KAMAL AKHTER MALIK
Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi-32.
Perennial herbs or twiners. Stem slender, fleshy, glabrous. Rhizome sometimes with fleshy tubers. Leaves simple, alternate, entire, often succulent, sessile or petiolate, exstipulate. Inflorescence of spikes, panicles or clusters. Flowers regular, bisexual or sometimes unisexual, sessile or pedicellate, bracteate; bracteoles 2 or 4. Perianth uniseriate. Sepals 5, often coloured, sometimes united basally, imbricate, persistent in fruit. Stamens 5, inserted opposite the sepals and adnate to their bases; anthers 4-locular, introrse, dehiscing longitudinally, filaments free, distinct, short. Ovary superior or half-inferior, 1, locular. Carpels 3; ovule one; placentation basal; styles usually 3; stigma 3 or 1. Fruit baccate or a drupe, sometimes winged. Seeds with spiral or folded-embryo, perisperm sparse.
A family of 4 genera and c. 25 species, distributed in tropics of the new and old World. Represented here by one cultivated species. The family is allied with Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae,Portulacaceae and Phytolaccaceae i.e. the Centrospermae.
Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Mr. I.C. Hedge (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh) for going through the manuscript and offering helpful suggestions. The financial assistance received from the United States Department of Agriculture under PL 480 with the coordination of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad, is thankfully acknowledged.