Genera : 16 - 20

Species: 600- 650

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Distribution: Tropical and subtropical with the majority of species in the New World tropics.


Economic Uses: Cultivated for the edible fruits and as ornamentals.

Defining Features of Interest: The family has a distinctive floral structure which includes a corona, or a whorl of floral parts between the stamens and corolla (also termed a crown), as well as an unique lobed stigma.

Fossil Evidence: No known fossil record.

Defining Morphology

Floral Features : Actinomorphic and perfect or rarely unisexual. Generally large and showy. Inflorescence a solitary flower or in cymes or racemes. Some inflorescences are modified into axillary tendrils. Perigynous with a saucer - shaped hypanthium.

Fruit and Seed Features : Fruit a capsule or berry. Seed with a fleshy aril and endosperm present. Placentation is parietal.

Vegetative Features :
Habit is as a herbs or woody vines or less commonly as trees or shrubs. Leaves simple, entire or palmateley lobed (rarely compound) and alternate. Stipules small and deciduous.