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Thespesia Correa

Ann.Mus.Natl.Hist.Nat. 9:290, Tab.25, Fig.2 (1807)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Family Malvaceae.

Tribe Gossypieae.

Habit and leaf form. Trees, or shrubs (with an indumentum of scales or stellate hairs, sometimes glabrous). Plants unarmed. To 0.5–30 m high. Mesophytic. Not heterophyllous. Leaves medium-sized to large; alternate; spiral; ‘herbaceous’, or leathery, or membranous; petiolate; non-sheathing; simple. Leaf blades dorsiventral; usually entire, or dissected (shallowly lobed); ovate, or obovate, or oblong, or elliptic, or orbicular; palmately lobed; palmately veined; cordate, or rounded at the base. Mature leaf blades adaxially usually pubescent, or scaly, or glabrous (or glabrescent); abaxially usually pubescent, or scaly, or glabrous (or glabrescent). Leaves commonly with stipules (stipules subulate or filiform), or without stipules (rarely). Stipules caducous, or persistent. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present; complex hairs present. Complex hairs stellate. Extra-floral nectaries sometimes present (on the lower surface at the base of the midrib).

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Entomophilous.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (due to the reduction of the upper leaves); axillary; in racemes (apparently a leafy raceme). Inflorescences axillary. Flowers pedicellate (pedicels mostly inarticulate, at apex thickened into a hypanthium); medium-sized to large; regular; 5 merous; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium present. Hypogynous disk absent. Nectariferous glands 1–3 (below the epicalyx). Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; lobed; lobulate (shallowly), or toothed (minutely); hairy, or glabrous; valvate; exceeded by the corolla; campanulate; regular; persistent. Calyx lobes ovate. Epicalyx present (of free caducous bracteoles, whorled or irregularly inserted). Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; polypetalous (adnate to the base of the staminal column); with contrasting markings (usually with a different colour base); white, or yellow, or pink (Australian species with yellow to orange corolla and a maroon base). Petals obovate. Androecium present. Androecial members indefinite in number. Androecium 50–100 (i.e. ‘many’). Androecial members adnate; all equal; coherent (connate; the filaments fused in a column surrounding the style); 1 - adelphous (the tube attached to the petals); 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens (or rather, half-stamens, each having only a half anther). Stamens 50–100. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; unilocular. Gynoecium 3–5 carpelled. The pistil 3–5 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 3–5 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; simple (with a clavate and 5-grooved stigma), or more than 4-branched (obscurely 5-branched with erect stigmatic lobes); apical. Stigmas 1, or 5; clavate. Placentation axile. Ovules 3 per locule, or 4 per locule.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit 15–30 mm long; non-fleshy; hairy, or not hairy; dehiscent, or indehiscent (5-celled, coriaceous or woody); a capsule (sect. Thespia), or capsular-indehiscent (sect. Lampas). Capsules loculicidal (into 5 valves). Dispersal unit the seed, or the fruit (the seeds often embedded in a fibrous mesocarp). Fruit 3–20 seeded. Seeds not compressed (obovoid); small to medium sized; conspicuously hairy, or not conspicuously hairy.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: pantropical. Native of Australia. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, Queensland, and Northern Territory. Northern Botanical Province. A genus of 18 species; 2 species in Western Australia; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Etymology. From the Greek for "divine, sacred"; the plant was grown near sacred places in Tahiti.

S. Hamilton-Brown, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, J. R.; Rye, B. L.; Koch, B. L.; Wilson, A. J. G.; Western Australian Herbarium 1992. Flora of the Kimberley region. Western Australian Herbarium.. Como, W.A..