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Perennial herbs, often flowering in the first year, occasionally somewhat woody near the base. Leaves (in Mal.) opposite below, spirally arranged above. Flowers in the axils of the often greatly reduced upper leaves. Sepals 4, erect. Petals 4, white, pink, or purple, emarginate (in Mal.). Stamens 8, in 2 whorls, the epipetalous ones shorter. Ovary 4-locular, the ovules very numerous. Fruit a long, slender, loculicidal capsule. Seeds very numerous, small, with a chalazal plume of trichomes (coma).


Asia-Tropical: Maluku (Maluku present); New Guinea present; Philippines (Philippines present), Central Ceram present, E. Java present, Latimodjong Range present, Lesser Sunda Is present, Lombok present, Mt Tengger present, N. Luzon present, Panay present, SW. Central Celebes present, Sumbawa present, Timor present, W. Central Sumatra present, northern hemisphere present, temperate regions present, western U.S.A present
About 200 spp., well-represented in temperate regions, mostly on the northern hemisphere, with the greatest Centre of morphological diversity in the western U.S.A., at relatively high latitudes and altitudes; in the tropics confined to the mountains; in Malesia: rare and local, in W. Central Sumatra, E. Java (Mt Tengger), Lesser Sunda Is. (Lombok, Sumbawa, Timor), Philippines (N. Luzon, Panay), SW. Central Celebes (Latimodjong Range), Moluccas (Central Ceram), and New Guinea.


The species occurring in Sumatra (1 sp.) and in Luzon (2 spp.) also occur in continental SE. Asia, the one in E. Java and the Lesser Sunda Is. (E. hirtigerum) also occurs in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. The four remaining species are all endemic in East Malesia, 3 being confined to New Guinea and 1 also occurring in Central Celebes and Ceram. They are closely related to species found in Australia and New Zealand, from which they, and E. hirtigerum, were probably derived via the east-monsoon discussed above.
I have argued that the Australasian species ultimately show affinity to those of continental Asia and their ancestors must have reached Australia across the tropical mountains of Malesia. My assumption is that this southeastward penetration of the genus occurred in the Pliocene.


BROCKIE 1966: p. 366. – In: New Zeal. J. Bot. 2 fig.
RAVEN 1962: p. 325. – In: Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. Bot. 13 maps, pl. 33-39
HAUSSKNECHT 1884: Monogr. Epilob.
LINNE 1753 – In: Sp. Pl. p 347
RAVEN 1976: 321 pp. – In: D.S.I.R. New Zeal. Bull. 158 fig.
LINNE 1967: p. 309. – In: Bothalia. 7 fig.
BROCKIE 1970 – In: New Zeal. J. Bot. p 94
RAVEN 1967: p. 269. – In: Blumea. 7 fig.