Neotropical Coriariaceae

Jon L.R. Every

Reading University, U.K. 


Suffruticose erect or scandent, evergreen shrubs; stems terete becoming angular, branching (resembling compound leaves), lenticellate. Leaves opposite, distichous (rarely whorled), petiolate to sessile, simple, coriaceous, abaxial surface puberulent, margins entire, primary venation palmate; stipules minute, caducous. Inflorescences terminal or from previous season's growth, racemose. Flowers many, small, bracteate, bisexual, actinomorphic, pentamerous; sepals imbricate; corolla polypetalous, fleshy and persistent into fruit; stamens 10, antepetalous, whorled, adnate to perianth; anthers basifixed (rarely dorsifixed), dehiscing via full length longitudinal slits; ovary superior, carpels 5-10(-12), apocarpous or connate at base, styles long. Fruit a pseudo-drupe or achene, small ca. 2-3mm long. Seed 1-10, compressed.

Notes on delimitation

  • Placed in the Cucurbitales according to the APG III.

Distribution in the Neotropics

  • Mesophytic areas of Mexico, Central America, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and tropical Chile and Argentina.
  • Has been recorded growing as part of the pioneer community following volcanic activity.

Distinguishing characters (always present)

Other important characters

Number of genera

  • Monogeneric with one or two neotropical species.


  • Native.

General notes

  • Fruits are reported to contain poisonous compounds.
  • Flowers are wind pollinated.

Important literature

Skog, L. 1978. Coriariaceae fam. 103. In: Harling, G. and Andersson, L. (eds.), Flora of Ecuador 30:1-7. University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg.

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

Gonzalez, F. 2004. In: Smith, N., Mori, S. A., Henderson, A., Stevenson, D. W. and Heald, S. V. (eds.), Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. Pp.115-7. The New York Botanical Garden, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Mabberley, D. J. 2008. Mabberley's Plant-book. 3rd ed. P. 217. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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

APG III. 2009. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. Vol 161: 3. Pp. 105-121.

How to cite

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