Theophrastaceae

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Theophrastaceae

Description

Shrubs or small trees, usually evergreen. Leaves alternate, often pseudoverticillate, exstipulate, petiolate, simple, glandular-punctate, mostly with bundles or layers of subepidermal, extraxylary sclerenchyma. Inflorescences terminal or lateral, racemose, rarely reduced to a single flower, each flower subtended by a small bract. Flowers regular, or because of unequal size of the corolla lobes, slightly zygomorphic, 5- or sometimes 4-merous, bisexual or (usually in Clavija) unisexual, aestivation imbricate; calyx persistent, lobes free to base, glandular-punctate, margins membranaceous; corolla sympetalous, usually firm and waxy, lobes usually slightly unequal in size; staminodes fused to corolla tube, alternating with lobes; stamens of same number as corolla lobes and placed in front of these, filaments flattened, fused to lower part of corolla, free to base, or (often in Clavija) united into a tube, anthers basifixed, dithecal, extrorsely dehiscent with longitudinal slits, thecae partly filled up with calcium oxalate crystals; pistil superior, ovary ovoid to subglobose, undivided, 1-locular, ovules few to numerous, spirally inserted on a basal column, style often poorly demarcated, shorter to about as long as ovary, stigma truncate, capitate or sometimes discoid, entire or vaguely lobed. Fruits berries with dry and sometimes woody pericarp, indehiscent, subglobose, oblongoid, or ovoid, yellow, orange, or orange-red; seeds embedded in juicy and (when mature) sweet pulp, hard, brown to brownish-yellow, endosperm abundant.

Distribution

Antilles: present Guianas: present Neotropics: present
Throughout the Neotropics but most diverse in and around the Antilles; ca. 100 species in 7 genera; 1 genus with 3 species in the Guianas.

Wood

The wood of THEOPHRASTACEAE is characterised by narrow (often less than 70 µm) and short vessel elements (commonly less than 500 µm in length); vessels are arranged solitary or in radial multiples of 2-7 cells in Clavija and Theophrasta L., while vessel clustering is observed in Deherainia Decne. and especially in Bonellia Bertero ex Colla and Jacquinia L. Vessel perforations are exclusively simple, and intervascular pitting is small (3-5 µm in horizontal width) and alternate. Vessel density ranges from 20/mm2 in Bonellia and Jacquinia to 160/mm2 in Clavija. Axial parenchyma is paratracheal and sparse. Rays are exclusively multiseriate consisting of procumbent and square cells in Clavija and Deherainia, but mainly procumbent ray cells in Bonellia, Jacquinia and Theophrasta. The rays are often 6-10-seriate (up to 36-seriate) and 200-900 µm wide, and usually between 2000-6000 µm high. Fibres are short (often less than 700 µm in length), septate only in Clavija and Theophrasta, thin- to thick-walled, and they have simple to minutely bordered pits concentrated in the radial walls. Small calcium oxalate crystals of various shapes found in rays of Jacquinia; large spherical clusters of needle-like crystals in rays of Theophrasta. Silica grains in ray cells are present in Clavija and Bonellia.

The generic description is based on 8 wood samples of Clavija. As far as we know, the wood is of no commercial value (Record & Hess 1936, p. 28).
A. Détienne, P. & J. Jacquet. - in Atlas d’identification des bois de l’Amazonie et des régions voisines. 1983, B. Heimsch, C., Comparative anatomy of the secondary xylem in the Gruinales and Terebinthales of Wettstein with reference to taxonomic grouping in Lilloa 8. 1942, C. IAWA Committee., The IAWA list of microscopic features for hardwood identification in IAWA Bull. n.s. 10. 1989, D. Lens, F., S. Jansen, P. Caris, L. Serlet & E. Smets., Comparative wood anatomy of the primuloid clade (Ericales s.l.) in Syst. Bot. 30. 2005, E. Record, S.J. & R.W. Hess. - in Timbers of the New World. 1943, F. Record, S.J. & R.W. Hess., Identification of woods with conspicuous rays in Trop. Woods 48. 1936, G. Vliet, G.L.C.M. van, Radial vessels in rays in IAWA Bull. 3. 1976, H. in InsideWood. 2004-onwards