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Department of Botany, D.J. Sind Govt. Science College, Karachi.

Herniaria cachemiriana

Credit: Asad

Annual or perennial herbs, rarely undershrubs. Leaves usually opposite, rarely alternate or fasciculate, simple, often connate at the base, sessile or subsessile, entire; stipules interpetiolar, silvery scarious, rarely absent. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal cymose head or cluster, flowers rarely solitary terminal. Flowers minute, bisexual, actinomorphic, often perigynous, green or white; bracteate, bracts mostly scarious. Sepals 5, rarely 4, imbricate, persistent. Petals 5, rarely 4, or absent, tree, small, usually subulate-filiform. Stamens 2-5, (rarely more), alternate with petals, usually antisepalous, filaments short, free or connate at the base into a ring; anthers dithecous, dehiscence longitudinal. Carpels 1-3, syncarpous, ovary sessile, rarely stipitate, unilocular, usually one ovuled, rarely 2-4 -ovuled, placentation basal, rarely free central, ovule amphitropous or semi-anatropous, pendulous or erect; style 1, terminal, 2-3 fid, rarely 2, distinct. Fruit indehiscent, one seeded utricle or nut enclosed by persistent clayx. Seed globose to subglobose, reniform or lenticular, endosperm copious or scanty, embryo annular, curved or straight.

This family was previously included in the Caryophyllaceae from which it differs in its perigynous flowers, small subulate-filiform petals (regarded as staminodes by some authorities), basal placentation and indehiscent one seeded utricle or nut enclosed by persistent calyx.

20 genera and about 100 species; distributed in warm dry regions. 5 genera and 7 species are reported from W. Pakistan.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Messers B.L. Burtt, Ian C. Hedge of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh for their helpful suggestion and the herbarium material of Pteranthus dichotomus.

1 Undershrubs. Erect, suffrutescent   (2)
+ Herbs. Erect, procumbent or prostrate   (3)
2 (1) Leaves opposite. Sepals dorsally hooded, awned at the back. Petals setaceous. Ovary sessile, 1- ovuled. Stigmas 3   Gymnocarpos
+ Leaves fascicled. Sepals not hooded, sharp pointed mucronate. Petals oblong. ovary 2-ovuled. Stigmas 2   Sphaerocoma
3 (1) Flowers 3 in each pedunculate cymose head. The lateral flowers sterile, the central one fertile. Bracts conspicuous   (4)
+ Flowers more than 3 in each sessile dense cymose cluster. All fertile. Bracts inconspicuous   Herniaria
4 (3) Stipules subulate. Peduncle filiform. Sepals 5. petals 5. stamens 5   Cometes
+ Stipules lanceolate. Peduncle flattened, leaf like, oblanceolate or obovate. Sepals 4. Petals absent. Stamens 4   Pteranthus

Lower Taxa

Related Synonym(s):


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