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Family: Rhamnaceae

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Family Parent: Rhamnales Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • BUCKTHORN FAMILY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Family Recognition in the Field: Woody plants usually with alternate (opposite in 1 species) simple leaves and sometimes with 3 main veins or with secondary veins strikingly parallel; stipules small; flowers usually small, 5-merous, with a hypanthium; stamens 5, opposite the petals.

Diagnosis: Half-woody to woody shrubs, vines, or small trees; leaves usually alternate (opposite in 1 species rare in nc TX), short-petioled, simple, entire or toothed; stipules small, falling early; flowers small, radially symmetrical, usually perfect, axillary or terminal, solitary or few together, or many in compact, umbel-like racemes or small panicles; calyces (4-)5-lobed; petals (4-)5 or absent, green, yellowish, or white (rarely pinkish), usually clawed or spatulate and often hood-shaped, delicate, inconspicuous (except in Ceanothus); stamens 5, alternate with the sepals, often hooded by the petals, attached around an often prominent, fleshy disk; pistil 1; ovary superior; fruit a drupe or capsule-like.


Notes: A medium-sized (900 species in 49 genera), cosmopolitan, but especially tropical and warm area family of trees, shrubs, climbers, and rarely herbs including some ornamentals (e.g., Ceanothus). A number of species contain anthraquinone glycosides and alkaloids and have been used medicinally; others have been used as dyes, for edible fruit, or as ornamentals. (subclass Rosidae).