Neotropical Alstroemeriaceae

Marta Camargo de Assis

Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa Meio Ambiente), Jaguariúna, SãoPaulo, Brazil. 

Description

Perennial herb, erect or twining, rhizomatous with storage roots. Leaves sessile, simple, entire, generally resupinate (twisted near the base or along the lamina), concentrated toward the apex, distributed along the stem or in a rosette on a short stem; both sides glabrous, or papillous on the adaxial side. Inflorescence a terminal, umbel-like, simple or branched cyme of 2 to many flowers or rarely flowers solitary, wrapped in leaf-like bracts. Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, bisexual; tepals 6, petaloid, free, in 2 whorls, the inner petals often shorter than the outher, patterned, basally narrowed into a canaliculate, nectariferous duct; stamens 6; anthers pseudobasifixed, dehiscence longitudinal introrse; ovary inferior, 3-carpellate, 1-locular parietal with placentation or 3-locular and axile placentation, ovules many, anatropous; style apical, stigma 3, wet. Fruit a dry, leathery or rarely fleshy loculicidal capsule (rarely a berry), rarely indehiscent. Seeds globose, with or without a red sarcotesta.

Distribution in the Neotropics

  • Alstroemeria L. - South America.
  • Bomarea Mirb. - From Central Mexico and the Antilles to South America.
  • Leontochir Phil. - Endemic to North Chile.

Distinguishing characters (always present)

Other important characters

  • Resupinate leaves.

Number of genera

3 genera:

  • Alstroemeria (including Schickendantzia Pax and Taltalia Ehr. Bayer).
  • Bomarea
  • Leontochir

Useful tips for generic identification

Key to genera of Neotropical Alstroemeriaceae

1.  Erect herb; flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic; seeds with or without sarcotesta … 2
1.  Twining herb (very rarely erect); flowers actinomorphic; seeds with sarcotesta … Bomarea

2.  Flowers zygomorphic; ovary 3-locular … Alstroemeria
2.  Flowers actinomorphic; ovary 1-locular … Leontochir

Status

All genera are native to the Neotropics.

General notes

  • The family is distributed from Central Mexico and Antilles to Patagonia, living in a wide range of habitats from cloud forests to swamps and desert areas, and from high Andes to marsh lands.
  • Some species of Bomarea and several Alstroemeria species and hybrids have gained world-wide importance as cut flower crops due to their attractive flowers and the excellent keeping quality of them. Nevertheless, they are also satisfactory for growing in pots and for garden and landscape uses.
  • The storage roots of some species of Bomarea and Alstroemeria are edible.
  • The recognized taxa have been morphologically studied in detail and data focused on floral characters, the presence or absence of resupination in the leaf, the plant height and the characteristics of the inflorescence.
  • Most of the floral characters have taxonomic importance. Several of them are also of ornamental weight such as the basic colour (which varies from yellow, orange through red-purple and violet to pink and white) the disposition, the form of the tepals and the presence or absence of spots or streaks on them.

Important literature

Aagesen, L. and Sanso, A.M. 2003. Phylogeny of the Alstroemeriaceae, based on morphology, rps16 intron, and rbsL sequence data. Syst. Bot. 28 (1): 47-69.

Assis, M.C. 2005. Alstroemeriaceae. In: Wanderley, M.G., Shepherd, G.J., Melhem, TS. and Giulietti, A.M. (eds.). Flora Fanerogâmica do Estado de São Paulo. vol. 4, p. 238-244.

Bayer, E. 1987. Die Gattung Alstroemeria in Chile. Mitt. Bot. Staatssamml. Münch. 24: 1-362.

Bayer, E. 1998. Alstroemeriaceae, pp. 79-83. In: Kubitzki, K. (ed.). The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants vol. III. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Dahlgren, R.M.T., Clifford, H.T. and Yeo, P.F. 1985. Alstroemeriaceae. The families of the Monocotyledons, pp.220-226. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Harling, G. Neuendorf, M. 2003. Alstroemeriaceae, pp. 1-108. In: Harling, G. and Andersson, L. (eds.). Flora of Ecuador vol. 71. University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg.

Hofreiter, A. 2006. Revision of Bomarea Mirb. subgenus Sphaerine (Herb.)Baker. Nordic Journal of Botany 24: 117-141.

Hofreiter, A. and Tillich, H-J. 2002. The delimitation, ecology, distribution and infrageneric subdivision of Bomarea Mirbel (Alstroemeriaceae). Feddes Repertorium 113(7-8): 528-544.

Sanso, A.M., Assis, M.C. and Xifreda, C.C. 2005. Alstroemeria a charming genus. Acta Horticulturae 686: 63-77.

Sanso, A.M. and Xifreda, C.C. 2001. Generic delimitation between Alstroemeria and Bomarea (Alstroemeriaceae). Annals of Botany 88: 1057-1069.

Sanso, A.M. 1996. El género Alstroemeria (Alstroemeriaceae) en Argentina. Darwiniana 34: 349-382.

Sanso, A.M.  and Xifreda, C.C. 1999. The synonymy of Schickendantzia with Alstroemeria (Alstroemeriaceae). Systematics and Geography of Plants 68: 315-323.

How to cite

Assis, M.C. (2009). Neotropical Alstroemeriaceae. In: Milliken, W., Klitgård, B. & Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics. http://www.kew.org/science/tropamerica/neotropikey/families/Alstroemeriaceae.htm.