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Capparidaceae *


The Herbarium, Department of Botany University of Karachi, Karachi.

Herbs, erect or scandent shrubs, rarely small trees, often glandular hairy. Leaves alternate or rarely opposite, simple or digitately 3-7 (rarely 1, 2 or 9-)-foliolate; leaflets usually entire; stipules 2-0, often spiny, persistent or caducous. Inflorescence terminal or axillary, often corymbose, sometimes solitary or fascicled. Flowers hermaphrodite (rarely dioecious), regular, sometimes with unequal sepals or petals, complete or rarely petals wanting, pedicellate. Sepals 4 (rarely more), free or sometimes connate below, equal or unequal, valuate or imbricate. Petals 4 (rarely wanting or more), sessile or clawed. Stamens 4- indefinite (not tetradyna¬mous when 6 or didynamous when 4), alike or unequal, usually borne on a short or long androphore; filaments free, sometimes adherent to the gynophore or coherent at the base, usually filiform; anthers oblong, dithecous, dehiscing longi¬tudinally, basifixed, rarely some of them abortive. Ovary sessile or supported on a gynophore of varying length, unilocular with usually 2 parietal placentas or rarely divided by spurious dissepiments into 2 or more locules; ovules many rarely few (even 1 or 2), usually campylotropous with 2 integuments; style 0 - long, with simple stigma. Fruits generally capsular or baccate, often oblong-cylindrical or globose, sometimes torulose or somewhat lobed, 1-many seeded; seeds reniform or angular; endosperm none or scanty; embryo usually incurved; cotyledons folded or convolute; radicle often conical and incumbent.

A medium-sized family with about 45 genera and nearly 600 species, mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. It is represented by 7 genera and 23 species (incl. 4 cultivated spp.) in West Pakistan.

The family closely resembles Brassicaceae but can be easily distinguished by its appearance with usually glandular hairs, stamens never tetradynamous or didyna¬mous, fruits without a false septum, and seeds usually with a coiled embryo.

Hutchinson, J. in his `Genera of Flowering Plants' (vol. 2: 303. 1967) has restricted the description of the Capparidaceae to the sub-family Capparidoideae with remarks, “After much study in the Kew Herbarium, I have come to the conclusion that, morphologically at any rate, two distinct families have been included in Capparidaceae. In consequence subfamily Cleomoideae together with the related Tovariaceae, will be given family status and included in future volume in the Herbaceae preceding the Brassicaceae". He further remarked on page 305 "... . Again, Dipterygium Decne., originally placed in Capparidaceae, also eventually found a better home in Brassicaceae". Experts do not seem to agree with Hutchinson and maintain the original status of the family and do not think it necessary to split it into two families simply on the grounds of herbaceous and woody habit. The general appearance of the plants with their usually glandular hairs, fruit without septum, flowers and specially the stamens fully justify that the Cleomoideae and Capparidoideae should remain within one single family. Dipterygium, which has superficial fruit resemblance with Brassicaceae should also remain within this family.

The 7 genera of this family, occurring in West Pakistan, can be classified into three subfamilies.

Acknowledgements We are grateful to the United States Department of Agriculture for financing this research under P.L. 480. Thanks are also due to Mr. B. L. Burtt, Dr. Davis and Mr. Hedge of Edinburgh for their help and guidance.

*Capparaceae has been conserved in the 1972 edition of the Code, though Airy-Shaw & Deighton (Taxon 12:291. 1963), Airy-Shaw (in Willis, Dict. Fl. Pl. & Ferns, 1966 ed.), Cross-white & Iltis (Taxon 15(6): 205. 1966), Elffers et al (Fl. Trop E. Afr. 1964) Hutchinson (Gen. Fl. Pl. 2:303. 1968) and Hedge and Lamond (Rech.f., Fl. Iran. 1970) etc. have preferred 'Capparidaceae', rejecting the recommendations (Intern . Code of Bot. Nomen., app. 2:190. 1960). Under the circumstances both the names should be allowed for use.

1 Fruits indehiscent (or hardly dehiscent), globose, long or short, cylindrical; seeds usually surrounded by at least a little pulp; generally shrubs or trees (rarely under shrubs or bushy herbs)   (2)
+ Fruit capsular, dehiscent (rarely subdehiscent), without any pulp; generally herbs   (6)
2 (1) Shrubs or trees (sometimes climbing or spreading); fruits larger and more or less pulpy (often baccate)   (3)
+ Undershrubs or bushy herbs (only up to 60 cm tall); fruit only 4-6 mm long, ellipsoid, subcompressed, margined, 1-2-seeded, dry indehiscent nutlet   5 Dipterygium
3 (2) Sepals free or slightly connate at the base   (4)
+ Sepals fused below forming a distinct tube; (petals often reduced or apparently wanting)   4 Maerua
4 (3) Sepals distant, inserted on the edges of a distinct disk; a deciduous tree; leaves trifoliolate   1 Crataeva
+ Sepals biseriate or imbricate; mostly shrubs with persistent leaves; (leaves simple in the local representatives)   (5)
5 (4) Stamens usually indefinite, inserted at the base of the gynophore; disk appendix absent; leaves usually with 2 stipular spines   2 Capparis
+ Stamens usually 4-6, inserted irregualarly or apparently more or less halfway upon the gynophore; leaves without stipular spines   3 Cadaba
6 (1) Stamens borne on a conspicuous androphore which exceeds the petals in length   6 Gynandropsis
+ Stamens not borne on a conspicuous androphore   7 Cleome

Lower Taxa


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