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Plants woody or rarely herbaceous, terrestrial or hemi-epiphytic, dioecious or monoecious, with milksap. Leaves alternate, in spirals or distichous, rarely opposite; petiolate; stipules fully amplexicaul to lateral, free or connate; blade basally attached, simple, venation pinnate, (sub)palmate. Inflorescences bisexual or unisexual, racemose, spicate, globose-capitate, or organised in pseudanthia with a fleshy receptacle and then discoid-capitate to cup-shaped and involucrate, or urceolate, many- to one-flowered, with or without bracts. Flowers unisexual, free or connate or adnate to a receptacle. Staminate flowers: tepals 2-4(-7), free or connate, or perianth lacking; stamens 4-1, straight or inflexed before anthesis; pistillode present or absent. Pistillate flowers: tepals (3-)4(-7), free or connate; pistil 1, ovary unilocular, free or adnate to the perianth, stigmas 2 or 1, ovule 1, (sub)apically attached. Fruit an achene, or more or less drupaceous, or forming a drupaceous whole with the enlarged, fleshy perianth or forming a one- to many-seeded drupaceous whole with both the perianth and the fleshy receptacle; seed large and without endosperm, or small and with endosperm, cotyledons flat or thick, equal or unequal.


Guianas: present Neotropics: present World-wide, mainly in the tropics: present
World-wide, mainly in the tropics: 37 genera and approx. 1100 species; in the Neotropics 19(-20) genera and approx. 250 species.; in the Guianas 14-15 (neotropical) genera and 52 species, and 1 Asiatic genus with 2 cultivated species.


Some of the species furnish valuable timber: Bagassa guianensis, Brosimum guianense and B. rubescens. For fruit the two introduced Artocarpus species are cultivated, and less commonly Ficus carica. The Ficus species introduced from Asia are planted as ornamental trees or climbers. Castilla elastica Sesse has been introduced in Surinam from Central America for rubber production, but without success. The latex of Brosimum parinarioides has been used to adulterate balata.


Subdivision of the Moraceae s.str. (- the genera Cecropia, Coussapoa, and Pourouma being regarded as members of the Cecropiaceae):
  • Moreae: plants woody, with or without uncinate hairs; staminate inflorescences racemose, spicate or globose-capitate; stamens inflexed in bud. In the Guianas: Madura (indigenous?).
  • Artocarpeae: plants woody, with or without uncinate hairs; staminate inflorescences racemose or spicate; pistillate inflorescences globose-capitate, racemose to spicate or one-flowered; stamens 4 or less, straight in bud. In the Guianas: Artocarpus (introduced), Bagassa, Batocarpus, Clarisia, Poulsenia, and Sorocea.
  • Dorstenieae: plants woody or herbaceous, with uncinate hairs; inflorescences bisexual, secondarily unisexual; receptacle discoid, turbinate or globose, not involucrate, bracts often (sub)peltate. In the Guianas: Brosimum, Dorstenia, and Trymatococcus.
  • Castilleae: plants woody, with self-pruning lateral branches, without tuncinate hairs; inflorescences unisexual, receptacle discoid to cup-shaped, involucrate, bracts basally attached. In the Guianas: Helicostylis, Maquira, Naucleopsis, Perebea, and Pseudolmedia.
  • Ficeae: plants woody, without uncinate hairs; inflorescences bisexual, receptacle urceolate, bracts basally attached. Only 1 wide-spread genus: Ficus.


Vessels diffuse, solitary and in short radial multiples and/or irregular clusters of 2-4, perforations simple, intervascular pits alternate, round, polygonal or slightly oval, vessel-ray and vessel-parenchyma pits slightly larger, half-bordered, the borders sometimes reduced; thin-walled tyloses common, thick-walled tyloses scarce.
Rays uniseriate and 3-6-seriate, heterogeneous, composed of procumbent cells, except for uniseriate margins of 1-3(5) rows of square and/or upright cells, only occasionally homogeneous.
Parenchyma very variable, from diffuse and scanty paratracheal to regular concentric bands, also covering all intermediate types, in some genera unilateral parenchyma common.
Fibres in some genera all non-septate, in other genera all or partly septate, gelatinous fibres common.
Radial latex tubes common, but not always present, axial latex tubes in some taxa.
Rhombic crystals in most taxa, especially in the marginal ray cells, less frequent in the other ray cells and the axial parenchyma; in one genus rhombic crystals in crystalliferous parenchyma strands.
Vitreous silica common (sometimes abundant), in vessels and tyloses, fibres and/or axial parenchyma.
KEY FOR IDENTIFICATIONFibres non-septate.2Fibres all or partly septate12Parenchyma (predominantly) in concentric or wavy bands.3Parenchyma otherwise.8Vessel frequency > 6 per sq. mm, diam. < 110 μm.4Vessel frequency < 6 per sq. mm, diam. > 120 μm.6Parenchyma bands 1-3(4) per mm; silica present in the vessels. vessel freauencv 7-13 per sq. mm, vessel diam. 75-105 μm.Clarisia ilicifoliaParenchyma bands 4-6 per mm; silica absent from the vessels.5Vessel diam. 68-70 urn.Sorocea muriculataVessel diam. 90-130 μm.Sorocea hirtellaParenchyma always in regular concentric bands, 1-3 per mm, 3-7(10) cells wide.Ficus spp.Parenchyma bands less regular, e.g. wavy and variable in width.7Vessel frequency 4-5 per sq. mm, diam. 145-200 μm.Clarisia racemosaVessel frequency 2-3 per sq. mm, diam. 200-205 μm.Batocarpus amazonicusRays slightly heterogeneous, crystalliferous parenchyma strands lacking.9Rays homogeneous, crystalliferous parenchyma strands present. containing up to 13 crystals.Maclura tinctoriaParenchyma (in part) unilateral. (For details concerning Brosimum, see table 1)Brosimum spp.Trymatococcus spp.Parenchyma not unilateral.10Rhombic crystals in the marginal ray cells, and less frequent in the axial oaren- chyma.,Bagassa guianensisRhombic crystals lacking.11Parenchyma vasicentric-aliform, with short wings, occasionally confluent, not very clear in transverse sections because the lumen diam/wall thickness ratios of the fibres and parenchyma cells are almost equal; intervascular oit size 6-9 μm.Poulsenia spec.Parenchyma aliform with short to long wings, occasion- ally confluent. well visible on transverse sections; intervascular pit size 9-13 μm.Artocarpus spp.Vessel frequency > 19 sq. mm. Naucleopsis spp.Vessel frequency < 18 sq. mm.Helicostylis spp.Maquira spp.Perebea spp.Pseudolmedia spp.