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Melastomataceae A. L. Jussieu



Credit: Trees and shrubs of the Andes of Ecuador

Description from Flora of China

Herbs, shrubs, or trees (to 20 m tall), erect, climbing, or rarely epiphytic. Stipules lacking. Leaves simple, commonly opposite and decussate with one of a pair slightly smaller than other, rarely verticillate or alternate by abortion of one of a pair, usually 1-4(or 5) secondary veins on each side of midvein, originating at or near base and anastomosing apically, tertiary veins numerous, parallel, and connecting secondary veins and midvein but in Memecylon secondary veins pinnate and tertiary veins reticulate. Inflorescences cymose, umbellate, corymbose, in paniculate clusters, or a cincinnus, rarely flowers single, fascicled, or born on a spike; bracts sometimes conspicuous and persistent. Flowers bisexual, actinomorphic but androecium often slightly zygomorphic, usually (3 or)4- or 5(or 6)-merous, perianth biseriate, perigynous; bracteoles opposite, usually caducous. Hypanthium funnel-shaped, campanulate, cyathiform, or urceolate. Calyx lobes (3-)5(or 6), valvate (rarely connate, but not in Chinese species). Petals (3-)5(or 6), equal to number of sepals, distinct, imbricate. Stamens usually twice as many as petals and in 2 whorls, rarely as many as petals by loss of 1 whorl, isomorphic or dimorphic; filaments distinct, often geniculate, inflexed in bud; anthers typically 2-celled, introrse, basifixed, dehiscent by 1 or 2 apical pores or by short longitudinal slits (Astronia, Memecylon); connective often variously appendaged. Pistil and style 1; stigma minute, capitate or truncate. Ovary commonly inferior or semi-inferior, locules usually (3 or)4 or 5(or 6) with numerous anatropous ovules, rarely 1-loculed and ovules ca. 9 (Memecylon); placentation axillary, parietal (Astronia and, outside China, Pternandra Jack), or free central (Memecylon). Fruit a dry or fleshy capsule or a berry, loculicidally dehiscent or indehiscent. Seeds (when 3-6-loculed) usually small, curved through half a circle (cochleate) or wedge-shaped (cuneate), in Memecylon seeds large and ovoid; endosperm absent.

Pternandra caerulescens Jack reported in FRPS (53(1): 282. 1984) from Hainan is a mistake. The northernmost limit of this genus is S Thailand (see Maxwell, Gard. Bull. Singapore 34: 1-90. 1981).

Driessenia sinensis H. Léveillé is a synonym of Gonostegia hirta (Blume ex Hasskarl) Miquel in the Urticaceae (see Fl. China 5: 178. 2003).

Chinese genera of economic value include Osbeckia (medicine) and Melastoma (wild fruit and ornamental flowers).

Chen Cheih. 1984. Melastomataceae. In: Chen Cheih, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 53(1): 135-293.

Between 156 and 166 genera (150-160 in Melastomataceae sensu stricto and six in Memecylaceae here considered part of Melastomataceae) and ca. 4500 species (ca. 4050 in Melastomataceae sensu stricto and 450 in Memecylaceae [Olisbeoideae if considered a subfamily of Melastomataceae]): primarily in tropical and subtropical regions; 21 genera (five endemic) and 114 species (72 endemic) in China.

(Authors: Chen Jie (陈介 Chen Cheih); Susanne S. Renner)

  • List of lower taxa


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