Taxon Details: Lecythidoideae subfam. Lecythidoideae
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Lecythidaceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Lecythidoideae subfam. Lecythidoideae
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.

Author: Scott A. Mori

Type genus: Lecythis Loefl.

Description: Small, unbranched to large, much-branched emergent trees. Leaves alternate, exstipulate or with minute caducous stipules, simple, brochidodromous, the margins usually entire, sometimes crenulate to serrate, large to very large and clustered at branch ends in Couroupita, Grias, and some species of Gustavia, medium-sized and not clustered in remaining species. Inflorescences terminal, axillary, or cauline, of simple racemes or spikes, paniculate arrangements of racemes or spikes, or infrequently fasciculate. Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, inferior or half-inferior, perfect; calyx entire or of 2 to 6 triangular to broadly ovate lobes; petals 4, 6, 8, or infrequently 12 or 18; stamens arising from symmetrical staminal ring or tube in Allantoma, Grias, and Gustavia, the staminal ring slightly expanded on one side in Cariniana and markedly expanded into a strap-like ligule sometimes with an expanded hood at apex in remaining genera, the hood appendages with or without anthers, the pollen fertile in all stamens, or with some stamens with fertile pollen and others with sterile (fodder) pollen; ovary usually 2, 4, or 6-locular, with 2-115 anatropous ovules per locule, the placentae either axile, then inserted at apex, base, or throughout length of locule, or inserted on floor of locule. Fruits indehiscent, then somewhat fleshy and berry-like (Grias and Gustavia) or with thin, ligneous exocarp(Couroupita), or dehiscent via circumscissile operculum, then often large and woody, a few species are secondarily indehiscent either because the opercular opening is smaller in diameter than the seeds (e.g., Bertholletia excelsa>), because the operculum never opens (e.g., the water dispersed Lecythis rorida and the terrestrial L. lurida and L. prancei). Seeds winged in Cariniana and Couratari, the wing unilateral in the former and circumferential in the latter; cotyledons leaf-like in Cariniana, Couratari, and Couroupita, or fleshy in Gustavia, or absent in remaining genera; funicle surrounded by aril and either straight or contorted in Gustavia, in other genera the aril absent (e.g., Bertholletia and some species of Lecythis, lateral (most species of Eschweilera, basal (most species of Lecythis, or surrounding seed (some species of Eschweilera). X = 17.

Distribution: Species of Lecythidaceae subfamily Lecythidoideae are restricted to the Neotropics where they range from Mexico to Paraguay. There is only one species, Grias cauliflora, native to the Caribbean (excluding Trinidad) and there are approximately 22 described species found along the Atlantic coast of Brazil (Mori, 1995). Lecythidaceae are especially rich in species and high in density in lowland forests, especially those in the central Brazilian Amazon where 38 species have been recorded in a 100-hectare plot (Mori et al., 2001).

Genera: The Lecythidaceae subfamily Lecythidoideae includes the following genera Allantoma, Bertholletia, Cariniana, Corythophora, Couratari, Couroupita, Eschweilera, Grias, Gustavia, and Lecythis.

Taxonomic notes: However, Mori et al. (2007) have suggested that the currently circumscribed Eschweilera and Lecythis are not monophyletic.