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Most members of this small family are found in Mediterranean-climate regions of Europe, Africa and North America. One genus, Reseda, is introduced in areas with a similar climate in Australia, often occurring as roadside weeds or in disturbed areas.

Characteristic features of the family Resedaceae in Australia include:

  • small, shrubby herbs with alternate or rosetted leaves
  • flowers small, greenish or cream, zygomorphic, borne in terminal, elongate racemes
  • sepals and petals each 4-6, the latter usually clawed and two- or three-lobed
  • stamens numerous and clustered on one side of the flower
  • ovary superior, from an early stage open at its apex, surrounded by a nectar-disc, developing into a capsule


Annual, biennial or rarely perennial terrestrial herbs. Perennating by taproots or crowns. Internal secretions not obvious, or of coloured sap. Plants glabrous, or with simple, non-glandular, unicellular hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral; cauline, all or mostly basal, or both basal and cauline, petiolate, subsessile or sessile. Stipules apparently absent, or present and distinct and free from petiole, gland-like, persistent; stipellae apparently absent. Lamina simple, or apparently once compound, ternate, imparipinnate, symmetric, pinnatifid or pinnatisect; lamina/segments filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate, ovate, elliptic, oblanceolate or obovate; base attenuate, lobed or auriculate; margins entire, undulate; one-veined, or the venation pinnate, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation not reticulate; surfaces not punctate; herbaceous. All the flowers bisexual. Inflorescences terminal, consisting of racemes. Bracts present. Pollination by insects. Flowers odourless or fragrant, stalked. Floral disc present; nectaries present on the disc. Free hypanthium present, or apparently absent. Perianth of 2 dissimilar whorls. Calyx regular or irregular; segments free, with 46 sepals, imbricate or valvate in bud, herbaceous. Corolla irregular; segments free, with 35 petals, alternating with the sepals, valvate in bud; corolla 1-lipped, white, cream or yellow, without contrasting markings, membranous; claws present; lobes trifid, trilobed or more divided; base with wings or other appendages. Fertile stamens 1050, not clearly correlated with the sepals, free of the corolla, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Anthers basifixed, versatile, opening inwards by longitudinal slits, 2-celled. Ovary superior, stalked or sessile. Carpels 34, fused, incompletely closed; ovary with 1 locule. Style branching from the base, or absent, with the stigma ±sessile. Ovules ±numerous, stalked; placentation parietal. Fruit a dry dehiscent valvular capsule; the perianth on the maturing fruit deciduous or dry and persistent. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, reticulate, rugose or granulate, brown, grey or black, glossy or dull. Seeds ±numerous per fruit. Aril present or absent. Cotyledons 2. Embryo 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 Resedaceae has been published in:
Flora of Australia 8: 359-361.

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

* = all species introduced


Reseda luteola (flowers)
Photo: S.Jacobs S.Jacobs 

Reseda sp. (flowers)
Photo: S.Jacobs S.Jacobs