The Myrsinaceae are trees or shrubs comprising about 30 genera and 1,000 species. The leaves are simple, glandular punctate, usually alternate and coriaceous; stipules are absent. The flowers are actinomorphic and bisexual or unisexual. The calyx comprises 4-6 separate, or more commonly, basally connate sepals. The corolla is usually gamopetalous, with 4-6 lobes. The androecium consists of 4-6 stamens opposite the corolla lobes and usually adnate to the corolla. The anthers dehisce by longitudinal slits or commonly by apical pores or slits. The gynoecium consists of a single compound pistil of 3-6 carpels, a single style, and a usually superior ovary with a single locule containing one to several basal or free central ovules embedded in an engorged placenta. The fruit is a drupe.

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.

Ardisia crenata, Hilo holly. Notice the terminal dehiscence of the anthers and their position opposite the corolla lobes. Also visible on the fruits, corolla, anthers, and peduncles, are the glandular dots characteristic of the family. These would be more clearly visible on the leaves with appropriate lighting.
Ardisia elliptica, shoebutton ardisia. This species exhibits the sympetalous corolla and stamens opposing the corolla lobes that are typical for the family. Visualization of the glandular dots would be enhanced by transmitted light.
Embelia pacifica, kilioe. This endemic Hawaiian species exhibits the glandular dots on the leaves that are typical for the family.
myr_dens.jpg (8558 bytes) Myrsine denticulata, Myrsinaceae, kolea.
Myrsine lessertiana, kolea lau nui. This is one of several species of Myrsinaceae native to Hawaii. The reddish coloration of the new leaves is a helpful field character. As seen in the lower photo, this endemic Hawaiian species has greenish to yellowish flowers with sympetalous corollas and stamens that are opposite the corolla lobes.

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