Barringtonia

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Barringtonia

Description

Shrubs or trees, bark often fissured; Leaves spirally arranged, often clustered at end of branches; Stipules very small, triangular, acute, caducous. Inflorescences racemes, spikes or rarely clustered, terminal, lateral or cauliflorous, usually pendulous, erect in only a few species, glabrous or pulverulent; Flowers sessile or pedicellate; Petals usually 4, sometimes 3 or 5, cochlear-imbricate, convex, alternate with free sepals, adnate to the short staminal tube. Stamens numerous, strongly folded in bud, connate at base, inserted in 3-8 or rarely up to 12 whorls, the inner whorl or sometimes 2-3 reduced to shorter staminodia, staminodia sometimes connate for up to half their length and then generally exceeding the staminal tube in length; Ovary inferior, usually tapering into the pedicel, 2-4-celled but the septa often incomplete; Fruits obovoid, ellipsoid or fusiform, terete or angled to winged; Seeds 1-5, large;

Distribution

Australasia present, East Africa present, Madagascar present, Malesian and Pacific regions present, S Asia present
Mainly in the Malesian and Pacific regions also in S Asia and Australasia, with one common species reaching East Africa and 2 in Madagascar.

Taxonomy

Barringtonia is clearly closely related to the other Indo-Malesian genera Careya, Planchonia, Chydenanthus. Adulmajidia, which was described by Whitmore (1973), nests within Barringtonia. Abdulmajidia was based on having several vs a single seed. This study has shown that quite often other species have more than one seed, for example B. conoidea. In a recent phylogenetic study of the Lecythidaceae, Mori et al. () based on a molecular study of two genes, Barringtonia grouped with the other Old World genera including the African genus Petersianthus and the Madagascarian Foetidia (). The Old World group of Lecythidaceae are most closely linked to Grias and Gustavia in the New World, which is hardly surprising given many morphological similarities (such as actinomorphic flowers and the tendency to pachycaul arrangement of the leaves).
The genus Barringtonia was established by J.R. & G. Forster (), but prior to that date Linnaeus () had described two species in Eugenia (Myrtaceae) and one in Mammea (M. asiatica) that are now placed in Barringtonia.
Payens () recognized two sections in Barringtonia based on whether the calyx lobes are free or closed in bud. Those with a free calyx were placed in the Section Stravadium (A.Juss.) Miq., which coincides with the genus Stravadium of De Jussieu () and later recognized by Miers () and many others. This group of species certainly belongs within Barringtonia and the sections Stravadium and Barringtonia are maintained here, because it does seem to divide the genus into two distinct groups of related species. Payens also recognized 11 groups of related species to which he gave no taxonomic rank and which have not been separated here.

Uses

The bark and fruit of many species are used for fish poisons almost throughout the range of the genus. The young leaves of several species (for example B. acut­angula and B. fusiformis) are used in salads and chutnies. Three species, B. edulis, B. novae-hiberneae and B. procera have edible seeds and are often cultivated for them (see ). Many local medicinal uses for different parts of the plants have been recorded. The wood of a few species has limited uses.

Citation

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King 1901 – In: J. Roy. Asiat. Soc. Bengal. p 134
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Nied. 1892 – In: Engl. & Prantl, Pflanzenfam. 3. p 32
C.B.Clarke 1879 – In: Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 2. p 507
Kurz 1877 – In: J. Roy. Asiat. Soc. Bengal. p 69
Müll.Berol. 1857 – In: Walp., Ann. Bot. Syst. 4. p 859