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Urticaceae

ABDUL GHAFOOR


Herbarium, Department of Botany,

Al-Faateh University, Tripoli, Libya

Parietaria alsinaefolia
Illustration

Credit: M. Rafiq

Mostly herbs or undershrubs, with or without stinging hairs. Leaves simple, stipulate, rarely exstipulate, alternate or opposite, often with dot-like or linear cystoliths. Inflorescence axillary, cymose or fasciculate, rarely flowers solitary. Flowers minute, usually greenish, unisexual (Plants monoecious or dioecious), actinomorphic, hypogynous. Calyx (3-) 4-5-lobed, often enlarged in fruit, rarely absent in female flowers; lobes equal or unequal, imbricate or valvate, rarely sepals free. Petals absent. Stamens (3-) 4-5, rarely solitary, antisepalous, generally inflexed in bud; anthers dithecous, dehiscence longitudinal; staminodes scaly or absent in female flowers. Ovary monocarpellary, free or rarely adnate to calyx, unilocular, uniovulate, ovule orthotropous, erect or ascending, pseudobasal, rarely apical; style simple, stigma capitate and mostly penicillate; pistillode present in male flowers. Fruit a monospermous achene or fleshy drupe, more or less enveloped by persistent membranous calyx. Seed albuminous, embryo straight.

A family of about 45 genera and nearly 600 species; widely distributed in tropics, subtropics and temperate regions in all the continents.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Mr. I.C. Hedge and Miss J. Lamond of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, for their helpful suggestions.


1 Plants with stinging hairs or prickles   (2)
+ Plants without stinging hairs   (3)
       
2 (1) Leaves opposite, (3-) 5-7-costate. Sepals imbricate. Stigma capitate, penicillate   Urtica
+ Leaves alternate, 3-costate. Sepals valvate. Stigma subulate, minutely papillose   Girardinia
       
3 (1) Stamen one. Calyx absent in female flowers   Forsskaolea
+ Stamens more than one. Calyx present in female flowers   (4)
       
4 (3) Leaves exstipulate   Parietaria
+ Leaves stipulate   (5)
       
5 (4) Stipules free lateral; not interpetiolar. Style filiform, laterally stigmatic   (6)
+ Stipules connate, interpetiolar. Style absent (rarely present but short), stigma penicillate   (7)
       
6 (5) Leaves serrate. Inflorescence of spicate or paniculate globose clusters of flowers   Boehmeria
+ Leaves entire. Inflorescence of axillary, cymose sessile clusters of flowers   Pouzolzia
       
7 (5) Leaves silvery or greyish-tomentose beneath. Fruiting calyx fleshy   Debregeasia
+ Leaves green beneath. Fruiting calyx not or slightly fleshy   (8)
       
8 (7) Calyx lobes of male flowers horned outside below the apex. Staminodes scale like and inflexed in the female flowers   Pilea
+ Calyx lobes of male flowers not as above. Staminodes absent or not inflexed in the female flowers   (9)
       
9 (8) Herbs, annual or perennial. Leaves opposite, anisophyllous. Achenes not adnate to but partly enveloped by calyx   Lecanthus
+ Trees or shrubs. Leaves alternate, not anisophyllous. Achenes adnate to and completely enveloped by slightly fleshy calyx   Villebrunea

Lower Taxa

Related Synonym(s):


 

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