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This family is of moderate size, and found in tropical and subtropical areas of all continents. Various members of the family occur almost throughout Australia except the high alps, but most species are tropical plants from moist lowlands of northern Australia. Habitats in which they occur vary from coastal foredunes and strandlines to freshwater swamps, rain forest edges and open grasslands. Introduced species can become serious weeds of tropical and subtropical forest (e.g. Morning Glory) and crops (e.g. Bindweed); the tropical crop plant Sweet Potato is naturalised in Queensland.

Characteristic features of the family Convolvulaceae in Australia include:

  • usually climbing herbs or robust lianes, with twining stems, occasionally small shrubs or small trees, often with milky or coloured sap
  • leaves alternate, entire to deeply lobed, often more or less palmate
  • flowers usually with a prominent funnel-shaped corolla, often without discrete lobes but with distinctly thickened central portion, usually white, pink or bluish to purple
  • stamens 5, enclosed in the corolla tube
  • ovary superior, developing into a capsule or berry


Evergreen or semi-deciduous shrubs, woody or herbaceous vines climbing by twining or scrambling stems, or annual, biennial or perennial terrestrial herbs, or aquatic herbs rooted in the substrate with their leaves floating or emergent. Perennating by tubers, rhizomes, taproots or crowns. Vegetative reproduction absent or by tubers, rhizomes, stolons or root suckers. Extra-floral nectaries absent or on the foliage. Stem internodes solid, spongy, pithy or hollow, terete. Internal secretions not obvious or of milky sap (latex) or coloured sap. Plants glabrous or with simple, dendritic or stellate, non-glandular, unicellular hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral, or distichous, cauline if herbs, petiolate, subsessile, sessile or rarely peltate. Stipules and stipellae absent. Lamina simple or once compound, palmate, symmetric, pinnatifid, pinnatisect, palmatifid or palmatisect; lamina/leaflets filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, oblanceolate, ovate, oblong or orbicular; base cuneate, attenuate, rounded, cordate, hastate or sagittate, reniform, lobed or auriculate or oblique; margins entire, crenate or sinuate, ±flat; one-veined, or the venation pinnate, or palmate, the midrib conspicuous or inconspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate or not; surfaces rarely punctate; herbaceous, leathery or rarely succulent. All the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, consisting of dichasial cymes or solitary flowers. Bracts present, rarely absent. Bracteoles present. Pollination by insects. Flowers odourless; sessile or stalked. Floral disc present or absent; nectaries absent or present on the perianth or the disc. Perianth regular or rarely irregular, of 2 dissimilar. Calyx segments free or fused, with 5 sepals or lobes, imbricate in bud; calyx bell-shaped or tubular, herbaceous or papery. Corolla segments fused, with 5 lobes, alternating with the sepals or calyx lobes, imbricate or valvate in bud; corolla bell-shaped, urn-shaped, funnel-shaped or salver-shaped, rarely wheel-shaped or curved-tubular, white, cream, yellow, red, pink, magenta, purple, violet or blue, without contrasting markings, or streaked, spotted, etc, membranous; claws absent; lobes ±entire or notched, emarginate, bifid or bilobed. Fertile stamens 5, opposite to the sepals or calyx lobes, at least partly fused to the corolla, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal or in 2 unequal pairs. Anthers dorsifixed or apparently basifixed, not versatile, opening sideways by longitudinal slits; 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpels 2 (–3), fused; ovary with (1–) 2 (–3) locules. Style terminal or rarely gynobasic, single and unbranched, or branched above or from the base. Ovules (1–) 2 per locule, sessile; placentation basal or axile. Fruit dry or rarely fleshy, dehiscent or indehiscent; a capsule with loculicidal, irregular, circumscissile or operculate dehiscence, or rarely a berry; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous, dry and persistent or growing larger. Disseminule macro-surface featureless, rarely winged, brown or black, dull. Seeds 1–6 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 Convolvulaceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 30.

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

† = some species native, others introduced
* = all species introduced


Aniseia martinicensis (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © M.Fagg 

Bonamia pannosa (flowers)
Photo: D.Jones © D.Jones 

Bonamia rosea (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg © M.Fagg 

Calystegia soldanella (flower)
Photo: D.Jones © D.Jones