The Commelinaceae are herbs comprising about 50 genera and 700 species that are often somewhat succulent and frequently have cymose inflorescences sometimes subtended by a boat-shaped spathe. The leaves are alternate, simple, parallel-veined, and usually with a closed sheathing base. The flowers are bisexual and actinomorphic or commonly slightly to strongly zygomorphic. The perianth is in two usually differentiated series. The calyx is usually of 3 distinct herbaceous sepals. The corolla is usually of 3 equal or sometimes unequal, distinct, deliquescent petals. The androecium typically comprises 6 distinct stamens but commonly 3 or sometimes more are reduced to staminodes. The gynoecium consists of a single simple pistil of 3 carpels, a single style and a superior ovary containing 3 or occasionally by abortion only 2 locules, each containing 1-few axile ovules. The fruit is usually a loculicidal capsule or is sometimes indehiscent.
Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.
|Cochliostema odoratissima, anthers enclosed in a hood formed from the united filaments.|
||Commelina diffusa, day flower.|
||Dichorisandra thyrsiflora, blue ginger. This unusual member of the family has petaloid sepals that are white on the front and purple on the back. Also, though not visible in this photo, the anthers of this species open by terminal pores.|
|Rhoeo spathacea, Moses-in-a-basket, oyster plant|
||Tradescantia virginiana, spiderwort, OSU, Corvallis, OR, 2003.|
|Zebrina pendula, wandering Jew. This species has an actinomorphic, trimerous flower with 6 stamens. The inflorescence is cymose and is subtended by a boat-shaped bract. It is common for the filaments to be hairy in this family.|
|Aneilema aequinoctiale. This species has zygomorphic flowers with one petal greatly reduced or obsolete. Note the green sepals. Only two stamens appear to be functional.|
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