Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 108, Issue 1, pp 97–106 | Cite as

Embryology and systematics of Euphorbiaceaesens. lat.: a review and perspective

  • Toru Tokuoka
  • Hiroshi Tobe
Original Articles


Based on a literature survey, we present a review of the embryology of Euphorbiaceaesensu Webster (with about 8,000 species in five subfamilies), which are one of the largest and most diversified families and have often been considered heterogenous. Nearly 40% of over 110 publications available for the whole family is concerned with a single genusEuphorbia, so that the current level of our knowledge on the embryology of Euphorbiaceae is very poor. Nevertheless we found that, contrary to a conclusion recently published by other authors, available information does not provide evidence to support a monophyly of Euphorbiaceae. Our analysis further suggested that only the following five of over 50 embryological characters of ovules and seeds are likely to be useful for comparison between and within subfamilies: (1) the presence or absence of vascular bundles in the inner integument; (2) whether the inner integument is thick or thin (probably useful only in Phyllanthoideae); (3) whether ovules or seeds are pachychalazal or not; (4) whether seeds are arillate or not; (5) whether an exotegmen is fibrous or not. On the basis of these five characters, a consistency and diversity of individual subfamilies was discussed. The need of further extensive studies on the five characters using herbarium specimens, particularly in genera of Phyllanthoideae, Oldfieldioideae and Acalyphoideae, was also discussed.

Key words

Embryology Euphorbiaceae Systematics 


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toru Tokuoka
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Tobe
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Faculty of Integrated Human StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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