Genera : 200 - 240

Species: 3000 - 4000


Links to Genus Directory of Images:



Distribution: Tropical and subtropical with a few temperate species and concentrated in South America.


Economic Uses: As sources for timber and dyes and as ornamentals.

Defining Features of Interest: Leaves have parallel veins with many cross - connections. Stem is usually square or four-sided. The family is divied into three subfamilies distinguished by characteristics of the stamens.

Fossil Evidence: Fossil plant parts from the Eocene and Oligocene.

Defining Morphology

Floral Features : Actinomorphic and perfect (rarely unisexual). Often large and showy. Inflorescences of various types. Epigynous or perigynous with persistent hypanthium.

Fruit and Seed Features : Fruit a berry or loculicidal capsule. Seeds are small and many, endosperm is lacking. Placentation is parietal.

Vegetative Features : Habit as herbs, shrubs, trees or lianas and sometimes as epiphytes. Leaves a re simple and entire, opposite (rarely alternate or whorled). Stipules are lacking.