Leeaceae (DC.) Dum.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs, or trees, or shrubs (the branches sometimes prickly). Self supporting (without tendrils, by contrast with Vitaceae). Leaves alternate (usually), or opposite; petiolate; non-sheathing; simple (rarely), or compound; unifoliolate (rarely), or ternate (rarely), or pinnate, or bipinnate to multiply compound (to tripinnate). Lamina pinnately veined; cross-venulate. Leaves exstipulate (but the petioles sometimes exhibiting auricles or sheathing expansions near the base). Lamina margins usually dentate.
Leaf anatomy. Leaves with ‘pearl glands’ (commonly, these deciduous), or without ‘pearl glands’. Stomata present; anomocytic (rarely), or cyclocytic, or actinocytic.
Lamina dorsiventral. The mesophyll containing mucilage cells (with or without raphides); containing calcium oxalate crystals. The mesophyll crystals raphides and druses. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells.
Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring. Vessel end-walls simple. Primary medullary rays wide. Wood parenchyma paratracheal. Sieve-tube plastids P-type; type I (b).
Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite.
Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. The ultimate inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences terminal (usually, usually erect), or axillary (rarely); usually large, corymbose and many-flowered, often rusty-tomentose. Flowers small; regular; (3–)5 merous; cyclic; tetracyclic. Free hypanthium absent.
Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; (8–)10; 2 whorled; isomerous. Calyx (4–)5; 1 whorled; gamosepalous; shortly toothed; cupuliform; regular; valvate. Corolla (4–)5; 1 whorled; gamopetalous; valvate; regular (the petals often reflexed at anthesis).
Androecium (4–)5. Androecial members basally adnate (to the corolla); all equal; coherent (the filaments connate above the fusion with the corolla, forming a tube which sometimes has entire or bifid lobes alternating with the anthers, and which sometimes proliferates internally near the middle to form a pendulous, tubular-obconic membrane); 1 adelphous; 1 whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens (4–)5; isomerous with the perianth; alternisepalous; opposite the corolla members. Anthers introrse; tetrasporangiate. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Anther epidermis persistent. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral. Anther wall initially with more than one middle layer (2). Tapetum glandular. Pollen grains aperturate; 3 aperturate; colporate; psilate; 2-celled.
Gynoecium 2–3(–4) carpelled (with each primary ‘carpel’ incompletely divided lengthwise by a ‘false septum’ from its midrib), or 4–6(–8) carpelled (if the same structure be so interpreted). Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth, or isomerous with the perianth, or increased in number relative to the perianth (depending on the interpretation). The pistil 2–8 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior (but often somewhat embedded in a disk). Ovary 4–6(–8) locular. Locules secondarily divided by ‘false septa’, or without ‘false septa’ (depending on interpretation). Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1. Stigmas 1; capitate; dry type; papillate; Group II type. Placentation basal. Ovules 1 per locule (i.e. in each chamber, though the ‘carpels’ may be interpreted as biovulate); sunken in the placenta (often); ascending; anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Endosperm formation nuclear. Embryogeny asterad.
Fruit fleshy; indehiscent; a berry (with sometimes thin flesh). Seeds endospermic. Endosperm ruminate; oily. Cotyledons 2.
Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.
Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins present; cyanidin and delphinidin. Flavonols present; kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin. Ellagic acid absent. Saponins/sapogenins absent. Aluminium accumulation not found. Sugars transported as sucrose.
Geography, cytology. Paleotropical. Tropical. Palaeotropical.
Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Santaliflorae; Vitidales. Cronquist’s Subclass Rosidae; Rhamnales. APG 3 Order Vitales (as a synonym of Vitaceae).
Species 70. Genera 1; only genus, Leea.