Trees, shrubs, or vines, climbers rarely herbs. Leaves opposite, alternate, or whorled, simple or pinnately compound, rarely palmately compound, without stipules, climbers usually with tendrils modified sometimes into hooks or suckers. Inflorescences cymose, paniculate, or racemose, terminal or axillary, rarely flowers borne on old stems; bracts and bractlets present, sometimes deciduous. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, usually large. Calyx campanulate or tubular, truncate, 2-5-dentate, or glandular subulate-dentate. Corolla campanulate or funnelform, usually bilabiate; lobes 5, imbricate or valvate. Fertile stamens 4 (didynamous) and staminode 1, or 2 and staminodes 3, rarely all 5 stamens fertile. Disc fleshy. Ovary superior, 2-locular, rarely 1- or 4-locular; placentation axile or parietal; ovules numerous. Style filiform; stigma 2-lobed. Capsule dehiscing loculicidally or septicidally, rarely fruit fleshy and indehiscent. Seeds numerous, usually winged or with tufts of hairs at both ends; endosperm absent.
About 116-120 genera and 650-750 species: mostly in tropical and subtropical regions; 12 genera and 35 species (21 endemic) in China.
Plants of the Bignoniaceae usually produce large flowers, and many species are widely cultivated in China as ornamentals. These include Arrabidaea magnifica Sprague ex Steenis, Campsis radicans (Linnaeus) Seemann, Catalpa speciosa (Warder ex Barney) Engelmann, Clytostoma callistegioides (Chamisso) Bureau & Schumann, Crescentia alata Kunth, C. cujete Linnaeus, Jacaranda cuspidifolia Martius, J. mimosifolia D. Don, Kigelia africana (Lamarck) Bentham, Macfadyena unguis-cati (Linnaeus) A. H. Gentry, Pandorea jasminoides (Linnaeus) Schumann, Parmetiera cerifera Seemann, Podranea ricasoliana (Tanfani) Sprague, Pyrostegia venusta (Ker-Gawler) Miers, Spathodea campanulata Beauvois, Stenolobium stans (Linnaeus) Seemann, Tabebuia chrysantha (Jacquin) G. Nicholson, T. rosea (Bertoloni) de Candolle, and Tecomaria capensis (Thunberg) Spach.
Dolichandrone spathacea (L. f.) Schumann has recently been reported from Hainan (Yaichou, Wanning, Wenchan) and maritime Guangdong (see A Checklist of Flowering Plants of Isl. and Reefs of Hainan and Guangdong Province, 1994), but we have not examined Chinese material of the species.
Tao Deding & Yin Wenqing. 1990. Bignoniaceae. In: Wang Wentsai, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 69: 1-62.