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Celastraceae R.Br., 1814, nom. cons.
the bittersweet family
Celestraceae is derived from the Greek word κελαστρς (kelastros), a name used by Theophrastus for the holly, Ilex aquifolium. The family consists of small trees, shrubs and woody vines, the stems sometimes having milky juice. The leaves are simple, and may be alternate, opposite or, rarely, whorled. The flowers are usually tiny, and often in clusters. They are bisexual, or sometimes functionally unisexual, and radially symmetrical. The calyx has 4 or 5 usually basally connate sepals. The corolla normally has 4 or 5 distinct petals, or, rarely, is absent. There are 4 – 5 stamens (rarely 10) alternate with the petals, rising from a usually conspicuous nectary disk; the ovary is usually superior, with 2 – 5 fused carpels and one style. The fruit may be a capsule, berry or drupe, with the seed coat often fleshy and coloured.
Maytenus disperma - orange boxwood
photograph by Vinayaraj, via Wikimedia Commons
Page last updated 23rd March 2018