Annual, biennial or perennial herbs or less often shrublets or trees, usually with coarse hairs that arise from a tuberculate base; hairs appressed, subappressed or setose. Leaves alternate, simple, exatipulate. Inflorescence initially a scorpiod or helicoid cynic that uncoils at anthesis, sometimes spicate, loosely cymose or with solitary flowers. Flowers generally regular and bisexual or less often irregular, sometimes heterostylous. Calyx 5-lobed, often enlarging in fruit. Corolla 5 -lobed, salverform, funnelform or campanulate. Throat glabrous or with scales (appendages) or a zone of hairs, a nectiferous ring or collar sometimes present at base of corolla tube. Stamens 5, epipetalous, alternating with the corolla lobes, equal or unequal. Filaments exserted beyond the corolla tube or not. Ovary superior, 4-locular at maturity. Style gynobasic or terminal, usually simple; stigma entire or by splitting of style, 24-lobed. Fruit of 2 or 4 nutlets or drupaceous. Nutlets borne on a gynobase that is flat or raised and fused to the style base, keeled or not, attachment scar (areole) narrow or not; often differentiated into a disc and margin; margin smooth of appendiculate; surface smooth to hairy or variously ornamented.
A family of c. 100 genera and 2000 species distributed in temperate, especially mediterranean and tropical regions. Represented in Pakistan by 32 genera and 135 species of which c. 5 species of Cordia, Echium and Anchusa are cultivated.
As the flower and especially the fruit are most important diagnostically, it is helpful to elaborate and explain some of the terms used in the text. The corolla size includes the length of the tube and limb. Faucal appendages, as used in some literature is replaced here by “throat scales”. The style which is diagnostic, may sometimes be. split once or twice (Arnebia, Cordia, Ehretia etc.) and hence the term 2-fid or 4-fid. There are generally as many stigmas as there are styles.
Various terminology has been used to describe the characters of the nutlets-sometimes of an elaborate nature (M. Popov in Schischkin, Fl. URSS 19:98-100. 1953-English translation, Jerusalem, 1974). The attachment scar (cicatrice) of the nutlet is referred to here as the areole. The gynobase is that part of torus (receptacle) on which the nutlets are borne; its shape varies from flat to elongate and may bear the persistent style at its apex. When the gynobase is flat (Castrocotyle, Lycopsis, Nonea, Echium etc.) the nutlets are said to be basally attached, if ± pyramidal (Cynoglossum, Paracaryum, Solenanthus etc.) then the nutlets are ventrally attached. The nutlets may be variously oriented in relation to their plane of attachment (viz. erect, transverse or oblique). The dorsal middle area (disc) is the side that is turned towards the apex or faces the style (adaxial); it may be rimmed or crested by a thickened ring or flatmargined. The margin may be formed by the fused bases of the appendages, or the appendages may be free. Appendages are glochidiate if they are stiff and apically barbed (Heterocaryum, Cynoglossum, Lappula).
Acknowledgements: I am grateful to the Directors/Curators of the following for the loan of herbarium specimens: BM (NH), E, G, GH K, KUH, M, PES, PPFI-B, US, W. I am also thankful to Mr. I. C. Hedge (EdinbuRGH) for going though the manuscript and for his helpful advice. The financial assistance received from the United States Department of Agriculture under P1,480 is gratefully acknowledged.