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National Herbarium, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad.

Perennial or rarely annual, dwarf scapose herbs. Leaves radical, linear, usually crowded at the base. Scape erect. Flowers unisexual, actinomorphic, numerous, small, sessile or shortly pedicellate on a variously shaped receptacle; the male and the female flowers often mixed in dense terminal capitula, rarely on separate heads. Perianth scarious or membranous, 2-3-merous in 2 whorls, the outer free or rarely partially connate, the inner cupular or sometimes absent. Male flowers: stamens free, opposite the segments, the same or twice (4-6), the number of perianth segments; anther 1-2-celled, dehiscing longitudinally. Female flowers: ovary superior, 2-3-locular with a single orthotropous, pendulus ovule in each locule. Style long, stigma 2-3-fid. Fruit a loculicidal capsule. Seeds endospermic.

A family with 13 genera and about 1150 species (Willis, Dict. Fl. Pl. & Ferns. 429. 1973), chiefly tropical or subtropical in distribution. Eriocaulaceae is related to Commelinaceae, but is considered to be more advanced. The Xyridaceae, Rapatiaceae and Eriocaulaceae are considered the ‘Compositae’ of the Monocotyledons (Hutch., Fam. Fl. Plants. 32.1973). Represented in Pakistan by a single genus.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under PL-480. We are also grateful to the Director, Herbarium British Museum, London for the loan of material and to Mr. I.C. Hedge, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and Dr. HN. Moldenke for going through the manuscript and for giving valuable suggestions.

Lower Taxon


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