Paul J.M. Maas and Hiltje Maas-van de Kamer.
National Herbarium, Wageningen University Branch, the Netherlands.
Perennial, herbs, rhizomatose, sometimes stoloniferous or cormiferous, often with red latex. Leaves parallel-veined, distichous, equitant, linear or ensiform, mainly radical, sheathing at the base. Inflorescence a terminal, bracteate thyrse, the partial inflorescences lax or dense cincinni. Indument of inflorescence and floral parts composed of simple hairs or lacking. Flowers actinomorphic to zygomorphic, shortly pedicellate; tepals 6, arranged in 2 whorls, free or basally connate; stamens 1-3, unequal, inserted at the base of the inner tepals, filaments short, basifixed, introrsely and longitudinally dehiscent; staminodes 0-2, inserted at the base of the inner tepals (Pyrrorhiza Maguire & Wurdack) or outer tepals (Schiekia Meisn.); style 1, filiform, stigma simple to slightly 3-lobulate; ovary superior to inferior, 3-locular, ovules 2-many, anatropous, placentation axile, septal nectaries present (except in Xiphidium Aubl.). Fruit a 3-locular, loculicidally dehiscent capsule. Seeds 2-many per locule, tuberculate, hairy, or glabrous.
Notes on delimitation
- The Haemodoraceae family is placed in the order of Commelinales, together with 2 families which also occur in the Neotropics, namely Commelinaceae and Pontederiaceae.
Distribution in the Neotropics
- All over the Neotropics, but also in the USA and Canada (Lachnanthes Elliott).
Distinguishing characters (always present)
- Perennial herbs.
- Leaves distichous, equitant, parallel-veined.
- Inflorescence a terminal thyrse.
- Indument of inflorescence and floral parts (if present) composed of simple hairs.
- Tepals 6, in 2 whorls.
- Ovary 3-locular.
- Placentation axile.
- Fruit a loculicidally dehiscent capsule.
Other important characters
- Plants often with red sap in the rhizomes or stolons.
- Leaves linear to ensiform.
- Stamens 1-3, unequal.
- 0-2 staminodes present in 2 genera.
- Ovary superior to inferior.
- Ovules 2-many.
Key differences from similar families
- The red sap in their underground parts.
- Unequal stamens.
- Sometimes having staminodes.
Number of genera
- Lachnanthes - (1 sp.)
- Pyrrorhiza - (1 sp.)
- Schiekia - (1 sp.)
- Xiphidium - (2 spp.)
Useful tips for generic identification
Key to genera of Neotropical Haemodoraceae
1. Ovary inferior; stamens 3; inflorescence and outer side of tepals densely covered with white, woolly hairs ... Lachnanthes1. Ovary superior; stamens 1 or 3; inflorescence and outer side of tepals glabrous to hairy, but never covered with woolly hairs ... 2
2. Inflorescence a thyrse, composed of two to four 5-7-flowered cincinni; stamen 1; cormiferous herbs ... Pyrrorhiza2. Inflorescence a thyrse, composed of many 3-25-flowered cincinni; stamens 3; rhizomatous herbs ... 3
3. Staminodes 2; outer side of tepals hairy; ovary with 3-6 ovules per locule; fruit with 2-4 seeds per locule... Schiekia3. Staminodes absent; outer side of tepals glabrous; ovary with 7-many ovules per locule; fruit with many seeds per locule... Xiphidium
- All genera are native in the Neotropics.
- The red-coloured pigment often present in the underground parts - arylphenalenone haemocorin - is unique in the Plant Kingdom.
Maas, P.J.M. & H. Maas-van de Kamer. 1993. Haemodoraceae. Flora Neotropica Monograph 61: 1-44.
Simpson, M.G. 1998. Haemodoraceae. In: K. Kubitzki (ed.), The families and genera of vascular plants 4: 212-222.
How to cite
Maas, P.J.M. & Maas-van de Kamer, H. (2009). Neotropical Haemodoraceae. 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/Haemodoraceae.htm.