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Proteaceae Juss.

Gen.Pl. [Jussieu] 78 (1789)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Banksia Family.

Habit and leaf form. Trees, or shrubs, or herbs (or often subshrubs, these sometimes geoflorous); evergreen. Mesophytic (in rainforest), or xerophytic (mainly). Heterophyllous, or not heterophyllous. Leaves small to very large; alternate (mostly), or opposite, or whorled; usually spiral; leathery, or fleshy; petiolate to sessile; sheathing, or non-sheathing; aromatic, or without marked odour; edgewise to the stem, or with ‘normal’ orientation; simple, or compound (especially in juvenile stages); epulvinate; when compound ternate, or pinnate, or bipinnate, or multiply compound, or palmate (sometimes digitate with pinnate segments). Leaf blades when ‘simple’ dissected, or entire; flat, or solid; when entire, often acicular, or linear; when simple/dissected pinnatifid, or palmately lobed, or much-divided, or dichotomously dissected, or spinose (variously dichotomously branching, bipinnately dissected, or digitately dissected with pinnately dissected segments — and in Synaphea lending the plants an amazingly ‘pteridophytic’ aspect); one-veined, or pinnately veined, or palmately veined, or parallel-veined. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire, or crenate, or serrate, or dentate. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Stem anatomy. Nodes tri-lacunar. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite, or functionally male and functionally female, or functionally male, or functionally female. Unisexual flowers present, or absent (usually). Plants hermaphrodite (usually), or monoecious, or andromonoecious, or dioecious. Entomophilous, or ornithophilous, or cheiropterophilous, or pollinated by unusual means (by small marsupials and rodents). Pollination mechanism conspicuously specialized (with ‘the greatest diversity of (passive) presentation morphology in the flowering plants’ (Ladd 1994)), or unspecialized (Sphalmioideae).

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’ (mostly); in racemes, in spikes, in heads, and in umbels. The terminal inflorescence unit racemose (or two flowered). Inflorescences terminal, or axillary, or intercalary; bracteate heads, cones, spikes or racemes; with involucral bracts, or without involucral bracts; pseudanthial, or not pseudanthial. The fruiting inflorescence conelike (sometimes spectacularly), or not conelike. Flowers bracteate (perhaps always), or ebracteate (depending on interpretation of cone-scales in a few genera); small to large (often very showy); fragrant, or odourless; regular to very irregular; when irregular, zygomorphic. The floral asymmetry when present, involving the perianth and involving the androecium. Flowers mainly 4 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic, or tricyclic. Floral receptacle developing a gynophore, or with neither androphore nor gynophore. Free hypanthium present (represented by a ‘calyx tube’ with stamens attached), or absent (at least sometimes, regardless of the hypanthium/calyx-tube conundrum, since the stamens are sometimes hypogynous (e.g. Bellendina)). Hypogynous disk present (representing the corolla?), or absent; extrastaminal; of separate members, or annular. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla (there sometimes being ‘glands’ or ‘scales’, perhaps representing petals, internal to and alternating with the conspicuous tepals), or sepaline (the conspicuous perianth component seemingly representing the calyx, though ‘petaloid’); 3, or 4, or (6–)8; 1 -whorled, or 2 -whorled; isomerous, or anisomerous. Calyx (the conspicuous tepals being so interpreted) 4; gamosepalous (with a basal tube), or partially gamosepalous, or polysepalous (or interpretable as such, when the stamens are interpreted in the throat of the perianth — i.e. at the top of the ‘hypanthium’); valvate (but variously split when open). When not completely gamosepalous, 3 of the members joined (and one free). Calyx tubular; unequal but not bilabiate (the tube sometimes cleft down most of one side), or bilabiate, or regular (but then commonly with the tube bent up, or with the lobes rolling back). Corolla when present, (2–)4 (then represented by ‘glands’ or ‘scales’). Fertile stamens present, or absent (female flowers). Androecium 4 (nearly always), or (3–)4 (Grevillea). Androecial members free of the perianth, or adnate (often inserted on the perianth, with only the anthers free); all equal, or markedly unequal; free of one another (mostly), or coherent; 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens (but then often exhibiting stamens with one theca sterile), or including staminodes. Staminodes when present, 1. Stamens 3, or 4; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth, or isomerous with the perianth; oppositisepalous; filantherous (with broad filaments), or with sessile anthers. Anthers cohering (occasionally), or connivent, or separate from one another; more or less basifixed; non-versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; strongly introrse (usually), or latrorse (rarely); tetrasporangiate; appendaged (via the elongated connective), or unappendaged. Fertile gynoecium present, or absent (male flowers). Gynoecium 1 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Gynoecium monomerous; of one carpel; superior. Carpel fully closed, or incompletely closed; non-stylate (rarely), or stylate (usually, the style often long and slender); apically stigmatic; (1–)3–100 ovuled ( ‘many’). Placentation marginal (mostly), or apical. Ovary sessile to stipitate. Stigmas dry type; papillate; Group II type. Ovules funicled, or sessile (the ovule sometimes adnate to the inner ovary wall, e.g. Leucospermum cordifolium); non-arillate; orthotropous, or anatropous, or amphitropous, or hemianatropous (the micropyle always pointing down).

Fruit and seed features. Fruit falling from the plant before the next growing season, or persistent; fleshy, or non-fleshy. The fruiting carpel dehiscent, or indehiscent; a follicle, or drupaceous, or nucular, or an achene (see Manning and Brits (1993), who provide evidence for interpreting seed coats of indehiscent forms as outer integument rather than pericarp — thus casting doubt on all previous phylogenetic speculation involving seed coats). Gynoecia of adjoining flowers combining to form a multiple fruit, or not forming a multiple fruit. The multiple fruits coalescing (often, sometimes incorporated in woody cones), or not coalescing. Seeds non-endospermic (nearly always), or endospermic (Bellendina); winged (often), or wingless. Embryo well differentiated. Cotyledons 2(–9). Embryo achlorophyllous (1/1); straight. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar, or cryptocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Aluminium accumulation demonstrated (very commonly), or not found. Photosynthetic pathway: C3.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: pantropical and warm, mainly requiring a long dry season. X = 5, 7, 10–13 (the chromosomes sometimes very large). 1050 species.

Economic uses, etc. Many genera and species are cultivated as ornamentals and barrier plants, and Macadamia produces excellent edible nuts.

Leslie Watson, 8 September 2016


Key to the Proteaceae of Western Australia

C. Hollister, K.R. Thiele

Western Australian Genera and Families of Flowering Plants — an interactive key

T.D. Macfarlane, L. Watson, N.G. Marchant