1. Ulmaceae Mirb.

    1. This family is accepted.


Torres, R.B. (2009). Neotropical Ulmaceae.


Trees or shrubs, unarmed , andromonoecious or dioecious . Leaves alternate , distichous , simple , margins entire or serrate , venation pinnate , rarely trinerved , cystoliths sometimes present, deciduous or persistent , stipules lateral . Inflorescence axillary , racemose, fasciculate or paniculate. Flowers hermaphrodite or unisexual, little showy, white, yellowish or greenish; perianth 4-5 (-9) lobed ; stamens 4-16, opposite to the perianth lobes; anthers longitudinally dehiscent , ovary superior , sessile or stipitate; carpels 2, 1 (-2) locular, locule 1-ovulate, pendulous placentation. Fruit a samara or drupe ; seeds with thin testa.

General Description
Notes on delimitation
  • The Ulmaceae were previously divided into two tribes or subfamilies - The Ulmoideae and Celtidoideae. Data on morphology, cytology, chemistry and molecular evidence indicate, however, that the Ulmaceae and Cannabaceae (Celtidaceae) are distinct families and that the Cannabaceae (Celtidaceae) is closer to the Moraceae, and some other families in the Urticales, than to the Ulmaceae. The positioning of Ampelocera in Ulmaceae is still controversial.
Number of genera
  • Three genera and 13 species in the Neotropics: Ampelocera (9 spp.) Phyllostylon (2 spp.) and Ulmus (2 sp.).
General notes
  • Species of Ampelocera are hardwood and are used in building homes, furniture or dormant, likewise Ulmus mexicana, whose wood is also heavy and durable. The bark of Ampelocera edentula Kuhlm. is astringent, toxic and ulcerative, and it is used by the population of the Pichis valley, Peru, for tattoos.
  • Native: Ampelocera, Phyllostylon and Ulmus  (Ulmus mexicana Planch. and U. ismaelis Todzia & Panero).
Distribution in the Neotropics

Family of about 7 genera and 40 species, distributed in temperate and tropical regions. In the Neotropics there are 3 genera and about 13 species:

  • Ampelocera Klotzsch - Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Hispaniola, Amazon basin, Bolivia to southern Brazil.
  • Phyllostylon Capanema ex Benth. - Mexico, Caribbean islands to Paraguay and Argentina, and southern Brazil.
  • Ulmus L. - Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Unarmed trees or shrubs.
  • Leaves simple, alternate, distichous, with stipules.
  • Flowers bisexual or unisexual.
  • Fruit samara or drupaceous.
Key differences from similar families

Key differences from Cannabaceae and Moraceae:

  • Plants without latex, unarmed (sometimes armed in Cannabaceae, usually with latex in Moraceae).
  • Leaves simple, alternate, distichous, sometimes with cystoliths, stipules lateral (leaves simple or compound, alternate or opposite, without cystoliths, stipules lateral in Cannabaceae; Moraceae generally with simple leaf, alternate, rarely opposite, without cystoliths, usually terminalstipule).
  • Perianthimbricate at pre-anthesis (imbricate in Cannabaceae, imbricate or valvular in Moraceae).
  • Fruit samara or drupaceous (drupe or achene in Cannabaceae and Moraceae, sometimes forming compoundfruit (syconium) in the latter).
Useful tips for generic identification

Key to genera of the Neotropical Ulmaceae

1. Leaves with entire or serrate margin, secondary veins curved before the margin — 2
1. Leaves with serrate or biserrate margin, at least some secondary veins terminating at the margin — Ulmus

2. Fruit a samara with 2 unequal, falcate wings — Phyllostylon
2. Fruit drupaceous —. Ampelocera


1. Fruit drupaceous — Ampelocera
1. Fruit a samara — 2

2. Samara 1-winged — Ulmus
2. Samara with 2 unequal and falcate wings — Phyllostylon

Important literature

Linares, J.L. 2005. Primer registro de Ulmus ismaelis (Ulmaceae) para Centroamérica. Revista Mexic. de Biodiv. 76 (1): 95-98.

Nee, M. 1984. Ulmaceae. Flora de Vera Cruz. Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones sobre Recursos Bióticos, Vera Cruz. Fascículo 40, p. 34-38.

Sytsma, K.J., Morawetz. J., Pires, J.C., Nepokroff, M., Conti, E., Zjhra, M., Hall, J.C. & Chase, M.W. 2002. Urticalean Rosids: circumscription, Rosid ancestry, and phylogenetics based on rbcL, trnL-F, and ndhF sequences. Amer. J. Bot. 89(9): 1531-1546.

Todzia, C.A. 1989. A revision of Ampelocera (Ulmaceae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 76: 1087-1102.

Todzia, C.A. 1992. A reevaluation of the genus Phyllostylon (Ulmaceae). SIDA 15(2): 263-270.

Todzia, C.A. & Panero, J.L. 1998. A new species of Ulmus (Ulmaceae) from southern México and a synopsis of the species in Mexico. Brittonia 50 (3): 343-347.

Torres, R.B. & Luca, A.Q. 2005. Ulmaceae. In M.G.L. Wanderley, G.J. Shepherd, T.S. Melhem & A.M. Giulietti (eds.). Flora Fanerogâmica do Estado de São Paulo. Fapesp & Rima, São Paulo. p. 361-369.

Wiegrefe, S.J., Sytsma, K.J. & Guries, R.P. 1998. The Ulmaceae, one family or two? Evidences from chloroplast DNA restriction site mapping. Pl. Syst. and Evol. 210: 249-270.


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

Trees or shrubs
Leaves alternate, simple, often unequal-sided; stipules paired, caducous
Flowers fasciculate, hermaphrodite or unisexual
Calyx herbaceous, lobes imbricate, persistent
Petals absent
Stamens inserted at the bottom of the calyx, erect in bud, opposite the calyx-lobes; anthers 2-celled, opening lengthwise
Ovary of 2 connate carpels, 1–2-celled; styles 2, divergent Ovules solitary, pendulous from near the top
Fruit usually compressed, membranous, dry or thinly fleshy, often winged or appendiculate
Seed without endosperm; embryo straight or curved

Ulmaceae, C. M. Wilmot-Dear. Flora Zambesiaca 9:6. 1991

Trees or shrubs, monoecious or dioecious, sometimes spiny
Leaves alternate, simple; lamina often unequal-sided at base; stipules lateral, caducous
Flowers small, unisexual or bisexual, regular, axillary, solitary or in cymes or clusters
Sepals 4–5(8), imbricate or valvate, free or shortly united, persistent
Petals absent
Stamens as many as, and opposite to, the calyx lobes or (not in south tropical Africa) a few more, inserted at the base of the calyx, erect in bud; anthers 2-thecous, opening longitudinally
Ovary superior, of 2 united carpels, 1(2)-locular; styles 2, divergent; ovule solitary, pendulous from or near apex, anatropous
Fruit thinly fleshy or compressed, dry and ± winged or appendiculate; endocarp hard
Seeds without endosperm; embryo curved or (not in south tropical Africa) straight

Ulmaceae, R. M. Polhill. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1966

Trees or shrubs, sometimes armed
Leaves simple, alternate; blade often unequal-sided
Stipules lateral, usually free, often small and caducous
Flowers small, polygamous, solitary or in axillary cymes or clusters
Sepals 4–8, free or shortly united, imbricate or valvate, persistent
Petals absent
Stamens the same number as the calyx-lobes and opposite them or a few more, inserted at the base of the calyx, erect in bud; anthers 2-thecous, opening lengthwise
Ovary of 2 connate carpels, 1–2-locular; styles 2, divergent; ovule solitary, pendulous from near the top, anatropous
Fruits either compressed, dry and ± winged or appendiculate, or thinly fleshy
Seeds without endosperm; embryo straight or curved
The family is rather poorly represented in Africa, but the species which do occur are mostly widespread across the continent About 14 genera and 120 species, mostly tropical and north temperate


Ulmaceae Mirb. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Elém. Physiol. Vég. Bot. 2: 905. 1815 [24-30 Jun 1815] (1815)

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.