The Botanical Review

, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 1–82 | Cite as

Phylogenetic Distribution and Identification of Fin-winged Fruits



Fin-winged fruits have two or more wings aligned with the longitudinal axis like the feathers of an arrow, as exemplified by Combretum, Halesia, and Ptelea. Such fruits vary in dispersal mode from those in which the fruit itself is the ultimate disseminule, to schizocarps dispersing two or more mericarps, to capsules releasing multiple seeds. At least 45 families and more than 140 genera are known to possess fin-winged fruits. We present an inventory of these taxa and describe their morphological characters as an aid for the identification and phylogenetic assessment of fossil and extant genera. Such fruits are most prevalent among Eudicots, but occur occasionally in Magnoliids (Hernandiaceae: Illigera) and Monocots (Burmannia, Dioscorea, Herreria). Although convergent in general form, fin-winged fruits of different genera can be distinguished by details of the wing number, texture, shape and venation, along with characters of persistent floral parts and dehiscence mode. Families having genera with fin-winged fruits and epigynous perianth include Aizoaceae, Apiaceae, Araliaceae, Asteraceae, Begoniaceae, Burmanniaceae, Combretaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Dioscoreaceae, Haloragaceae, Lecythidiaceae, Lophopyxidaceae, Loranthaceae, and Styracaceae. Families with genera having fin-winged fruits and hypogynous perianth include Achariaceae, Brassicaceae, Burseraceae, Celastraceae, Cunoniaceae, Cyrillaceae, Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Melianthaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Pedaliaceae, Polygalaceae, Phyllanthaceae, Polygonaceae, Rhamnaceae, Salicaceae sl, Sapindaceae, Simaroubaceae, Trigoniaceae, and Zygophyllaceae. This survey has facilitated the identification of fossil winged fruits such as Combretaceae and Araliaceae in the late Cretaceous of western North America and provides additional evidence toward the identification of various Cenozoic fossils including Brassicaceae, Fabaceae, Polygonaceae, Rutaceae, and Sapindaceae.


Fin-winged fruits Angiosperm Phylogeny Fossil Cretaceous Tertiary 


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven R. Manchester
    • 1
  • Elizabeth L. O’Leary
    • 1
  1. 1.Florida Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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