Family description

Trees, shrubs, herbs or seldom lianas, often with (white) latex.
Leaves simple or rarely compound, usually alternate, often with glands on petiole or lamina; margin entire to serrate; indument of stellate or lepidote hairs, occasionally stinging hairs or glands or glandular hairs. Stipules usually present.
Inflorescences very variable; cymose corymbs, heads, thyrses, racemes, axillary fascicles, or sometimes very compact cymose units in compound inflorescences.
Flowers usually small, generally unisexual. Sepals 0--10, free or connate. Petals 0--13, mostly free, often lacking. Disc often present. Staminate flowers: stamens 1 to many. Pistillate flowers: ovary superior, generally 3-locular, styles absent to present; stigmas free or basally connate, often 2-lobed.
Fruit usually a dry capsule, splitting, often explosively, into 3 or 6 cocci, rarely fruit a fleshy berry or drupe.

General info

Distribution About 330 genera with about 7750 spp., widespread in (sub)tropical to temporate regions of the world.
Ecology Any habitat type. Contains some of the most common pioneer trees in tropical Asia (Macaranga), but also trees that are adapted to dark forest understoreys and closed forest canopies.
Uses Timber; Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis); Food like cassave (Manihot esculenta); Oils (Ricinus communis, Aleurites moluccana); Fruits and spices (Baccaurea spp., Phyllanthus spp.); Vegetables (Claoxylon spp., Sauropus spp.); Ornamentals.
Similar to May be most easily confused with Salicaceae (former Flacourtiaceae), but can be distinguished by the usually more than 1-locular ovary with a single placenta per locule (Salicaceae unilocular with (2)--3--5(--8) placentas).
Remark The family as classically known has been shown to consist of 5 separate families of which we treat the 3 most common.




Treated genera

Treated genera

Treated genera

  • Alchornea
  • Croton
  • Macaranga
  • Mallotus
  • Trigonostemon
  • Antidesma
  • Aporosa
  • Baccaurea
  • Cleistanthus
  • Glochidion
  • Drypetes

Alchornea tiliifolia

Croton argyratus

Macaranga indica

Mallotus barbatus

Trigonostemon villosus

Antidesma coriaceum

Aporosa nitida

Baccaurea dulcis

Cleistanthus myrianthus

Glochidion sericeum

Phyllanthus embelica

Drypetes longifolia