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The small family Bataceae comprises only two species in the genus Batis, one of which (B. argillicola) occurs in coastal saline habitats around northern Australia. The other occurs along tropical coastlines of America and Hawaii.

Characteristic features of the family Bataceae in Australia include:

  • small shrubs of saltmarshes and strandlines, with fleshy leaves
  • flowers inconspicuous, unisexual with males and females borne on the same or different plants
  • perianth absent or vestigial in female flowers; male flowers with four greenish, tepal-like organs, enclosed initially in a sac-like structure
  • fruit a sea-dispersed drupe with a distinct bulge on one side


Evergreen shrubs. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants glabrous. Leaves opposite, sessile. Stipules absent or present, distinct and free from the petiole; scale-like or membranous, falling off early. Lamina simple, symmetric, filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, oblanceolate, obovate or oblong; base cuneate or saccate; margins entire, ±flat, involute or incurved; one-veined, with the midrib inconspicuous, and the tertiary venation not reticulate; surfaces not punctate; succulent. Male and female flowers occurring on the same plant. Inflorescences axillary, consisting of spikes. Bracts 2. Bracteoles 2. Flowers sessile. Floral disc absent. Perianth regular, of 1 whorl (male) or absent (female), initially fused, with 2 sepaloid or petaloid segments, bell-shaped, green or white, without contrasting markings, herbaceous or succulent. Fertile stamens 4, free of the perianth, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Staminodes 4, petaloid. Anthers dorsifixed, versatile, opening inwards by longitudinal slits; 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpels 2, fused; ovary with 4 locules. Style branching from the base, or absent and the stigma ±sessile on the ovary. Ovules 4 per locule, stalked; placentation basal or parietal. Fruit a fleshy, indehiscent drupe; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous. Disseminule macro-surface costate; micro-surface ±verrucose, yellow or brown, dull. Seeds 4 per fruit. Aril absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight or curved.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Bataceae has been published in:
Flora of Australia 8: 379-381.

Australian genera of Bataceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)


Batis argillicola (fruiting plant)
Photo: G.Wightman G.Wightman 

Batis argillicola (habit)
Photo: G.Wightman G.Wightman