Trees, (climbing) shrubs or lianas. Leaves not stipulate, petiolate, often peltate, alternate; blade simple or up to 3-5-lobed or divided into 3-5 leaflets; veination prominent, pinnate, palmate or camptodromous; oil cells, sometimes cystoliths and glandular hairs present. Inflorescences axillary, pseudo-terminal, rarely terminal panicles, usually much branched, terminal-flower generally absent, flowers in cincinni or dichasia; bracts and bracteoles present or absent. Flowers bisexual, unisexual, or by abortion unisexual (then plants monoecious, very rarely dioecious), regular, epigynous; perianth segments 3-10, in 1 or 2 whorls, quincuncial, (sub-)imbricate or valvate; stamens 1-7, in 1 whorl, alternating with (inner) whorl of perianth segments, usually free, in Hernandia with 2 somewhat connate, swollen glands on back, anthers basifixed, 2-locular, introrse, dehiscing by valves opening to the top or to the side, connective linear, pollen grains inaperturate, spinulose; interstaminal glands very small or absent; ovary present or rudimentary, unilocular, ovule 1, anatropous, pendulous, style 1, simple, with a groove decurrent along entire length. Fruits dry, indehiscent drupes, ovoid or ellipsoid, rarely globose, longitudinally ribbed, in Hernandia included in cupule; seed 1, endosperm absent, cotyledons 2, large, with apical radicle.
Guianas: present Neotropics: present Pantropical: present
Pantropical, most frequent in coastal regions, 4 genera and 62 species; in the Neotropics 3 genera with 24 species:
Gyrocarpus (2 species), Hernandia (7 species) and Sparattanthelium (15 species); in the Guianas 4 species in 2 genera; Hernandia (1 species) and Sparattanthelium (3 species).
The following taxon are newly placed in synonymy:
Sparattanthelium botocudorum Mart. var. uncigerum Meisn.to Sparattanthelium wonotoboense Kosterm. Sparattanthelium uncigerum (Meisn.) Kubitzkito S. wonotoboense Kosterm.
Growth rings present and rather distinct, boundaries indicated by a few rows of flattened fibres and by an almost continuous ring of aliform/confluent parenchyma.
Vessels diffuse, for 50-80% solitary, the remainder in radial pairs occasionally in clusters or in longer chains, scarce, average number in
Rays 1-4-seriate, uniseriates rather scarce; 3-4 per mm; almost homocellular, marginal cells of the same height as procumbent cells, but radially slightly shorter; width 20-50 μm, height up to 600 μm (18 cells) in
Parenchyma rather abundant, mainly paratracheal, vasicentric to aliform and aliform-confluent, also apotracheal diffuse and diffuse-in-aggregates; strands of 2-4 cells. Large cystoliths in inflated cells in
Fibres non-septate, thin-walled with a wide lumen, diam. 20-25 μm. Pits simple, minute, in radial walls. Average length of fibres in
The wood of the two genera indigenous in the Guianas,A. Carlquist, S.: A theory of paedomorphosis in dicotyledonous woods. – Phytomorphology 12, B. Dadswell, H.E. & S.J. Record. 1936: Identification of woods with conspicuous rays. – Trop Woods 48, C. Dechamps, R. 1985: Etude anatomique de bois d’ Amérique du Sud. III. Linaceae-Quiinaceae. – Ann. Mus. roy. Afr. Cent. Tervuren No 14, D. Détienne, P. & P. Jacquet. 1983 – In: Atlas d’identification des bois de l’Amazonie et des régions voisines, E. Ilic, J. 1991 – In: CSIRO atlas of hardwoods, F. Kribs, D.A. 1968 – In: Commercial Foreign Woods on the American Market, G. Lindeman, J.C., A.M.W. Mennega & W.H.A. Hekking. 1963 – In: Bomenboek voor Suriname, H. Metcalfe, C.R. & L. Chalk. 1950: – Anatomy of the Dicotyledons Volume 2, I. Metcalfe, C.R. 1987: – Anatomy of the Dicotyledons vol. 3, J. Record, S.J. & R.W. Hess. 1943 – In: Timbers of the New World, K. Shutts, C.F. 1960: Wood anatomy of Hernandiaceae and Gyrocarpaceae. – Trop. Woods 113, L. Welle, B.J.H. ter, 1980: Cystoliths in the secondary xylem of Sparattanthelium (Hernandiaceae). – IAWA Bull. n.s. Vol. I, M. Williams, L. 1936: Woods of Northeastern Peru. – Field Mus. Nat. Hist. 15
Hernandia and Sparattanthelium, is very much alike, as well in general aspects as in structure. The bark is thin and superficially longitudinally grooved; the beige wood is rather coarse, particularly in Hernandia, and light. Special features are absent.
The wood is of no commercial value.
The wood is of no commercial value.