Celastrus scandens

Peripterygia marginata

Dicarpellum pancheri




Celastraceae R. Br., in Flinders, Voy. Terra austral. 2: 554 (1814), nom. cons.

Hippocrateaceae Juss. (1811), nom. cons.

Stackhousiaceae R. Br. (1814), nom. cons.

Brexiaceae Loudon (1830).

Siphonodontaceae (Croizat) Gagnep. & Tardieu (1951).

Canotiaceae Airy Shaw (1965).

Plagiopteraceae Airy Shaw (1965).

Pottingeriaceae ? (Engl.) Takht. (1987).


Monoecious, andromonoecious, dioecious, gynodioecious, or polygamous, erect or scandent trees, shrubs, lianas (with quickly-deciduous scales, without tendrils), or annual or perennial herbs with erect or prostrate stems, rarely suffrutices, rhizomatous shrubs, ericoid subshrubs, or epiphytic shrubs, glabrous or glabrescent, rarely puberulent, densely pilose, or hirsute and stellate pubescent, often with elastic threads in soft tissues that are evident when broken, unarmed or with thorns, rarely with stems terminating in sharp points, rarely with glandular stems, rarely with buttressed trunks.  Leaves simple, alternate, opposite, or subopposite, rarely whorled, subverticillate, irregularly scattered, fasciculate on short shoots, or opposite on mature branches and alternate on juvenile branches, petiolate or rarely sessile, blade laminar or rarely needle- or scale-like, venation pinnate or rarely acrodromous, secondary veins reticulate, margins entire, crenate, serrate, dentate, spinose, glandular-toothed, spinose-dentate, rarely notched; stipules small and caducous or absent.  Inflorescences axillary or terminal, rarely epiphyllous or cauliflorous, thyrsoid, cymose, fasciculate, or flowers solitary, rarely paniculate, umbellate-cymose, umbellate, racemose, or in spikes.  Flowers actinomorphic, rarely + zygomorphic with 4 of 5 petals arched, bisexual or unisexual, rarely perigynous with short or cupular hypanthium, perianth (3)4—5(6)-merous, sepals and petals free, rarely petals medially connate.  Disk intrastaminal, stamens on disk, or extrastaminal, annular, margins upturned, pulvinate, or cupular, fleshy or membranous, sometimes indistinct or absent, continuous or rarely discontinuous, entire, lobed, or angular (lacerate or irregularly lobed).  Stamens (2)3—5(numerous), rarely 3 long and 2 short, rarely alternating with staminodes, staminodial or absent in female flowers, alternate with petals (when stamen number equals petal number), anthers (1)2-celled, basifixed to dorsifixed, sometimes versatile, dehiscing longitudinally, obliquely, or transversely, introrse, latrorse, or extrorse (apical), connective sometimes apiculate, rarely pustular, with bilobed extension, or tipped by white gland, androgynophore occasionally present.  Ovary superior to half-inferior, often partially immersed in disk, present as pistillode or essentially absent in male flowers, completely or incompletely 2—5(10)-locular, rarely each locule horizontally divided into 1-ovulate locelli, placentation axile, rarely intruded parietal or basal, ovules erect, axile, or pendulous, 1—12(—numerous) per locule.  Style terminal, simple, short to absent, stigmas simple or lobed, rarely ovary with stigmatic lines on each carpel on margin of an apical hollow with style-like central column arising from base of hollow.  Fruit a loculicidally and/or septicidally dehiscent capsule (rarely beaked), schizocarp of 2—5 indehiscent mericarps, drupe, berry, or samara with a single apical wing, 3—5 lateral wings, or a single surrounding wing, rarely an indehiscent capsule or nut with lateral style, pericarp woody, bony, coriaceous, fleshy, or chartaceous, rarely fibrous, capsules smooth, angular, deeply lobed, transversely flattened and lobed to base (or rarely lobed + halfway to base or entirely connate), rarely echinate, laterally winged, lateral or oblique horn-like outgrowths, or flattened along each locule.  Seeds 1—numerous, smooth or occasionally furrowed, with unbranched or occasionally branched raphe, albuminous or exalbuminous, sometimes winged, wing membranous, basal (sometimes reduced to narrow stipe), apical, or surrounding seed, exarillate or aril basal to completely enveloping seed, membranous, fleshy (rarely with basal or apical filamentous extensions), or mucilaginous.

A subcosmopolitan family of about 97 currently recognized genera and about 1,194 species that is most diverse in the tropics and subtropics, with fewer temperate species.  One genus (Pottingeria) is tentatively included, another genus (Nicobariodendron) is insufficiently known.  Bhesa, Forsellesia, Goupia, Lophopyxis, and Perrottetia are excluded from the Celastraceae and the Celastrales.


            The above description of the Celastraceae is an updated part of my review of the family in Klaus Kubitzki’s The families and genera of vascular plants (Simmons, 2004).  Other descriptions of the family include:


Görts-van Rijn, A.R.A., Mennega, A.M.W. 1994. 110.  Hippocrateaceae. In: Görts-van Rijn, A.R.A. (ed.) Flora of the Guianas, 16: 3-81. Königstein: Koeltz Scientific Books.

Hallé, N. 1962. Monographie des Hippocratéacées d'Afrique occidentale. Mém. Inst. Franç. Afrique Noire 64: 1-245.

Hallé, N. 1986. Celastraceae Hippocrateoideae. In: Morat, P. (ed.) Flore du Gabon: (avec compléments pour d'autres pays d'Afrique et Madagascar) 29: 1-287. Paris: Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Laboratoire de Phanérogamie.

Hallé, N. 1990. Celastracées (Hippocrateoidées). In: Satabié, B., Morat, P. (eds.) Flore du Cameroun 32: 3-243. Yaoundé: Ministere de l'Enseignement Superieur de l'Informatique et de la Recherche Scientifique Mesires.

Hou, D. 1962. Celastraceae - I. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (ed.) Flora Malesiana I, 6: 227-291. Leyden: Flora Malesiana Foundation.

Hou, D. 1964. Celastraceae - II. In: van Steenis, C.G.G.J. (ed.) Flora Malesiana I, 6: 389-421. Leyden: Flora Malesiana Foundation.

Loesener, T. 1942a. Celastraceae. In: Engler, A., Harms, H., Mattfeld, J. (eds.) Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien 20b: 87-197. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

Loesener, T. 1942b. Hippocrateaceae. In: Engler, A., Harms, H., Mattfeld, J. (eds.) Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien 20b: 198-231. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

Robson, N.K.B., Hallé, N., Mathew, B., Blakelock, R. 1994. Celastraceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (ed.) Flora of tropical east Africa 108: 1-78. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema.

Simmons, M. P. 2004. Celastraceae. Pages 29-64 in The families and genera of vascular plants, volume 6 (K. Kubitzki, ed.). Springer, Berlin.


o       Celastrus:

§         Cognitolä (C. paniculatus oil)                                                                                                                                    

o       Ethnobotany:

§         Maytenus ilicifolia

§         Maytenus krukovii

o       Floras:

§         Biota of North America

§         Brooklyn Botanic Garden

§         Costa Rica

o       Euonymus:

§         burning bush (E. alatus) as a weed

o       Images:

§         Antiquarian flower books

§         Diversity of Life

§         Texas A & M

§         Tropicos Images

·        Celastraceae sensu stricto

·        “Hippocrateaceae”

§         University of Hawaii

§         University of Wisconsin

o       Khat (Catha edulis):

§         All About Khat

§         Everything about Qat/khat/kat

§         The New Lycaeum



Peripterygia marginata

Dicarpellum pancheri

Maytenus fournieri


Polycardia phyllanthoides

“Star of Madagascar” by Joe Kawakami

“Star of Madagascar” by Joe Kawakami


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