home browse overview


A largely tropical family, in Australia concentrated in Queensland but extending into Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Most species grow in forest, but Aegiceras is a mangrove plant.

Characteristic features of the family Myrsinaceae in Australia include:

  • trees or shrubs with alternate, exstipulate leaves, usually leathery, entire, and often dotted (at least when dry) with coloured glands
  • flowers small, radially symmetric, solitary in leaf axils or in umbels or panicles
  • sepals 4-5, gland dotted and usually fused at the base, petals 4-5, usually fused
  • stamens adjacent and attached to petals, sometimes with a whorl of staminodes; ovary usually superior with a simple style
  • fruit fleshy


Evergreen trees, or shrubs, or woody or rarely perennial herbaceous vines climbing by twining or scrambling stems. Internal secretions absent or resinous. Plants glabrous, or with simple, clavate, capitate or vesicular, glandular or non-glandular, unicellular hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral, petiolate or subsessile. Stipules absent. Lamina simple, symmetric or conspicuously asymmetric, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, oblanceolate, obovate or oblong; base cuneate, attenuate, rounded, oblique or rarely cordate; margins entire, crenate, dentate or serrate or spiny, ±flat, revolute, recurved or undulate; venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate or not; surfaces usually dark- or pellucid-punctate; herbaceous or leathery. Male and female flowers occurring on separate plants, or with all the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal, axillary, cauliflorous or ramiflorous, consisting of glomerules, racemes, panicles, corymbs or umbels. Bracts present. Pollination by insects. Flowers odourless or fragrant, sessile or stalked. Floral disc absent; nectaries absent. Perianth regular, of 2 dissimilar whorls. Calyx segments free or fused, with 4–5 (–6) sepals or lobes, imbricate or valvate in bud; calyx cup-shaped or tubular, herbaceous. Corolla segments fused, with 4–5 (–6) lobes, alternating with the sepals or calyx lobes, imbricate in bud; corolla wheel-shaped, cup-shaped or tubular, white, cream, yellow, greenish or pink, without contrasting markings, or streaked, spotted, etc, papery or succulent; claws absent; lobes ±entire. Fertile stamens 4–6, alternating with the sepals or calyx lobes, at least partly fused to the corolla, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other or fused by their filaments into an open or closed tube, all ±equal. Staminodes present. Anthers dorsifixed or basifixed, versatile or not versatile, opening inwards by pores or by longitudinal slits, 2-celled; appendages absent or apical. Ovary superior and sessile, or part-inferior. Carpels 3–5 (–6), fused; ovary with 1 locule. Style terminal, single and unbranched, or absent with the stigma ±sessile on the ovary and truncate, capitate or filiform-penicillate. Ovules 1–numerous, sessile; placentation free-central. Fruit a fleshy, indehiscent drupe; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous or dry and persistent. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, white, cream, red, pink, magenta, purple, violet, blue, green, brown or black, without contrasting markings, or conspicuously patterned, dull. Seeds 1–numerous per fruit. Aril absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight or round or shapeless.
(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 Myrisinaceae has not yet been published in the Flora of Australia. It will appear in Volume 10.

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


Aegiceras corniculatum (flowers and fruit)
Photo: M.Fagg © M.Fagg 

Ardisia bakeri (flowers)
Photo: G.Leiper © G.Leiper 

Ardisia bakeri (fruits)
Photo: G.Leiper © G.Leiper 

Ardisia bifaria (seedling)
Photo: H.Nicholson © H. & N. Nicholson