Neotropical Garryaceae

Jon L.R. Every

University of Plymouth, U.K. 


Evergreen trees or shrubs. Leaves opposite, decussate, simple, entire or pinnatifid, lamina leathery, simple trichomes present or rarely absent, margin entire; estipulate; petioles connate or sub-sessile. Inflorescence terminal catkins or racemes, pedunculate. Flowers unisexual, dioecious, actinomorphic, anemophilous, bracts present, rarely absent; perianth parts 2, sepaloid, fused and massively reduced or absent in pistillate flowers, with 4 free members in staminate flowers; stamens (0-)2(-4), equal in number to perianth parts, persistent, free from and alternating with perianth members, anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits, basifixed; ovary inferior or partly inferior, syncarpous, carpels 2(-3), style 2(-3). Fruit a berry, persistent. Seeds (1-)2(-3), small.

Notes on delimitation

  • Placed as the type family in the order Garryales along with East-Asian Aucuba Thunb. and the monotypic Eucommiaceae of central China.

Distribution in the Neotropics

  • Mesophytic and semi-xerophytic environments, often forming part of the forest understorey in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.
  • Coastal chaparral to mountain slopes over 4,000m above sea-level.

Distinguishing characters (always present)

Key differences from similar families

Number of genera

  • 1: Garrya Lindl. with ca. 12 species.


  • Native but also widely cultivated as an ornamental.

Important literature

Brummitt, R.K. 2007. Garryaceae. In: V.H. Heywood, R.K. Brummitt, A. Culham and O. Seberg (eds.). Flowering Plant Families of the World. P.152. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Lentz, D.L. 2004. Garryaceae. In: Smith, N., Mori, S.A., Henderson, A., Stevenson, D.W. and Heald, S.V. (eds.). Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. P.164. The New York Botanical Garden, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Liston, A. 2003. A New Interpretation of Floral Morphology in Garrya (Garryaceae). Taxon 52(2): 271-276.

Maas, P.J.M. & Westra, L.Y.Th. 2005. Neotropical Plant Families. 358 pp. 3rd ed. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell.

Stevens, P.F. 2008. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9 onwards.

Watson, L. and Dallwitz, M.J. (1992 onwards). The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. Version 3rd March 2009.

How to cite

Every, J.L.R. (2010). Neotropical Garryaceae. In: Milliken, W., Klitgård, B. & Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.