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Thymelaeaceae A. L. Jussieu

瑞香科

Description from Flora of China

Shrubs or small trees, rarely herbs, evergreen or deciduous. Bark tough and fibrous. Leaves opposite or alternate, rarely some ternate, estipulate; blade simple, entire, pinnately veined, articulate at base. Plants mostly bisexual, sometimes dioecious. Inflorescences terminal or subterminal, less often axillary, sometimes on brachyblasts, sessile or pedunculate, basically racemose, sometimes capitate, spicate, umbelliform, or fascicled. Flowers usually actinomorphic, bisexual or unisexual (plants then mostly dioecious), bracteate (sometimes bracts forming an involucre) or ebracteate, sessile or pedicellate. Calyx tubular, campanulate, or infundibuliform, usually corollalike, 4- or 5(or 6)-merous, mostly caducous, sometimes circumscissile, or persistent; lobes imbricate. Petals absent or represented by 4-12 scales, inserted at or near throat of calyx tube (Aquilaria). Stamens 2 to many, usually as many as calyx lobes and opposite them or twice as many. Hypognous disk usually present at base of ovary, scalelike, annular or cup-shaped, sometimes absent. Ovary superior, 1- or 2-loculed, sessile or shortly stipitate; ovules solitary in each locule, pendulous, anatropous; style filiform, caducous, sometimes very short or obscure, terminal or eccentric; stigma capitate, globose, subglobose, subclavate, or pyramidal, sometimes papilose. Fruit mostly indehiscent, dry or fleshy, sometimes a loculicidal capsule (Aquilaria). Seeds with or without endosperm, embryo straight.

The phloem contains very strong fibers, which make the bark of many species very suitable for the manufacture of high-quality paper such as that used for bank notes. The stems are extremely supple and difficult to break and are used as a substitute for string. Most species are poisonous and some are important medicinally.

"Stellera formosana" (H. L. Li, Woody Fl. Taiwan, 619. 1963) and "Daphne formosana" (Halda, Genus Daphne, 83. 2001) were not validly published because they were based on "Chamaejasme formosana" (Hayata, Icon. Pl. Formosan. 6 [Gen. Ind. Fl. Formos.]: 64. 1917), which was itself not validly published because it lacked a description or diagnosis. The illustrations suggest that this plant is a species of Daphne. It was described as having a circumscissile calyx, which, if true, would exclude it from Daphne, and 4-merous flowers not enclosed in any bracts, which would place it in Diarthron. The specimens listed by Hayata proved to be Daphne arisanensis, but the material described and illustrated by Li and Halda is clearly not that species nor any of the other species recorded from Taiwan. This apparently distinctive endemic must remain effectively nameless until authentic material can be located to serve as a type and a validating description can be published in the appropriate genus.

Huang Shuchung & Zhang Zerong. 1999. Thymelaeaceae. In: Ku Tsuechih, ed., Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 52(1): 287-400.

About 48 genera and ca. 650 species: widely distributed in both hemispheres; nine genera and 115 species (89 endemic) in China.

(Authors: Wang Yinzheng (王印政); Michael G. Gilbert, Brian Mathew, Christopher D. Brickell, Lorin I. Nevling)

Lower Taxa


 

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