31 (27); see text.
The Lythraceae are a family of flowering plants, including about 620 species of mostly herbs, with some shrubs and trees, in 31 genera. Major genera include Cuphea (275 spp.), Lagerstroemia (56), Nesaea (50), Rotala (45), and Lythrum (35). Lythraceae have a worldwide distribution, with most species in the tropics, but ranging into temperate climate regions, as well.
The family is named after the type genus, Lythrum, the loosestrifes (e.g. Lythrum salicaria purple loosestrife) and also includes henna (Lawsonia inermis). It now includes the pomegranate, formerly classed in a separate family Punicaceae. The family also includes the widely cultivated crape myrtle trees. Botanically, the leaves are usually in pairs (opposite), and the flower petals emerge from the rim of the calyx tube. The petals often appear crumpled.
The Lythraceae are most often herbs, and less often shrubs or trees; the shrubs and trees often have flaky bark. Traits shared by species within the Lythraceae that distinguish them from belonging to other plant families are the petals being crumpled in the bud and the many-layered outer integument of the seed.
The leaves generally have an opposite arrangement, but sometimes are whorled or alternate. They are simple with smooth margins and pinnate venation. Stipules are typically reduced, appearing as a row of minute hairs, or absent.
The flowers are bisexual, radially or occasionally bilaterally symmetric, with a well-developed hypanthium. The flowers are most commonly four-merous but can be six-merous, with four to eight sepals and petals. The sepals may be distinct, partially fused to form a tube, or touching without overlapping. The petals are crumpled in the bud and wrinkled at maturity, and are typically distinct and overlapping; they are occasionally absent. There are usually twice as many stamens as petals, arranged in two whorls, and the stamens are often unequal in length. Occasionally, the stamens are reduced to one whorl, or are more numerous with multiple whorls. The ovary is typically superior, infrequently semi-inferior, or rarely inferior. The two to many carpels can be fused together (syncarpous), with two to numerous ovules in each locule, with axile placentation of the ovules.
Lythraceae has 31 genera in five subfamilies:
- Subfamily Duabangoideae (Takht. 1986) S. A. Graham, Thorne & Reveal 1998 = 'Duabangaceae', 1 genus:
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- Little S. A., Stockey R. A., and Keating, R. C. (2004). "Duabanga-like leaves from the Middle Eocene Princeton chert and comparative leaf histology of Lythraceae sensu lato". American Journal of Botany 91 (7): 1126–1139. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.7.1126. PMID 21653468.
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