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Alluaudia montagnacii.jpg
Alluaudia montagnacii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Didiereaceae

The Didiereaceae are a small family of just four genera and 11 species of flowering plants endemic to south and southwest Madagascar, where they form an important component of the Madagascar spiny forests.

Molecular studies have shown the genus Portulacaria (previously in Portulacaceae) is part of this family, thus extending its distribution beyond the island of Madagascar. In addition, phylogenetic studies have shown that the genus Ceraria is located within Portulacaria genus, and therefore extends both genus and family still further.[2]


The plants are spiny succulent shrubs and trees from 2–20 m tall, with thick water-storing stems and leaves that are deciduous in the long dry season. Some species build a distinct youth form as small procumbent shrubs before a dominant stem is produced.

All species are dioecious (Decaria female-dioecious). The leaves, produced from the brachyblasts (much like the areoles found in cacti), are small, appear single or in pairs and are accompanied by conical spines. The flowers are unisexual (except from Decaria) and radially symmetric.

The family is also closely related to the New World family Cactaceae (cacti), sufficiently closely so that the species of Didiereaceae can be grafted successfully on some cacti.

Key to the genera[edit]

1 Spines in groups of four or more: Didierea
- Spines single or in pairs: → 2
2 Shoots striking zigzagged, spines short conical: Decarya
- Shoots not zigzagged, spines long conical to needle-like: → 3
3 Shrubs strongly branched, leaves lanceolate: Alluaudiopsis
- Shrubs little branched, leaves either ovate to circular or scale-like and awl-shaped: Alluaudia

Genera and species[edit]

Alluaudia (Drake) Drake 1903

Alluaudiopsis Humbert & Choux 1934

Decaria Choux 1929

Didierea Baillon1880

Several of the species are grown as indoor ornamental plants in specialist succulent collections.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 105–121. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  2. ^ P.Bruyns, M.Oliveira-Neto, G.F. Melo de Pinna, C.Klak: Phylogenetic relationships in the Didiereaceae with special reference to subfamily Portulacarioideae. Taxon 63 (5). October 2014. 1053-1064.


  • Eggli, Urs (Ed.): Sukkulentenlexikon Band 2: Zweikeimblättrige Pflanzen (Dicotyledonen) Eugen Ulmer Verlag, Germany 2002. ISBN 3-8001-3915-4