1. Oleaceae Hoffmanns. & Link

    1. This family is accepted.


Lombardi, J.A. (2010). Neotropical Oleaceae.


Trees, shrubs or sometimes climbers ; unarmed . Leaves opposite, petiolate , commonly with swollen base, or sessile , simple , trifoliolate (Jasminum) or imparipinnate (Fraxinus, Jasminum), entire , dentate to obscurely crenulate , pilose domatia sometimes present in the axils of the primary veins and midrib , sometimes glandular in the abaxial side (Forestiera); stipules absent. Inflorescences terminal or axillary , cymose or racemose, rarely one-flowered. Flowers actinomorphic , bisexual or rarely unisexual (Forestiera, plants dioecious ); calyx 4(-15)-toothed, fused with short tube or sepals rarely free , lobes valvate , or calyx absent (Fraxinus); corolla present or absent (Forestiera, some Fraxinus) to early caducous (Priogymnanthus), 4- lobed (except some Jasminum species), fused with short tube or tube absent, rarely tube long and corolla somewhat infundibuliform or hypocrateriform (Jasminum, Menodora, Schrebera), petals sometimes united in pairs at the bases of the stamen  filaments, petals rarely free , lobes valvate or imbricate ; androecium with 2(-4) stamens, free , epipetalous, attached to the corolla tube, anthers dehiscence longitudinally; gynoecium syncarpous, ovary superior , carpels 2, locules 2, ovules 1-2(-4) per locule , axillary , pendulous, style 1, stigma 2- lobed or capitate . Fruits drupes, berries (Jasminum), samaroids (Fraxinus) or capsules (Schrebera, Menodora). Seeds 1(-2); endosperm present or near absent.

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Chionanthus L. - Mesoamerica, Caribbean.
  • Forestiera Poir. - Mesoamerica, Caribbean, and Ecuador.
  • Fraxinus L. - Mexico, Mesoamerica.
  • Haenianthus Griseb. - Cuba, Hispaniola.
  • Menodora Humb. & Bonpl. - Mexico, Southern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina.
  • Osmanthus Lour. - Mexico.
  • Priogymnanthus P.S.Green - Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay.
  • Schrebera Roxb. - Peru (?).
  • Jasminum L. - one species introduced as ornamental plant, now naturalized in South America and Caribbean.
  • Ligustrum L. - two or three species introduced as street trees, now naturalized in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.
Useful tips for generic identification
  • Leaves composite - Jasminum (trifoliolate or imparipinnate, corolla present, fruit a 2-lobed berry) and Fraxinus (imparipinnate, apetalous, except by F. cuspidata from Mexico (Fragrant ash), fruit winged).
  • Leaves simple - Chionanthus (calyx and corolla present, petals valvate, drupes with hard endocarp).
  • Forestiera (flowers unisexual, calyx vestigial or absent, corolla absent, drupes).
  • Haenianthus (calyx and corolla present, petals valvate, peltate scales in the abaxial side of petals, drupes with thin endocarp).
  • Ligustrum (calyx and corolla present, petals valvate, berries or drupes with thin endocarp).
  • Menodora (calyx and corolla present, corolla lobes imbricate, capsules).
  • Osmanthus (calyx and corolla present, petals imbricate, drupes with hard endocarp).
  • Priogymnanthus (calyx absent, corolla early caduceus, drupes)
  • Schrebera (calyx campanulate, corolla infundibuliform to hypocrateriform, lobes imbricate, capsules).
Notable genera and distinguishing features
  • Chionanthus - corolla lobes 4, united in pairs at bases and characteristically linear, sometimes shortly oblong.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Leaves opposite.
  • Corolla tetramerous and actinomorphic.
Other important characters
  • Stamens 2.
  • Ovules 2 per locule.
  • Fruit 1-seeded drupes.
Key differences from similar families
  • Leaves opposite and estipulate; flower with four petals and two stamens put this family beyond confusion with other Euasterids in the Lamiales.
General Description
  • Native (Chionanthus, Forestiera, Fraxinus, Haenianthus, Menodora, Priogymnanthus and Schrebera).
  • Cultivated and naturalised (Jasminum and Ligustrum).
Notes on delimitation
  • Included in the Lamiales by the APGIII classification.
Number of genera
  • 10 genera: Chionanthus L., Forestiera Poir., Fraxinus L., Haenianthus Griseb., Jasminum L., Ligustrum L., Menodora Humb. & Bonpl., Osmanthus Lour., Priogymnanthus P.S.Green and Schrebera Roxb.
General notes
  • Hesperelaea palmeri A.Gray, only species on the genus, was endemic of Guadalupe Island, Mexico, but is reported as extinct by introduced goats.
Important literature

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 161(3): 105-121.

Cornejo, X. & Bonifaz, C. 2006. Forestiera ecuadorensis: Una nueva especie endémica de Oleaceae y un nuevo registro genérico para Ecuador. Brittonia 58: 78-82.

Green, P.S. 1994. A Revision of Chionanthus (Oleaceae) in S. America and the Description of Priogymnanthus, gen. nov. Kew Bull. 49: 261-286.

Green, P.S. 2004. Oleaceae. In: Kadereit, J.W. (ed.). The families and genera of Vascular Plants vol 7, pp. 296-306. Springer Verlag, Berlin.Hammel, B.E. & Cornejo, X. 2009. Forestiera isabelae (Oleaceae), una especie nueva para Costa Rica. Novon 19: 52-55.

Steyermark, J.A. 1932. A revision of the genus Menodora. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 19. 87-160: 162-176.

Wallander, E. 2008. Systematics of Fraxinus (Oleaceae) and evolution of dioecy. Plant Syst. Evol. 273: 25-49.

Wallander, E. & Albert, V.A. 2000. Phylogeny and classification of Oleaceae based on rps16 and trnL-F sequence data. Amer. J. Bot. 87: 213-231.

Zona, S. 1991. A morphometric and taxonomic reevaluation of Haenianthus (Oleaceae). Canad. J. Bot. 69: 489-493.


Oleaceae, P.S. Green. Flora of West Tropical Africa 2. 1963

Trees, shrubs or climbers
Leaves opposite or very rarely alternate, simple or pinnate; stipules absent
Flowers hermaphrodite or rarely unisexual, actinomorphic
Calyx lobed or dentate
Petals present, free or connate, often 4, imbricate or induplicate-valvate
Stamens hypogynous or epipetalous, usually 2; anthers apiculate, 2-celled, cells back to back, opening lengthwise
Disk absent
Ovary superior, 2-celled, style simple with a capitate or bifid stigma; ovules usually 2 in each cell, axile, pendulous or ascending
Fruit baccate or drupaceous; seeds usually with endosperm; embryo straight, the radicle sometimes hidden within the base of the cotyledons

Oleaceae, W. B. Turrill. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1952

Trees or shrubs, the latter sometimes trailers or scramblers
Leaves generally opposite, simple or compound, exstipulate; small depressions occupied by mites and termed acarodomatia occur on the under side of the leaves of some species
Inflorescences terminal or axillary, few- to many-flowered
Flowers hermaphrodite or rarely unisexual, regular
Calyx hypogynous, often campanulate and four-toothed
Corolla gamopetalous, rarely absent or with the segments nearly free; lobes or segments generally spreading and mostly four (except in Jasminum)
Stamens usually two, epipetalous, with short filaments; no staminal disc
Ovary superior, bilocular with generally two pendulous or basal ovules in each loculus attached to the apex, side, or the base of the partition
Fruit variable, dry or fleshy, dehiscent or indehiscent
Seeds one to four per fruit; endosperm present but sometimes reduced to a thin membrane

Oleaceae, F. K. Kupicha. Flora Zambesiaca 7:1. 1983

Trees, shrubs, climbers or suffrutices
Leaves opposite, rarely verticillate or alternate, exstipulate, simple or pinnate, sometimes with acarodomatia (small ± circular pits, often densely fringed with hairs) in axils of nerves on lower leaf–surface
Inflorescence cymose, often paniculate (thyrsoid), sometimes fasciculate, sometimes only one flower developing
Flowers actinomorphic, hermaphrodite or rarely unisexual (not in FZ area), sometimes heterostylous
Calyx gamosepalous, lobes 4–many (obscure in Schrebera)
Corolla gamopetalous, lobes 4–many
Stamens 2, epipetalous
Ovary superior, bicarpellate, bilocular, with 1, 2 or 4 ovules per loculus, axile, pendulous or ascending; style 1, stigma capitate or bifid
Fruit baccate, drupaceous or capsular
Seeds sometimes winged, usually endospermous


Oleaceae Hoffmanns. & Link appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Fl. Portug. [Hoffmannsegg] 1: 62. 1809 [1 Sep 1809] (as "Oleinae") (1809)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/boj.12385


Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.