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Elaeagnaceae


Only one species of this predominantly Northern Hemisphere family, Elaeagnus latifolia, occurs in Australia, on streambanks and rain forest margins in north-east Queensland.

Characteristic features of the family Elaeagnaceae in Australia include:

  • shrub, scrambler or woody climber, with alternate leaves densely covered when young by silvery and brown scales which produce a metallic sheen
  • flowers with sepals only, creamy white, in racemes
  • fruit enveloped in the persistent, enlarged, orange or red, fleshy calyx tube

Description

Evergreen shrubs, woody or herbaceous vines climbing by scrambling stems. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants with stellate, non-glandular, unicellular hairs, or peltate scales. Leaves alternate and spiral, petiolate. Stipules absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, lanceolate or ovate; base cuneate or attenuate; margins entire, ±flat; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate; surfaces punctate or apparently not punctate; herbaceous or leathery. All the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences axillary, consisting of dichasial cymes or solitary flowers. Bracts present. Flowers odourless, stalked. Floral disc present. Free hypanthium present. Perianth regular, of 1 whorl only or all whorls ±similar, with 4 free or fused petaloid segments, valvate in bud, bell-shaped or tubular, white or cream, without contrasting markings, membranous or succulent; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens 4, alternating with and free or at least partly fused to the perianth segments, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Anthers dorsifixed, versatile, opening inwards by longitudinal slits, 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpel 1; ovary with 1 locule. Style terminal, single and unbranched. Ovule 1, stalked or sessile; placentation basal. Fruit fleshy, indehiscent, drupe-like (pseudodrupe); the perianth on the maturing fruit rotting or liquefying. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, red or brown. Seeds 1 per fruit. Aril ?absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.
(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 Elaeagnaceae has been published in:
Flora of Australia 16: 13.

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

Elaeagnus


Elaeagnus triflora var. triflora (flowers and fruit)
Photo: R.Purdie R.Purdie 


Eleagnus triflora (fruit)
Photo: H.Nicholson H. & N. Nicholson