1. Frankeniaceae Desv.

    1. This family is accepted.


Frankeniaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:1. 1954

Herbs or shrublets; leaves opposite, exstipulate, often small and ericoid
Flowers actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, solitary r cymose, small
Sepals 4–6, persistent, connate, induplicate-valvate
Petals as many as the sepals, free, clawed, with a scale-like appendage on the inside, imbricate
Stamens usually 6, hypogynous, free or shortly connate at the base; anthers 2-celled, didymous, dehiscing longitudinally
Ovary superior, sessile, 1-celled, with 2–4 parietal placentas; ovules numerous; style simple, filiform
Capsule enclosed in the persistent calyx, opening by valves
Seeds with endosperm; embryo straight, axile

Every, J.L.R. (2009). Neotropical Frankeniaceae.


Shrubs or subshrubs, evergreen or woody perennials of low stature, usually halophytic or gypsophilous with salt glands and often with simple , unicellular indumentum on stems, leaves and calyces.  Leaves up to 14mm in length, simple , opposite, decussate , sclerophyllous and ericoid, occasionally succulent , blade margins slightly to strongly revolute , sometimes fringed with short, soft trichomes, leaf sheath extending along petiole margins when petiolate , decussate when sessile , midvein inconspicuous to prominently abaxially raised; without stipules.  Inflorescence terminal , sometimes axillary , solitary or in few-to many-flowered dichasia; bracteoles 2 and often with 2 additional bracts, these often basally connate , subtending flowers, leaf like; peduncles usually absent.  Flowers actinomorphic , usually bisexual or rarely unisexual then gynodiocecious, sessile ; calyx synsepalous, tubular, 4-5 (-6)- lobed , strongly ribbed; petals 4-5(-6), free , clawed; ligule or scale-like appendage present adaxillary at petal base; androecium with 3-6(-8) stamens, anthers often orange-red (3-5 staminodes present in pistillate flowers of F. triandra J. Remy); gynoecium with superior ovary , 3 united carpels, 1 locule , the style filiform with 3 branches; placentation basal - parietal , ovules (1-)3(-many).  Fruits glabrous , papery, loculicidally dehiscent capsules, surrounded by persistent calyx , brown to golden brown, white or yellow.  Seeds 1-8(-40) per fruit .

General Description
Notes on delimitation
  • Currently placed in the non-core Caryophyllales as sister family to the non-Neotropical Tamaricaceae (APG II, 2003) with which they share many similarities including capsular fruit and a straight embryo. 
  • Placed in the Violales by Cronquist, who recognized a third genus Anthobryum Phil. (= F . triandra) along with Frankenia L. and the monotypicHypericopsis Boiss. which occurs only in Southern Iran.
Number of genera
  • One genus Frankenia L.with two Neotropical and two Mexican species.


General notes
  • Known as the "Revolver flowers" due to the prominent ligules which project inward, dividing the inner portion of the flower into separate compartments.
  • Frankenia was named after J. Franke, professor of botany at Uppsala.
Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Frankenia chilensis Presl: coastal areas of S Peru and N Chile, saline conditions.
  • F. triandra: an inland species, also found in S Peru and N Chile, NW Argentina and the Puna of Bolivia at 3,350-4,800m.

Two further species are found just outside the floristic area but are nonetheless worthy of a mention;

  • F. gypsophilia I. M. Johnst: Chihuahuan Desert in sections of Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas, Mexico at 1,600-2,200 m. Restricted to gypseous soils.
  • F. margaritae Medrano: endemic and a dominant species of Nuevo León, found at 1,900m.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Salt glands present on stems, leaves and calyces.
  • Leaves opposite and decussate.
  • Revolute leaf blades.
  • Pedicels absent.
  • Petals clawed.
  • Filiformstyle with 3 branches.
  • Carpels 3.
  • Fruits with persistentcalyx.
  • Foliage with a sweet musky odour.
Other important characters
  • Halophytic (gypsophilous in F. gypsophila).
  • Bisexual (unisexual in F. triandra - gynodiocecious).
  • Dwarf, evergreenhabit (F. triandra forms dense hard cushions only a few cm high).
  • Petiolate (except in F. gypsophila).
  • Peduncles absent (except F. chilensis)
  • Bracteolate; bracteoles 2 and distinct (F. triandra), or often 2 with 2 additional bracts, these often basally connate, subtending the flowers and leaf like.
  • Calyx synsepalous and tubular (or campanulate to urceolate in F. triandra).
  • Fruit white or yellow (brown to golden brown F. chilensis).
Key differences from similar families

Differs from Plumbaginaceae in having:

  • Revolute leaves.
  • Pedicels absent.
  • Ligule-like appendage present adaxially at petal base.
  • 1-3 carpels.
Important literature

APG II, 2003. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141(4): 399-436.

Heywood, V.H., R.K. Brummitt, Culham, A. and Seberg, O. (eds.). Flowering plant families of the world, p.150-1. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Maas, P. J. M. & Westra, L. Y. Th. 2005. Neotropical Plant Families. 3rd ed. P. 132. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell.

Smith, N. 2004. Frankeniaceae. P. 163. In: Smith, N., Mori, S. A., Henderson, A., Stevenson, D. W. and Heald, S. V. (eds.). Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. The New York Botanical Garden, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Stevens, P. F. (2008). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9 onwards. http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/.

Watson, L. and M. J. Dallwitz (1992 onwards). The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. Version: 14th December 2000.Whalen, M. A. 1987. The systematics of Frankenia (Frankeniaceae) in North and South America. Systematic Botany Monographs. Vol. 17. The American Society of Plant Taxonomists.



Frankeniaceae Desv. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Dict. Rais. Bot. 188. 1817 [12-19 Apr 1817] (as "Frankenieae") (1817)

Accepted by

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


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.