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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 5 | Amaranthaceae

12. Alternanthera Forsskål, Fl. Aegypt.-Arab. 28. 1775.

莲子草属 lian zi cao shu

Herbs annual or perennial, ascending or creeping; stem much branched. Leaves opposite, margin entire. Flowers perfect, in sessile or peduncled heads, solitary in axils of bracts. Bracts and bracteoles persistent, membranous. Tepals 5, often unequal, membranous. Stamens 2-5; filaments connate into a tube or a cup at base; anthers 1-loculed; pseudostaminodes entire, dentate, or laciniate. Ovary globose or ovoid; ovule 1, pendulous; style short or long; stigma capitate. Utricles globose or ovoid, indehiscent, falling off with perianth. Seeds lenticular, vertical.

About 200 species: mainly in North and South America, widely naturalized elsewhere; five species (four introduced) in China.

Alternanthera purpurea Y. T. Chang & M. J. Lai (Landscape Architecture [Taipei] [1] (4): 125. 1990, not Pynaert, 1879) was described from Taiwan. We have seen no specimens of this taxon and are therefore unable to treat it in this account. Further revisionary study is necessary.

1 Heads with a peduncle, axillary.   5 A. philoxeroides
+ Heads all sessile, axillary, rarely terminal.   (2)
2 (1) Tepals abaxially glabrous.   (3)
+ Tepals abaxially hairy.   (4)
3 (2) Stamens 3; midvein of tepals not spiny at apex.   1 A. sessilis
+ Stamens 5; midvein of tepals becoming spiny at apex.   2 A. pungens
4 (2) Stem ascending or erect; pseudostaminodes ca. as long as stamens.   3 A. bettzickiana
+ Stem prostrate; staminodes ca. 1/2 as long as stamens.   4 A. paronychioides

Lower Taxa


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