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This small family is found in tropical Africa and from South-East Asia to northern Australia and to the islands of the Pacific. In Australia, two species are found in north-east Queensland and the eastern part of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Characteristic features of the family Leeaceae in Australia include:

  • scrambling shrubs with erect branches and alternate, pinnate leaves without tendrils
  • flowers small, in much-branched inflorescences, with a cup-shaped calyx and a tubular corolla with 5 spreading lobes and a cylindrical corona extending above the lobes.
  • stamens 5, with free filaments inserted in grooves of the corona, the anthers hanging into the centre
  • ovary superior or nearly so, developing into a berry


Evergreen or semi-deciduous shrubs. Stem nodes conspicuously swollen; internodes solid or spongy or pithy. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants with simple, non-glandular, unicellular or uniseriate hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral, or distichous, petiolate. Stipules apparently absent, or present and ochreate or intrapetiolar, green and leafy; stipellae absent. Lamina bicompound or tricompound, imparipinnate, symmetric; leaflets lanceolate or ovate; base rounded or oblique; margins crenate or dentate, ±flat; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate; surfaces not punctate; leathery. All the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal or leaf opposed, consisting of corymbs or dichasial cymes. Bracts present. Flowers odourless, stalked. Floral disc present; nectaries present on the disc. Perianth regular, of 2 dissimilar whorls, valvate in bud. Calyx segments fused, with 5 lobes; calyx salver-shaped, herbaceous. Corolla segments fused, with 5 lobes, alternating with the calyx lobes; corolla tubular, cream, yellow, red, pink or green, without contrasting markings, membranous or succulent; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens 5, alternating with the calyx lobes, free or at least partly fused to the corolla, free of the ovary and style, fused by their anthers, all ±equal. Anthers basifixed, not versatile, opening inwards by short slits; 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpels (3) 5 (8), fused; ovary with 38 locules. Style terminal, single and unbranched, with the stigma capitate. Ovules 1 per locule, stalked; placentation basal. Fruit a fleshy, indehiscent berry; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous or dry and persistent. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, magenta, purple or violet or black, glossy or dull. Seeds 36 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 Leeaceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 24.

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

Leea indica (flowers and fruit)
Photo: M.Fagg ANBG 

Leea indica (flowers)
Photo: M.Fagg M.Fagg 

Leea indica (habit)
Photo: M.Fagg ANBG 

Leea rubra (flowers)
Photo: D.Jones D.Jones