Flowering Plants · Monocotyledons

Volume 4 of the series The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants pp 109-128


  • R. B. Faden

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Perennial or occasionally annual, terrestrial, or rarely epiphytic, monoecious, or andromonoecious, rarely polygamomonoecious, small to large herbs, with erect to ascending, diffusely spreading or stoloniferous, occasionally rhizomatous, rarely scandent shoots. Roots fibrous or tuberous. Leaves sheathing the stem at the base, alternate or in pseudowhorls, spirally arranged or distichous, sheaths closed, eligulate; lamina simple, entire, often narrowed into a false petiole, commonly somewhat succulent, ptyxis involute, less commonly convolute or supervolute. Inflorescences terminal or terminal and axillary, in some genera all axillary and perforating the sheaths, commonly a paniclelike thyrse composed of several to many helicoid, cymose branches (cincinni), sometimes reduced to a single cincinnus or, rarely, to a single flower, sometimes enclosed in or closely subtended by a leafy bract (spathe). Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, usually bisexual or bisexual and male, rarely female and bisexual or female, bisexual and male, remaining open for only a few hours, then deliquescing. Nectaries lacking. Calyx composed of 3, equal or unequal, free or partly fused, sepaline or petaline sepals. Corolla composed of 3, equal to dimorphic, free or basally fused, white or colored petals. Androecium composed of 6 stamens arranged in 2 whorls, sometimes all fertile and equal or unequal, often 2–3(−4) reduced to staminodes, occasionally 1–3 (rarely all) lacking, staminodes either alternating with the stamens or else arranged on one side of the flower and the stamens on the other, filaments glabrous or some or all bearded, anthers dehiscing longitudinally, rarely poricidally. Ovary superior, bi- or trilocular, locules equal or dorsal locule reduced, ovules uniseriate or biseriate, 1-many per locule. Style terminal on ovary, simple, usually slender, stigma terminal, simple, small, or enlarged. Fruit a dehiscent or rarely indehiscent capsule, berry-like indehiscent capsule, or berry. Seeds with an embryotega or operculum covering the embryo, hilum dorsal, lateral, semilateral, or terminal.