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Amaranthaceae A. L. Jussieu

苋科 xian ke

Authors: Bojian Bao, Thomas Borsch & Steven E. Clemants

Herbs, clambering subshrubs, shrubs, or lianas. Leaves alternate or opposite, entire, exstipulate. Flowers small, bisexual or unisexual, or sterile and reduced, subtended by 1 membranous bract and 2 bracteoles, solitary or aggregated in cymes. Inflorescences elongated or condensed spikes (heads), racemes, or thyrsoid structures of varying complexity. Bracteoles membranous or scarious. Tepals 3-5, membranous, scarious or subleathery, 1-, 3-, 5-, or 7(-23)-veined. Stamens as many as tepals and opposite these, rarely fewer than tepals; filaments free, united into a cup at base or ± entirely into a tube, filament lobes present or absent, pseudostaminodes present or absent; anthers (1- or)2-loculed, dorsifixed, introrsely dehiscent. Ovary superior, 1-loculed; ovules 1 to many; style persistent, short and indistinct or long and slender; stigma capitate, penicillate, 2-lobed or forming 2 filiform branches. Fruit a dry utricle or a fleshy capsule, indehiscent, irregularly bursting, or circumscissile. Seeds lenticular, reniform, subglobose, or shortly cylindric, smooth or verruculose.

About 70 genera and 900 species: worldwide; 15 genera (one introduced) and 44 species (three endemic, 14 introduced) in China.

Morphology of the androecium, perianth (tepals), and the inflorescence has traditionally been used to circumscribe genera and tribes. Pseudostaminodia are interstaminal appendages with variously shaped apices. Filament appendages are the lateral appendages of filaments (one on each side). The basic structure of the inflorescence is the cyme (branchlets arising from the bracteole axils, the bracteoles serving as bracts for upper flowers), which can be reduced to one flower with two bracteoles and a bract. Units of dispersal vary considerably (capsules opening with lower part persistent, flower and bracteoles falling together, or cymose partial inflorescences breaking off above bract) and can be characteristic for genera. Several genera possess long trichomes serving dispersal at the base of the tepals.

Digera arvensis Forsskål (Fl. Aegypt.-Arab. 65. 1775) has been reported from Anhui. However, we have seen no specimens and are therefore unable to treat it in this account.

Kuan Ke-chien. 1979. Amaranthaceae. In: Kung Hsien-wu & Tsien Cho-po, eds., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 25(2): 194–241.


1 Leaves alternate.   (2)
+ Leaves opposite.   (5)
       
2 (1) Ovary with 2 to many ovules.   (3)
+ Ovary with 1 ovule.   (4)
       
3 (2) Fruit a red berry, indehiscent.   1 Deeringia
+ Fruit a utricle or capsule, dehiscent by a lid.   2 Celosia
       
4 (2) Flowers bisexual; inflorescences heads; filaments at base connate into a cup; seed with aril.   3 Allmania
+ Flowers unisexual; inflorescences complex thyrsoid structures; filaments free; seed without aril.   4 Amaranthus
       
5 (1) Flowers 2 or more in cymous partial inflorescence, sterile flowers present.   5 Cyathula
+ Flowers solitary, without any branching in axils of bracteoles, without sterile flowers.   (6)
       
6 (5) Inflorescences heads or complex thyrsoid structures; anthers 1-loculed.   (7)
+ Inflorescences spikes; anthers 2-loculed.   (10)
       
7 (6) Inflorescences complex thyrsoid structures, flowers unisexual.   11 Iresine
+ Inflorescences condensed heads, flowers bisexual.   (8)
       
8 (7) Stigma 1, capitate, pseudostaminodes present.   12 Alternanthera
+ Stigmas 2-lobed or forming 2 or 3 linear branches, pseudostaminodes absent.   (9)
       
9 (8) Bracteoles with distal crest; filaments ± fused into a tube, lateral appendages absent.   13 Gomphrena
+ Bracteoles without crest; filaments united at base, lateral appendages absent.   14 Philoxerus
       
10 (6) Pseudostaminodes fringed or long fimbriate.   (11)
+ Pseudostaminodes triangular, subulate, oblong, or absent.   (12)
       
11 (10) Midvein of bracteoles flexible, mucronate; a large woody climber.   15 Stilbanthus
+ Midvein of bracteoles spiny, long excurrent; an herb or a shrub.   9 Achyranthes
       
12 (10) Fruit dehiscent by lid.   10 Trichuriella
+ Fruit indehiscent or irregularly circumscissile.   (13)
       
13 (12) Tepals 1-veined, hairy.   6 Aerva
+ Tepals 3-7-veined, glabrous or hairy.   (14)
       
14 (13) Pseudostaminodes absent (in Chinese species); utricles indehiscent, seeds smooth.   7 Psilotrichum
+ Pseudostaminodes present, triangular; utricles irregularly bursting, seeds tuberculate.   8 Psilotrichopsis

  • List of lower taxa


     

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