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Shrubs or small trees. Leaves entire, alternate, gland-dotted, coriaceous, small peltate hairs on undersurface; stipules small, subulate or obscure. Inflorescences of supra-axillary racemose panicles or racemes; bracts and bracteoles small, reduced to scales. Flowers hermaphrodite; receptacle broad, slightly concave; calyx very short, lobes 5 or indistinct; petals 5, caducous, sepaloid, oblong or oblong-elliptic, apex rounded or minutely apiculate, minutely punctate, aestivation imbricate; disk absent; stamens numerous (about 45), filaments short, flattened, persisting after flowering and then recurved, anthers linear, erect, basifixed, caducous, 4-locular, dehiscing longitudinally; ovary sessile, globose, glabrous, 1-locular, inserted at base of concave receptacle, ovule 1, basally attached, campylotropous, style arising from base of ovary to one side of it, fairly thick, elongated, stigmatic surface on outermost side ascending from base or middle. Fruits small drupes, globose, terminating a short stipe in cup-shaped receptacle, exocarp thin, crustaceous when dry, endocarp slightly woody; seed 1, reniform-globose, exalbuminous, with thin testa; cotyledons thickly fleshy, radicle small and bent inward towards hilum.


Guianas present, NE Brazil present, northern Amazonian present
The family consist of 1 genus with 3 species distributed in the Guianas, northern Amazonian and NE Brazil; in the Guianas 1 species.


The genus Rhabdodendron has been placed variously in the RUTACEAE (Puff & Weber, 1976 and others), CHRYSOBALANACEAE and near the PHYTOLACCACEAE (Prance 1968). The taxonomic history has been described in Prance (1968, 1972). More recent molecular work has confirmed its proximity to PHYTOLACCACEAE as a member of the Caryophyllid group.


The monogeneric family RHABDODENDRACEAE comprises 3 species of shrubs or small trees confined to tropical South America (Prance 1972). In the Guianas, RHABDODENDRACEAE is represented by one arboreal species, Rhabdodendron amazonicum (Spruce ex Benth.) Huber, with no commercial value.
Terms are used in accordance with the defined descriptions according to the IAWA list of microscopic features for hardwood identification (IAWA Committee 1989).
A. -empty team- – In: InsideWood, B. Carlquist, S. 2001: Wood and stem anatomy of Rhabdodendraceae is consistent with placement in Caryophyllales sensu lato. – IAWA J. 22, C. Détienne, P. & J. Jacquet. 1983 – In: Atlas d’identification des bois de l’Amazonie et des régions voisines, D. IAWA Committee. 1989: The IAWA list of microscopic features for hardwood identification. – IAWA Bull. n.s. 10, E. Record, S.J. & R.W. Hess. 1936: Identification of woods with conspicuous rays. – Trop. Woods 48, F. Record, S.J. & R.W. Hess. 1943 – In: Timbers of the New World, G. Vliet, G.L.C.M. van 1976: Radial vessels in rays. – IAWA Bull. 3