In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Characters of Menispermaceae 2. Distribution of Menispermaceae 3. Economic Characters 4. Affinities.
Characters of Menispermaceae:
Mostly woody vines – lianas, dioecious; flowers trimerous, unisexual; double whorls of sepals and petals; curved seed.
A. Vegetative Characters:
Mostly twining, woody vines (lianas), rarely erect shrubs or small trees. Root – Tap and branched.
Mostly woody and twining rarely erect.
Simple (rarely trifoliate in a few tropical spp.) petiolate, exstipulate, mostly entire or occasionally palmately-lobed, mostly palmately-veined.
B. Floral Characters:
Racemose, dioecious (monoecious in Albertisia).
Small, unisexual, greenish, generally actinomorphic, hypogynous, cyclic, trimerous or dimerous.
Sepals 6, in two whorls of 3 each.
Petals 6, in two whorls of 3 each, usually smaller than sepals.
Staminate flowers with usually 6 stamens (sometimes 3 or ∝) opposite to petals, when of same number, free; variously connate or monadelphous forming a central column (Cissampelos), anthers 4-celled, dehiscing longitudinally.
Carpels 3 or more, in pistillate flowers, apocarpous; ovary superior, 1-loculed, ovules 2 aborting to 1, parietal placentation; style very short or absent; stigma terminal, capitate or discoid, entire or lobed.
Drupe or achene.
Endospermic or non-endospermic, usually curved, endosperm fleshy in Menispermum, Cocculus, Calycocarpum.
Distribution of Menispermaceae:
It is commonly known as Moonseed family, includes 70 genera and 400 species, distributed largely throughout paleotropic regions and a few genera extend into the eastern Mediterranean region and eastern Asia
Economic Importance of Menispermaceae:
A few species of Menispermum, Cocculus and Cissampelos are grown as ornamentals.
Menispermaceae have been considered in the past as a part of Berberidaceae, Mangnoliaceae or the Annonaceae, it was for the first time recognized as a distinct family by De Candolle, a view supported by Eichler and others. Recently most of the contemporary botanists have treated it as of close affinity with Berberidaceae and Lardizabalaceae. Diels has divided it into 8 tribes, primarily on the characters of fruits and seeds.
Common plants of the family:
1. Menispermum. Menispermum canadense, a twinning vine.
2. Cocculus. Cocculus carolinus, a garden ornamental.
3. Cissampeols. Cissampeols pareira, a garden ornamental.
4. Calycocarpum. Calycocarpum lyoni. Common in Florida.
5. Stephania. Stephania elegans and S. rotunda. Climbing herbs with yellow purple flowers, grow wild in valleys below Simla; July-Sept, ascending to 200 metres.