In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Characters of Amaryllidaceae 2. Distribution of Amaryllidaceae 3. Economic Importance 4. Affinities 5. Important Type.
Characters of Amaryllidaceae:
Plants perennial herbs, distichous radical leaves and leafless scape, inflorescence monochasial cyme; two or many spathaceous bracts around the flowers; flowers hermaphrodite, actinomorphic rarely zygomorphic; perianth generally gamophyllous; stamens 6, epiphyllous; gynoecium tricarpellary, trilocular, ovary inferior, axile placentation; fruit capsule; seed endospermic.
A. Vegetative characters:
Mostly perennial herbs perennating by means of underground stem that may be bulb, rhizome or corm; in general habit the members resemble lilies.
Underground rhizome, bulb or corm. Agave reproduces vegetative by bulbils.
Radical leaves arranged spirally, sessile, exstipulate, simple, mostly narrow, entire margin, thick, fleshy, linear-lanceolate, persistent, fibrous, rigid, coated with wax, multicostate parallel venation.
B. Floral characters:
Flowers borne on leafless scape (aerial floral axis) either singly or in cymose or umbellate clusters; flowers protected by large bracts called spathes.
Bracteate-bract large, sub-sessile or pedicellate, hermaphrodite, complete, sessile, actinomorphic rarely zygomorphic (Sprekelia), epigynous.
Six, in two whorls of three each, gamophyllous rarely polyphyllous. In Narcissus and Eucharis at the junction of corolla tube and limb there is a crown or corona.
According to Baillon the corona is the late development of the floral axis at the base of the perianth, appearing after stamens and carpels. Eichler and others consider it as combined ligular outgrowth of the six perianth lobes i.e. perigonal in nature.
Stamens 6, polyandrous, epiphyllous – as the tepals arranged in two whorls; anthers bithecous, dorsifixed or basifixed, introrse or extrorse, filament distinct, sometimes connate basally by staminal tube. In Gethyllis 12 to 18 stamens are present.
Tricarpellary, syncarpous, ovary inferior, trilocular or unilocular in Calostemma-, axile placentation with numerous ovules in each loculus; style slender, stigma simple or trifid.
Loculicidal capsule or berry.
Distribution of Amaryllidaceae:
It is commonly called “Narcissus family”. The Amaryllidaceae covers 90 genera and 1300 species. The members are widely distributed throughout the world. The family is chiefly distributed in the tropics and sub-tropics.
Economic Importance of Amaryllidaceae:
The roots of Alstroemaeria and Curculigo orchioides yield flour.
The thick rhizome of Curculigo orchioides is used in piles, jaundice, asthma, diarrhoea and gonorrhoea, Crinum asiaticum is laxative and diuretic. Polyanthes tuberosa is used in gonorrhoea.
The fermented juice from the flowering axis of Agave is a national drink of Mexico and is commonly called pulque. From the juice the Mexicans also distil spirit.
From the leaves of Agave sisalinea and A. fourcryodes excellent fibres called sisal hemp and henquen are obtained respectively. In Indian desert Agave can be extensively grown and fibre industry can be developed.
Agave, Amaryllis, Narcissus, Galanthus, Crinum, Agapanthus, Lycoris, Leucojum vernum (Snow drop), Polyanthes (tube rose) etc., are cultivated in garden as ornamentals.
1. Leaves simple.
2. Flower rarely solitary.
3. Flowers hermaphrodite, actinomorphic and cyclic.
4. Seed endospermic.
1. Plants are mostly herbs.
2. Stem rhizome or bulb or corm.
3. Laves exstipulate.
4. Inflorescence umbellate cyme, flowers are protected by spathe.
5. Flowers epigynous rarely zygomorphic.
6. Presence of perianth.
7. Corona present.
8. Gynoecium syncarpous and ovary inferior.
9. Axile placentation.
Affinities of Amaryllidaceae:
Amaryllidaceae is related to the Iridaceae in the nature of ovary but distinguished by the presence of 6 stamens. It is allied to Dioscoreaceae but differs from the Amaryllidaceae in climbing habit.
The Amaryllidaceae is closely related to Liliaceae in having underground stem, exstipulate, simple leaves; flowers in scapes; bracteate, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, flowers; perianth 3+3; stamens 3+3, epiphyllous; gynoecium tricarpellary, syncarpous, trilocular, axile placentation. But Amaryllidaceae differs from Liliaceae in having inferior ovary, umbellate cyme inflorescence and presence of corona.
According to Hutchinson (1959) Agapanthus forms a connecting link between Liliaceae and Amaryllidaceae in having the superior ovary of the former and scapose umbellate inflorescence subtended by spathaceous bracts of the latter.
Common plant of the family:
1. Agave americana (American aloe or century plant):
A fibrous plant and its sap, after fermentation, gives alcoholic drink.
2. Crinum asiaticum:
Cultivated from ornamental purposes.
3. Curculigo orchioides:
A small herb with blue flowers.
4. Galanthus (Snow drop):
Cultivated for beautiful snow-like flowers.
(H. Nargis) ornamental in Garden all over the world.
Herb with tunicated bulb and large flowers.
7. Zephyranthus tubispatha (Zephyr lily):
A bulbous herb with white flowers.
Division of the family and chief genera:
The family is sub-divided into 4 sub-families as follows:
Sub-family I. Amaryllidoideae:
Anthers introrse, scape leafless, bearing umbel like inflorescence enclosed by spathe or scape bearing single flower, e.g. Amaryllis.
Sub-family II. Agavoideae:
Plants with rhizomes, herb, shrubs or rarely trees; aerial stem leafy; inflorescence racemose or paniculate e.g. Agave.
Sub-family III. Hypoxidoideae:
Leaves smaller, not thick; inflorescence various e.g. Curculigo.
Sub-family IV. Campynematoideae:
Outer whorl of stamens at least with extrorse anthers; fibrous roots bushy; leaves linear e.g. Campynema.
Hutchinson (1959) divided the family into 13 tribes.
Important Type of Amaryllidaceae:
Narcissus poeticus (Fig. 102.1 and 102.2):
A perennial herb.
Radical, long, linear, strap-shaped, entire, pointed apex, multicostate parallel.
Cymose; flowers protected by spathe.
Bracteate, complete, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, epigynous, trimerous.
Tepals 6 in two whorls of 3 each, gamophyllous, collar shaped corona present, superior.
Stamens 6, polyandrous, epiphyllous, filaments short, anthers long and kidney-shaped, introrse, superior.
Tricarpellary, syncarpous, ovary inferior, trilocular, axile placentation; style up to the level of corona, cylindrical; stigma three lobed.