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Trees or shrubs, dioecious, with lateral branchlets transformed into spines or with a spinous tip. Stipules lateral, free; leaves alternate and distichous, blade entire (or when juvenile pinnately incised), venation pinnate. Inflorescences in the leaf axils, bracteate, bracts and/or perianths (at least in fruit) with yellow (dye containing) 'glands' embedded in the tissue. Staminate inflorescences spicate; tepals 4, almost free; stamens 4, inflexed in the bud and bending outwards suddenly and elastically; pistillode present. Pistillate inflorescences globose-capitate; tepals 4, almost free; ovary free, stigmas 2 and unequally long, or 1. Fruiting perianth enlarged, fleshy, green; fruits free, slightly drupaceous, endocarp crustaceous; seed small, with endosperm, cotyledons equal and flat, radicle long.


Guianas present, Neotropics present, tropics, extending to northern temperate regions present
World-wide in the tropics, extending to northern temperate regions; 9 species, 2 of them in the Neotropics, and only one in the Guianas.


Vessels diffuse, solitary (50%) and in short radial multiples and few irregular clusters of 2-4, round to oval, 8 per mm, diameter 105 μm. Vessel-member length: 280 μm. Perforations simple. Intervascular pits alternate, round, oval and polygonal, 7 μm. Vessel-ray and vessel- parenchyma pits larger, elongated, more irregularly shaped, half- bordered, the borders commonly very reduced. Thin-walled tyloses few.
Rays uniseriate and 2-4-seriate, 9 per mm, up to 175-200 μm high. Homogeneous, composed of procumbent cells.
Parenchyma aliform, with short and long wings, occasionally abaxially unilateral, confluent, sporadically in wavy bands. Strands up to 6 cells. Rhombic crystals abundant in the axial parenchyma, in crystalliferous strands containing up to 13 crystals, one crystal per chamber.
Fibres non-septate, lumen 7-8 μm, walls 2-3 μm. Pits simple, small, confined to the radial walls. Length: 930 μm. F/V ratio: 3.3.


No material from the Guianas was available for this study. The description is based on a sample from Venezuela.