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Trees or shrubs, evergreen, dioecious. Leaves simple, alternate, fasciculate, rarely opposite, subverticillate to verticillate, rarely dimorphic, estipulate; blades elliptic, oblong, obovate to ovate, frequently falcate or oblique, rounded, mucronate, acute to acuminate at apex, rounded, obtuse, acute to cuneate at base, margins entire or revolute, infrequently dentate near the apex, chartaceous, membranous to coriaceous, green or yellow on both surfaces, sometimes shining above, usually glaucous and papillate beneath, midrib frequently impressed above, prominent or not so beneath. Inflorescences axillary, rarely subterminal, racemiform, axes angulate, terete or flat, sometimes flexuous; pedicels angulate or flat, rarely pendent; bracts at the base of the inflorescences in 1-several whorls, imbricate, ovate, triangular or linear-ovate or elliptic, usually caducous, sometimes larger than the flower. Flowers unisexual. Stamens in staminate flowers 5-14, free or coherent at apex, subsessile or with long filaments, anthers lunate, oblong, oblong-elliptic, elliptic, broadly elliptic to ovate, compressed or oblique, apex apiculate, triangular, obtuse to emarginate or beaked; staminodia frequently present, rarely articulate, pistillodes rarely present. Ovary in pistillate flowers globose to elliptic-globose, imperfectly 2(-4)-septate; each carpel with (l or) 2 anatropous ovules; placentation suspended or subapical; staminodia on the ovary usually present; style with l-2(-4) lobes, usually shorter than the ovary, stigmas divaricate, revolute, discoid to circinnate or versatile. Seed 1 (or 2), various in shape and size; germination epigeous; cotyledons two.


Central China to New Guinea present, India to Japan present
Forming a monotypic family, Daphniphyllum consists of about 30 species, distributed from India to Japan and fromCentral China to New Guinea, with 16 species in the Malesian region.


Monographic study of Daphniphyllum was initiated by Miiller Argoviensis (1869), and followed by Rosenthal (1916) and by Huang (1965, 1966). Six species were reported in the Malesian regions in my treatment (Huang 1966), and also three sections were proposed: Section Lunata T.C.Huang including D. laurinum (Benth.) Baill.; Section Staminodia Hurus. including D. parvifolium Quisumb. & Merr., and Section Daphniphyllum including D. gracile Gage, D. glaucescens Blume, D. philippinense T.C. Huang and D. woodsonianum T.C. Huang. Since then, no revision nor monographic treatment has been done for the Malesian region.

Daphniphyllaceae have been placed in various orders (Huang 1965), such as in Pittosporales by Thorne (1976, 1983), Hamamelidales (Hutchinson 1973; Takhtajan 1980), and Balanopales (Buxales) (Dahlgren 1983; Thorne 1992). Sutton (1989) and Zhang & Lu (1989) placed it in Daphniphyllales with closest relationship to Hamamelidales as suggested by Huang (1965) and Cronquist (1983).

The following list provides a summary of the subdivision of the genus according to Huang (1996), with mention of the Malesian species:
  • Section 1. Daphniphyllum
    • Subsection 1. Daphniphyllum
      • Series 1. Daphniphyllum (D. borneense, ceramense, dichotomum, glaucescens, lancifolium, luzonense, scortechinii, sumatraense, timorianum)
      • Series 2. Longicalycifera T.C. Huang (D. gracile, papuanum)
      • Series 3. Unicalycifera T.C.Huang (.D. buchananiifolium, celebense, woodsonianum)
    • Subsection 2. Staminodia Hurus. (D. parvifolium)
  • Section 2. Lunata T.C. Huang (D. laurinum)
E. Cronquist, A. 1983: Some realignments in the Dicotyledons. – Nordic J. Bot. 3, F. Dahlgren, R. 1983 – In: General aspects of Angiosperms. Wiley, New York, G. Huang, T.C. 1965: Monograph of Daphniphyllum, I. – Taiwania 11, H. Huang, T.C. 1966: Monograph of Daphniphyllum, II. – Taiwania 12, I. Huang, T.C. 1996: Notes on taxonomy and pollen of Malesian Daphniphyllum. – Blumea 41, J. Hutchinson, J. 1983 – In: The families of flowering plants. 3rd ed, Clarendon Press, Oxford, K. Müller Argoviensis, J. 1869: Daphniphyllaceae. – In: Prodromus, L. Rosenthal, K. 1919: Daphniphyllaceae. – In: Pflanzenreich, M. Sutton, D. A. 1989: The Daphniphyllales: A systematic review. – In: Evolution, systematics and fossil history of the Hamamelidae, N. Takhtajan, A. 1980: Outline of the classification of flowering plants (Magnoliophyta). – Bot. Rev. 46, O. Thorne, R.F. 1976: A phylogenetic classification of the Angiospermae. – Evol. Biol. 9, P. Thorne, R.F. 1983: Proposed new realignments in the Angiosperms. – Nordic J. Bot. 3, Q. Thorne, R.F. 1992: Classification and geography of the flowering plants. – Bot. Rev. 58, R. Zhang, Z.Y. & A.M. Lu 1989: On the systematic position of Daphniphyllaceae. – Acta Phytotax. Sin. 27


This monogeneric family is still a taxon incertae sedis. Bentham & Hooker (according to Radcliffe-Smith 1987) placed Daphniphyllum in Euphorbiaceae-Phyllantheae between Aporosa and Baccaurea. Miiller Argoviensis created a separate family for the genus. Daphniphyllaceae subsequently were accepted by most authors, but in recent time taxonomists are inclined to favour relationships of Daphniphyllaceae with Hamamelidaceae rather than with Euphorbiaceae (see, e.g., Mabberley 1987; Sutton 1989).

Chemical investigations of Daphniphyllum were started by Greshoff who isolated and described the alkaloid daphniphylline from D. laurinum (see Hegnauer 1990). Hitherto three classes of secondary metabolites with some promise for plant classification became known in this genus.
S. Chenery, E.M. 1948: – Kew Bull., T. Gianassi, D.E. 1986: Phytochemical aspects of phylogeny in Hamamelidae. – Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 73, U. Heathcock, C.H., et al. 1992: – J. Org. Chem. 57, V. Hegnauer, R. 1966: – Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen 4, W. Hegnauer, R. 1989: – Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen 8, X. Hegnauer, R. 1990 – In: The plant diversity in Malesia, Y. Huber, H. 1990 – In: Angiospermen. Leitfaden durch die Ordnungen und Familien der Bedecktsamer, Z. Jensen, S.R. 1991: Plant iridoids, their biosynthesis and distribution in Angiosperms. – In: Ecological chemistry and biochemistry of plant terpenoids, AA. Mabberley, D. J. 1987 – In: The plant-book, AB. Radcliffe-Smith, A. 1987: Segregate families from the Euphorbiaceae. – Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 94, AC. Sutton, D. A. 1989: The Daphniphyllales: a systematic review. – In: Evolution, systematics and fossil history of the Hamamelidae, vol. 1., Syst. Assoc. Special Vol.2. R. Hegnauer


T.C.Huang 1966: – Taiwania 12: 137-234
T.C.Huang 1965: – Taiwania 11: 57-98