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Chinese Plant Names | Family List | Gnetaceae

Gnetum Linn.


Description from Flora of China

Morphological characters and geographical distribution are the same as those of the family.

Gnetum cleistostachyum C. Y. Cheng, in W. C. Cheng & al., Acta Phytotax. Sin. 13(4): 88. 1975, was described from SE Yunnan (Hekou Yaozu Zizhixian), but the name is invalid because the protologue indicated two collections (male and female) as types. It was based on material just at the start of anthesis, with rather deep, ± urceolate involucral collars tightly enclosing the flowers. Very little material of other species, at a similar developmental stage, was available for comparison, and it seems advisable to postpone validating this name until more complete collections, particularly with seeds, can be studied.

The name Gnetum indicum (Loureiro) Merrill IInterpr. Herb. Amboin. 77. 1917), based on Abutua indica Loureiro (Fl. Cochinch. 630. 1790), has been applied in the sense of G. Montanum, but may in fact be the correct name for G. parvifolium. The taxonomic identity of G. indicum has often been questioned, and many herbaria followed F. Markgraf (Bull. Jard. Bot. Buitenzorg, sér. 3, 10: 406. 1930), who dismissed it as being of uncertain application and placed most material so named in his new species, G. montanum. Type material of Loureiro’s original species is available, including part of a seed not seen by Markgraf, which shows that it is not the same as G. montanum, even in the very wide sense used by Markgraf, but closely resembles the species widely known as G. parvifolium (in the sense of which it has never been used). In order to prevent the name G. parvifolium from being displaced, it seems best to follow Markgraf and formally propose that A. indica be rejected. It is also necessary to conserve, by lectotypification, the current application of G. Montanum (see below).

Many species are used in a variety of ways: the bark provides a strong fiber used for making ropes and nets; the sap flows very freely from cut stems and can be drunk to quench thirst; the young leaves of some species are used as a green vegetable; and the seeds are roasted and eaten (the outer, fleshy layer contains irritant, needlelike crystals, and is not generally eaten).

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