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Pakistan | Family List



Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi-75270.

Mostly monoecious, more rarely hermaphroditic or dioecious trees, shrubs and vines. Underground perennial rhizome sometimes present or more commonly the trunk above ground, erect or climbing. Stem usually single or bearing side branches, rarely forked or profusely branched, smooth, ringed or covered with remains of petiole bases and dead leaves. Leaves pinnately or palmately ribbed or divided, sometimes very large; blades mostly folded, with numerous longitudinal nerves splitting induplicately or reduplicately, sometimes sharp at the apex and prickly on the margins or midrib; petiole base persisting or not and often spreading about or sheathing the trunk, in some genera much expanded and basally enveloping terminal bud and then forming a “crownshaft”. Inflorescence usually paniculate, enclosed by one or more bracts in bud condition. Bracts coriaceous or membranous, sometimes sheathing the lateral branches of the inflorescence; bracteoles sometimes connate below the flowers. Flowers small, actinomorphic, usually sessile, sometimes subsessile or pedicelled. Perianth of 6 segments, biseriate or rarely uniseriate, calyx and corolla usually 3-lobed, free or united; sepals generally imbricate or open in bud; petals generally valvate in the male and imbricate in the female flower. Stamens usually 6, sometimes 3, 9 or numerous; anthers 2-celled, dehiscing by vertical slits; filaments distinct, usually short. Carpels usually (1-)3(-more), distinct or variously united, rudimentary or absent in male flowers; ovary superior, 1-3-loculed or rarely 4-10-loculed, having a single ovule in each locule; ovule basal, axile or pendulous. Fruit usually a berry or drupe, epicarp smooth, tubercled, prickly or scaly, mesocarp often fibrous, endocarp often present, thick and woody. Seeds with a small embryo and a large homogeneous or ruminate endosperm.

A large family of c. 200-210 genera and about 2,800 species, mainly in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world; represented in Pakistan by 16 genera and 18 species of which only two genera and three species are wild.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Late Harold E. Moore Jr. (L.H. Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University, Ithaca) and Dr. John Dransfield (Royle Botanic Gardens, Kew) for kindly going through the manuscript and offering suggestions for its improvement. The financial assistance received from the United States Department of Agriculture under P.L. 480 with the coordination of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Islamabad, is thankfully acknowledged.

1 Leaves palmate (Fan palms)   (2)
+ Leaves pinnate or bipinnate (Feather palms)   (9)
2 (1) Trunk branched   (3)
+ Trunk unbranched (in our species)   (4)
3 (2) Flowers small. Sessile or the rachillae bi-or unisexual; plant 2-4)(-6) m tall with prostrate branching rhizome or stem; petiole unarmed; wild   9 Nannorrhops
+ Flowers sunken in pits in thickend rachillae; stem dichotomously branched; petiole armed with large spines; cultivated   7 Hyphaene
4 (2) Fruits large, c. 20 cm long; edible   2 Borassus
+ Fruits small, less than 2 cm long; not edible   (5)
5 (4) Carpels distinct; flowers normally unisexual   (6)
+ Carpels connate by styles or throughout; flowers normally bisexual   (7)
6 (5) Trunk 1.5(-3) m tall, 2.5-5 cm in diameter; filaments or staminodes adnate to petals   12 Rhapis
+ Trunk 5-25 m tall, 30-75 cm in diameter; filaments distinct, not adnate to petals   15 Trachycarpus
7 (5) Carpels connate throughout; petiole margin smooth   14 Sabal
+ Carpels connate by styles only; petiole margin spiny   (8)
8 (7) Trunk massive and columnar; dead leaves hanging and persisting as a covering shag, bracts of inflorescence flattened and flaring   16 Washingtonia
+ Trunk more or less slender, not massive and columnar; shag not covering the bole unless perhaps at top; bracts of inflorescence tubular, not flaring   8 Livistona
9 (1) Lower pinnae spine-like   10 Phoenix
+ Lower pinnae not spine-like   (10)
10 (9) Stem climbing; leaf spiny   3 Calamus
+ Stem erect; leaf not spiny   (11)
11 (10) Fruit 25 cm long or more; endocarp 3-pored   6 Cocos
+ Fruit less than 25 cm long; endocarp not 3-pored   (12)
12 (11) Leaves bipinnate; inflorescence with numerous fibrous bracts   4 Caryota
+ Leaves pinnate; inflorescence with two bracts only   (13)
13 (12) Staminate flowers with numerous stamens; seeds 3-5-angled in cross section   11 Ptychosperma
+ Staminate flowers with 6(9) stamens; seeds terete in cross section   (14)
14 (13) Pistillate flowers larger than staminate, borne at base of rachillae; leaves with several ribbed pinnae   1 Areca
+ Pistillate flowers smaller than staminate, borne nearly throughout rachillae   (15)
15 (14) Stem very stout, solitary; flowers bisexual with connate petals   13 Roystonea
+ Stem slender, clustered; female flowers with distinct petals   5 Chrysalidocarpus

  • List of lower taxa


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