncinocalyx, Premna, and Vitex.

Text by B. J. Conn (2007)
Taxon concept: S. Atkins (2004)

 Key to the genera 
1Fruit fleshy; flowers more than 8 mm long and arranged in heads; leaves distinctly petiolate, or shortly so2
Fruit dry; flowers less than 8 mm long, but if more then arranged in elongated spikes; leaves variable but not as above3
2Flowers arranged in elongated spikes, 10–30 cm long; fruit (5-)7–10(-14) mm diam., enclosed by an orange-coloured calyx; leaves ovate, elliptic or obovateDuranta
Flowers arranged in heads, up to 3 cm diam.; fruit 4–6 mm diam., purplish black, not enclosed by coloured calyx; leaves more or less ovate
                       Back to 1
3Herbs with trailing or ascending branches and leaves not divided into segments; fruit separating into two mericarpsPhyla
Herbs with erect branches or occasionally branches trailing and then leaves divided into segments; fruit separating into four mericarps
                       Back to 1
4Inflorescence a simple spike or panicle of spikes, often branched; style short, up to 3 times as long as ovaryVerbena
Inflorescence a contracted head, unbranched; style long, more than 3 times as long as ovary
                       Back to 3

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