Spurge flax Thymelaea passerina, photographed by Václav Dvořák.

Belongs within: Malvales.
Contains: Pimelea, Passerina.

The Thymelaeaceae are a cosmopolitan family of flowering plants containing the daphnes and related species, most of which are shrubs or small trees. They are often toxic to humans with some such as mezereum Daphne mezereum acting as violent cathartics. Many species of the family have fibrous bark that is used to make high quality paper. Species of Daphne are cultivated for their fragrant flowers.

Characters (from Wang et al.): 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.

    |--Aquilaria CBH93 [Aquilarioideae T00]
    |--Synandrodaphne [Gilgiodaphnoideae] T00
    `--Thymelaea WM09 [Thymelaeoideae T00]
         |--T. hirsuta P05
         |--T. passerina H91
         |--T. sanamunda WM09
         `--T. tartonraira (Linnaeus) Allioni 1785 PL04
              |--T. t. ssp. tartonraira PT98
              `--T. t. ssp. argentea PT98

Thymelaeaceae incertae sedis:
  Gnidieae H03
    |--Gnidia squarrosa H90
    `--Kelleria Endl. 1848 H03, KC01
         |--K. dieffenbachii Endl. 1847 H90, A61 (see below for synonymy)
         |--K. ericoides H03
         |--K. laxa W91
         `--K. patula H03
  Phaleria H90
    |--P. capitata H03
    `--P. chermsideana H90
  Daphnopsis J87
    |--D. americana J87
    |    |--D. a. ssp. americana J87
    |    `--D. a. ssp. tinifolia J87
    `--D. crassifolia J87
  Funifera YY22
  Hyptiodaphne YY22
  Lagetta lintearia C06
  Wikstroemia indica H90
  Pimelea A61
  Drapetes Banks 1792 A61
    |--D. ericoides P88
    |--D. laxus (Cheeseman) Allan 1961 [=D. dieffenbachii var. laxa Cheeseman 1906] A61
    |--D. lyallii Hook. f. 1853 (see below for synonymy) A61
    |--D. multiflorus (Cheeseman) Allan 1961 [=D. villosa var. multiflora Cheeseman 1906] A61
    |--D. villosus (Bergg.) Cheeseman 1906 [=Kelleria villosa Bergg. 1877] A61
    `--D. tasmanica C06
  Stellera chamaejasme O88
  Daphne PT98
    |--D. blagayana H09
    |--D. calycina R00
    |--D. cneorum H09
    |--D. gnidioides P05
    |--D. laureola H59
    |--D. mezereum C55
    |--D. pillopillo D03
    `--D. vermiculata R00
  Diplomorpha Meisner 1841 FT93
  Passerina BW06
  Lachnaea BW06
  Dicranolepideae H85
    |--Dicranolepidinae H85
    `--Linostomatinae H85
         |--Linostoma Wall. 1831 KC01
         `--Enkleia paniculata H85, H03
  Thecanthes LK14
    |--T. concreta LK14
    |--T. punicea LK14
    `--T. sanguinea LK14
  Dirca occidentalis H93
  Daphnites goepperti Ettingshausen 1867 CBH93
  Thymelaeaspermum CBH93
  Pseudospinaepollis pseudospinosus Krutzsch 1966 CBH93
  Lachnea L. 1753 KC01
  Eudaphniphyllum P92

Drapetes lyallii Hook. f. 1853 [=Kelleria dieffenbachii var. lyallii Meissn. in DC. 1857; incl. D. muscosa Hook. f. 1854 non D. muscosus Lam. 1792] A61

Kelleria dieffenbachii Endl. 1847 H90, A61 [=Drapetes dieffenbachii Hook. 1843 A61; incl. D. macrantha Col. 1890 A61, Kelleria tasmanica H90]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A61] Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand vol. 1. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Psilopsida, Lycopsida, Filicopsida, Gymnospermae, Dicotyledones. R. E. Owen, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[BW06] Bredenkamp, C. L., & A. E. Van Wyk. 2006. Phytogeography of Passerina (Thymelaeaceae). Bothalia 36 (2): 191–199.

[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[C06] Cheeseman, T. F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. John Mackay, Government Printer: Wellington.

[CBH93] Collinson, M. E., M. C. Boulter & P. L. Holmes. 1993. Magnoliophyta (‘Angiospermae’). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 809–841. Chapman & Hall: London.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 1–34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[FT93] Fensome, R. A., F. J. R. Taylor, G. Norris, W. A. S. Sarjeant, D. I. Wharton & G. L. Williams. 1993. A classification of living and fossil dinoflagellates. Micropaleontology Special Publication 7: i–viii, 1–351.

[H90] Harden, G. J. (ed.) 1990. Flora of New South Wales vol. 1. New South Wales University Press.

[H85] Heads, M. 1985. On the nature of ancestors. Systematic Zoology 34 (2): 205–215.

[H03] Heads, M. 2003. Ericaceae in Malesia: vicariance biogeography, terrane tectonics and ecology. Telopea 10 (1): 311–449.

[H59] Healy, A. J. 1959. Contributions to a knowledge of the adventive flora of New Zealand, no. 7. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 86 (1): 113–118.

[H09] Heltmann, H. 2009. Der Königstein (Piatra Craiului), die Perle der Burzenländer Gebirge. Mauritiana 20 (3): 515–527.

[H93] Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press: Berkeley (California).

[H91] Hubálek, Z. 1991. Biogeographic indication of natural foci of tick-borne infections. In: Dusbábek, F., & V. Bukva (eds) Modern Acarology: Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Acarology, held in České Budĕjovice, Czechoslovakia, 6–11 August 1990 vol. 1 pp. 255–260. SPB Academic Publishing: The Hague.

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

[KC01] Kirk, P. M., P. F. Cannon, J. C. David & J. A. Stalpers. 2001. Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi 9th ed. CAB International: Wallingford (UK).

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[O88] Ohba, H. 1988. The alpine flora of the Nepal Himalayas: an introductory note. In: Ohba, H., & S. B. Malla (eds) The Himalayan Plants vol. 1. The University Museum, University of Tokyo, Bulletin 31: 19–46.

[PT98] Panitsa, M., & D. Tzanoudakis. 1998. Contribution to the study of the Greek flora: flora and vegetation of the E Aegean islands Agathonisi and Pharmakonisi. Willdenowia 28: 95–116.

[P05] Papapavlou, K. P. 2005. New distributional data on the Orthoptera (Saltatoria) of the northern Dodecanese (“southern Sporadhes”) archipelago, Greece. Graellsia 61 (1): 3–11.

[PL04] Pohl, G., & I. Lenski. 2004. Zur Verbreitung und Vergesellschaftung von Pennisetum orientale Rich. in Nordeuböa (Griechenland) (Poaceae, Paniceae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 83 (2): 209–223.

[P92] Poinar, G. O., Jr. 1992. Life in Amber. Stanford University Press: Stanford.

[P88] Polunin, I. 1988. Plants and Flowers of Malaysia. Times Editions: Singapore.

[R00] Ramond, C. 1800. Plantes inédites des Hautes-Pyrénées. Bulletin des Sciences, par la Societé Philomathique de Paris 2 (41): 129–133.

[T00] Thorne, R. F. 2000. The classification and geography of the flowering plants: dicotyledons of the class Angiospermae (subclasses Magnoliidae, Ranunculidae, Caryophyllidae, Dilleniidae, Rosidae, Asteridae, and Lamiidae). The Botanical Review 66: 441–647.

[WM09] Wang, H., M. J. Moore, P. S. Soltis, C. D. Bell, S. F. Brockington, R. Alexandre, C. C. Davis, M. Latvis, S. R. Manchester & D. E. Soltis. 2009. Rosid radiation and the rapid rise of angiosperm-dominated forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106 (10): 3853–3858.

[W91] Williams, P. A. 1991. Subalpine and alpine vegetation of granite ranges in western Nelson, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 29: 317–330.

[YY22] Yampolsky, C., & H. Yampolsky. 1922. Distribution of sex forms in the phanerogamic flora. Bibliotheca Genetica 3: 1–62.

Last updated: 8 August 2021.

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