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Malpighiaceae Juss., nom. cons.
the acerola family
The type genus, Malpighia, was named for Marcello Malpighi (1628 – 1694), Italian physicist and biologist. The Malpighiaceae are all native to the tropics and the sub-tropics, most of them in the New World. A feature found in several members of the family is that they provide pollinators with rewards other than pollen and nectar, usually in the form of nutrient oils. Members of the family are trees, shrubs, erect or trailing subshrubs or herbs with perennating underground structures, or woody to herbaceous vines climbing by twining stems. Leaves are mostly opposite and decussate, often bearing large multicellular glands on the petiole or lamina or both, the lamina mostly entire (rarely lobed), the margin never truly toothed but sometimes pseudodentate. Inflorescences are terminal or axillary, very diverse. The flowers are mostly bisexual, with 5 persistent sepals, 5 distinct petals, mostly clawed, alternating with the sepals, the posterior petal (‘flag’) often different from the lateral four. There are usually 10 stamens in a single whorl. Fruits may be fleshy or dry: the fleshy fruits are mostly indehiscent drupes or berries, the dry fruits indehiscent in a few genera, but in most cases splitting apart into mericarps.
Galphimia gracilis - Thryallis
Lophanthera lactescens - Golden Chain Tree
Photograph by Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting
Page last updated 25th March 2018