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Glabrous shrubs (rarely scandent, or lianas) or trees with slender branches. Leaves usually rather densely pellucid-micropunctulate against strong light, the discolorous lactifers generally visible beneath with the naked eye. Flowers small, few to numerousin axillary fascicles, sessile or pedicelled. Calyx small, cup-shaped, 5 (rarely 6)-dentate or -lobed, usually much accrescent and brilliantly colored towards fruiting stage, very rarely remaining practically unaltered and pale; petals 5 (very rarely 6), alternating with the calyx lobes, free or a little coherent at base, usually hairy inside, caducous; stamens usually 10 (rarely 12), filaments adnate below to the base of the petals, free otherwise, ligulate or filiform, anthers small, subglobose; disc completely adnate to the lower 10-sulcate part of the ovary; ovary superior, 1-locular above, 3-locular below, style short conical, stigma shortly 3-lobed. Drupe globose to ellipsoid, or oblongoid, pericarp thin-fleshy, whitish or yellowish to red, subtended or covered at full maturity by the generally much accrescent thin fleshy to coriaceous, shallowly to deeply 5(-6)-lobed fruit-calyx, endosperm copious, containing both starchy and fatty substances, embryo at apex of endosperm, cotyledons orbicular, foliaceous.


C and S America present, Guianas present, tropical Africa present
About 33 species, 3 in tropical Africa, the remaining species inC and S America (6 in the Guianas).

Wood observation species

H. acuminata, H. amphoricarpa, H. barbata, H. concinna, H. densifrons, H. duckei, H. flexuosa, H. insculpta, H. macrophylla, H. maguirei, H. maytenoides, H. nitida, H. ovata, H. scandens, H. sessilis, H. silvianii, H. spruceana


Vessels diffuse, predominantly solitary (81- 98%), partly in radial multiples of two, angular, 9-83 per sq. mm, round or oval, diameter 31-170 μm, widest vessels in H. scandens. Vessel-member length: 600-1900 μm, shor- test vessel-members in H. scandens. Perforations scalariform with 7-32 bars per perforation, but simple in mature wood of H. scandens, scalariform and simple in first formed secondary xylem of H. scandens. Intervascular pits rare, scalariform to opposite, round to oval or rectangular 4-15 μm wide. Vessel-ray and vessel-parenchyma pits large and simple, diffuse or forming a scalariform or reticulate pattern. Tyloses occasionally present, scanty to abundant, sclerotic in H. scandens.
Rays of Kribs' heterogeneous type I, uni- or bi-seriate, 8-18 per mm, up to 1894 μm high. Perforated ray cells not observed.
Parenchyma scanty to fairly common, predominantly apotracheal, diffuse or in small aggregates, rarely in uniseriate rows between two rays, partly scanty paratracheal, in strands of 5-12 cells.
Ground tissue composed of moderately to very thick-walled fibre-tra- cheids, lumen 12-28 μm. Pits bordered, in both radial and tangential walls, diameter of borders 4-7 μm. Length: 1362-2686 μm.
Crystals solitary rhomboidal, scanty to abundant in chambered or non- chambered ray cells, infrequently observed in chambered or non-chambe- red axial parenchyma cells.


In Heisteria, specimens can be named with certainty only if they bear leaves and more or less ripe fruits. Flowering specimens or those with only immature fruits can be named only tentatively, using mainly leaf- characters.