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  1. Dichapetalaceae Baill.

    1. This family is accepted.


Dichapetalaceae, A. R. Torre. Flora Zambesiaca 2:1. 1963

Shrublets or erect or scandent shrubs or rarely trees
Leaves alternate, subsessile or petiolate, simple, entire, often provided with glands at the base and below the apex; stipules caducous or persistent
Inflorescence of cymes, fascicles or glomerules, often axillary
Flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, bisexual or rarely unisexual by abortion
Sepals 5, ± connate below
Petals 5, equal (in actinomorphic flowers) or unequal (in zygomorphic flowers), often 2-dentate, 2-lobed or 2-fid at the apex, sometimes united with the stamens at the base
Stamens (4) 5, all fertile or 2–3 fertile and 2 staminodes; anthers introrse
Disk annular or often divided into 5 squamulous hypogynous glands, distinct or connate
Ovary superior or semi-inferior, composed of 2–3 carpels, 2–3-locular, with 2 pendulous ovules in each loculus; style simple, 2–3-lobulate or 2–3-fid at the apex
Fruits drupaceous, with 3 (often reduced to 2 or 1) ± separate mericarps, 1–2-seeded
Seeds without endosperm; cotyledons containing starch

Prance, G.T. (2009). Neotropical Dichapetalaceae.


Trees, shrubs, lianas, or suffruticose subshrubs. Stipules present but usually caducous , sometimes fimbriate Leaves simple , alternate , entire , pinnately veined. Inflorescence corymbose-cymose of subcapitate, or the flowers fasciculate , axillary or more frequently attached to the petiole or rarely to the midrib . Flowers small, hermaphrodite or less frequently unisexual, actinomorphic to weakly zygomorphic ; pedicels often articulated. Petals 5, either free , imbricate and almost equal, or connate into a tube, with lobes equal or markedly unequal, lobes usually bifid at apex and frequently bicucullate or inflexed; often clawed at base. Stamens 5, all fertile or only 3 fertile, free or adnate to the corolla tube, with filaments or rarely anthers sessile ; anthers bilocular , dehiscing longitudinally.  Disc of 5 equal or unequal hypogynous glands alternating with stamens, or united into a disc . Ovary superior , free , 2-3, locular, ovules anatropous, pendulous, paired at top of each loculus. Styles 2-3, free or more frequently connate nearly to apex , often recurved stigma capitate or simple Fruit a dry or rarely a fleshy drupe ; epicarp most frequently pubescent ; mesocarp thin; endocarp hard; 1-2 (-3) locular, loculi usually with only one seed developing; seed pendulous, without endosperm ; embryo large, erect .

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • A tropical family of about 240 species in three genera, distributed throughout the lowland tropical regions of both hemispheres (but absent from Polynesia and Micronesia), extending into the subtropics in Africa and India.
Useful tips for generic identification

Key to genera of Neotropical Dichapetalaceae

1.  Petals free and regular; stamens free; inflorescence with a long distict peduncle.... Dichapetalum
1.  Petals connate or only 3 free; stamens adnate to corolla tube; inflorescences essile or almost so ... 2

2.  Corolla with 5 equal obtuse lobes, shorter than tube; fertile stamens 5, anthers sessile on tube ...   Stephanopodium
2.  Corolla zygomorphic, lobes bifid and bicucullate, exceeding tube in length; fertile stamens 3 or 5, anthers on slender filaments ...Tapura

Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • The inflorescence is often borne on the petioles and rarely on the midrib.
  • The petals are usually two-lobed and cucullate and dry black.
  • Fimbriate stipules occur in some species of Dichapetalum Thouars.
General Description
  • Stephanopodium is endemic to the Neotropics.
  • Dichapetalum and Tapura also occur in the Old World tropics.
  • All three genera are native to the Neotropics.
General notes
  • Some species are poisonous, especially to cattle.
Number of genera
  • Three: Dichapetalum, Stephanopodium Poepp. & Endl., Tapura Aubl.
Notes on delimitation
  • The family has been variously placed, often in the Euphorbiales.
  • Cronquist placed it in the Celastrales near to the Icacinaceae.
  • Recent molecular work shows that it belongs in the Malpighiales and is very close to the Chrysobalanaceae, Trigoniaceae and Euphroniaceae.
Important literature

Prance, G. T. 1972. Monograph of Dichapetalaceae. Flora Neotropica 10: 1-84.

Prance, G. T. 2001. Dichapetalaceae. Flora de Colombia 20: 1-62.


Dichapetalaceae, F.J. Breteler (Agricultural University, Wageningen). Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1988

Trees, shrubs, subshrubs or lianas
Stipules present, caducous or persistent, simple, entire, or variously lobed or divided
Leaves alternate, simple, entire, pinnately nerved, often glandular
Inflorescences axillary, sometimes arranged on leafless axillary or terminal shoots, cymose, distinctly branched to subglobose, sessile to pedunculate, the peduncle free or adnate to petiole; bracts and bracteoles usually small
Flowers small, actinomorphic to zygomorphic, (4–)5-merous, bisexual (Africa) to unisexual; pedicel usually articulate, the upper part (the true pedicel) absent to very distinct
Sepals (4–)5, subequal to strongly unequal, imbricate, free or shortly united, rarely forming a tube
Petals (4–)5, equal to very unequal, alternating with the sepals, free or nearly so, or, more often, united with the alternating stamens into a very short to distinct tube, entire or bilobed to bicucullate apically
Androecium of 2–5 stamens and 0–3 staminodes, opposite the sepals; anthers dithecous, introrse, opening by longitudinal slits, usually with a distinct connective
Sterile Parts
Basal staminodes (disc-glands, disc-lobes, hypogynous glands) 1–5, opposite the petals, free or united into a disc, variously shaped
Pistil 2–3(–4)-merous; ovary superior, with 2 collateral pendulous anatropous ovules in each locule, raphe ventral, obturator distinct or not; styles 2–3(–4), free or nearly so, more often almost completely united with free apical parts
Fruit a drupe with 1–3(–4) 1-seeded free pyrenes, deeply lobed or not; exocarp dehiscent or indehiscent; mesocarp ± fleshy; endocarp indehiscent, usually with a distinct apical, and usually partly ventral, suture, pergamentaceous to woody or bony, hairy inside or not
Seeds exalbuminous, rarely with some albumen; testa usually thin, glabrous, rarely hairy; cotyledons usually planoconvex
Germination usually hypogeal, first pair of leaves opposite or alternate

Chailletiaceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:2. 1958

Small trees or shrubs, sometimes climbing
Leaves alternate, simple; stipules present
Flowers small, mostly hermaphrodite, actinomorphic or slightly zygomorphic
Sepals 5, free or partially connate, imbricate
Petals mostly 2-lobed or 2-partite, free or united with the stamens into a tube
Stamens 5, alternate with the petals, free or united; anthers 2-celled, opening lengthwise, the connective often dorsally thickened
Hypogynous glands opposite to the petals, free or connate
Ovary superior to quite inferior, 2–3-celled; style mostly simple, 2–3-fid at the apex; ovules 2 in each cell, pendulous
Fruit a drupe, dry or rarely fleshy, sometimes the epicarp splitting
Seeds without endosperm; embryo large, straight


Accepted Genera


Other Data

Dichapetalaceae Baill. appears in other Kew resources:


First published in Fl. Bras. (Martius) 12(1): 365. 1886 [1 Apr 1886] (1886)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)


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 2020. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

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