Olacaceae s. str. R. Br.

Genera Included: Dulacia Sleumer, Olax L., and Ptychopetalum Benth.

Habit: Terrestrial, evergreen trees and shrubs, rarely lianas.

Parasitism: root hemiparasites, well documented for Olax (see References). 

Roots: haustorial.  Anatomy of the haustorium of Olax phyllanthii described by Pate et al. (1990).

Stem: without stipules, young branches often zig-zag, longitudinally striate.  Stems sometimes 4-sided and winged in Olax, terete in Ptychopetalum

Leaves:  Simple, alternate or alternate-distichous, rarely decussate, glabrous, margin entire. Primary venation pinnate, secondary venation brochidodromous, tertiary venation reticulate, quarternary venation (aerolation) meshes polygonal.  

Leaf anatomy: leaf unicellular hairs absent or present; epidermal cells and guard cells not lignified;  lumina of guard cells narrow; cuticular ledges of guard cells inconsipuous and thick;  paracytic stomata absent or present; cyclocytic and anisocytic stomata absent; schizogenous cavities in leaf absent;  laticiferous channel in leaf absent;  druses in epidermal cells absent;  silicified walls of mesophyll and epidermal cells present;  mesophyll sclereids absent;  leaf cystoliths absent; petiole and median vein slerenchyma fibers and astroslereids absent;  vascularization of the nodes unilacunar or trilacunar; basal and distal petiole vascularization a simple bundle; median vein vascularization a simple bundle.

Wood anatomy: vessel grouping solitary or grouped in multiples;  perforation plate type scalariform; vessel member length over 900 µm;  intervascular pits alternate; vascular tracheids assoc. w/ vessels present; fiber tracheids and libriform fibers present; axillary parenchyma abundant;  axial parenchyma strand width less than 7 cells; ray type heterocellular, one row of erect cells; ray height short, below 1000 µm; wood cystoliths absent; silica bodies in ray cells present.

Inflorescence: axillary, cymose racemes, axis zig-zag (Dulacia, Olax); pedicels subtended by caducous bracts that are usually small but sometimes persist and become foliose. 

Plant Sex: flowers generally bisexual (rarely unisexual in Olax).

Flowers: buds oval in shape; flowers 5-6 merous.

Fruit: drupes, surrounded by accrescent calyx in Dulacia and some Olax; endocarp coriaceous or crustaceous. 

Seed: with copious oily endosperm, also starch present (Dulacia); embryo tiny.

Chromosomes: Chromosome numbers have been reported for Olax nana (Khosla, 1978; Mehra, 1976): n = 12, 24 and Olax hypoleuca (Carr & McPherson, 1986) with the same numbers.

Alternate Family Names: none.


SIUC / College of Science / Parasitic Plant Connection / Olacaceae / Description
URL: http://www.parasiticplants.siu.edu/Olacaceae/description.html
Last updated: 19-Oct-10 / dln