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  1. Rhizophoraceae Pers.

    1. This family is accepted.


Rhizophoraceae, John Lewis. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1956

Shrubs and trees
Leaves simple, usually opposite and persistent; stipules interpetiolar, caducous or absent
Flowers usually bisexual (rarely monoecious) regular, axillary, solitary to numerous in dichotomous cymes, racemes of spikes or fascicles
Calyx connate, 4–15-partite, valvate in aestivation, persistent
Petals equalling calyx-lobes in number, distinct, often clawed, sometimes fleshy or folded, frequently divided above
Stamens perigynous or epigynous, 2–4 times as many as the calyx-lobes, usually in one whorl, sometimes in pairs opposite the petals, variously inserted in relation to the disc if present; filaments sometimes very short; anthers introrse, characteristically 4-celled and dehiscing longitudinally (with numerous pollen sacs, dehiscing irregularly in Rhizophora)
Ovary syncarpous, superior to inferior, (1–) 2–4 (–5)-celled; placentae axile, each with usually 2 pendulous anatropous ovules (1 in >i>Anisophyllea); stigma usually divided
Fruit a berry (rarely dehiscent), rarely a drupe or a dry septicidally dehiscent 2–4-celled capsule
Seeds usually albuminous (not in >i>Anisophyllea), sometimes arillate, often viviparous; embryo straight and often with green cotyledons

Rhlzophoraceae, Hutchinson and Dalziel. Flora of West Tropical Africa 1:1. 1954

Trees or shrubs, frequently on maritime shores; branches swollen at the nodes
Leaves opposite and stipulate, rarely alternate and exstipulate, leathery, simple; stipules interpetiolar, caducous
Flowers hermaphrodite, in axillary inflorescences
Calyx-tube adnate to the ovary or free; lobes 3–14, persistent, valvate
Petals usually small, often notched, bifid or laciniate, convolute or inflexed in bud
Stamens equal to or usually more than the petals in number, often in pairs opposite the petals on the edge or at the base of a perigynous disk; anthers 2–or many-celled
Ovary mostly inferior, 2–6-celled or 1-celled by suppression of the septa; style simple or rarely styles several; ovules 2 in each cell, rarely more, inserted towards the apex on the inner angle of the cell
Fruit mostly indehiscent, usually 1-seeded or the cells 1-seeded
Seeds with or without fleshy endosperm; cotyledons terete or connate

Prance, G.T. (2009). Neotropical Rhizophoraceae.


Trees or shrubs. Leaves simple , opposite or verticillate , petiolate , margins entire or serrate , glabrous or with unicellular, simple hairs; stipule small to large, interpetiolar , caducous or subpersistent. Inflorescence of dichotomous axillary cymes, racemes or fasciculate or flowers solitary. Flowers hermaphrodite , actinomorphic ; sepals 4-7, valvate ; petals 4-7 free , equal in number and alternate to sepals, valvate , often unguiculate, margins often fimbriate or laciniate ; stamens 8-40, inserted on margin of a lobed perigynous disc ; anthers introrse, longitudinally dehiscent , dorsifiexed; ovary superior or inferior, 2-4-locular with 2 anatropous ovules in each loculus; ovules anatropous, pendulous, placentation axial; style filiform , erect , stigma 2-4- lobed . Fruit a capsule or a coriaceous , viviparous drupe , endosperm present.

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • A pantropical family of 16 genera and about 120 species.
  • Three genera occur in the Neotropics.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Opposite toothed leaves in some species.
  • The viviparous drupe of Rhizophora L.
  • The fimbriate or laciniate petals of Cassipourea Aubl. and Sterigmapetalum Kuhlm.
  • Collecting veins occur in the leaves of some Cassipourea species.
Useful tips for generic identification

Key to genera of Neotropical Rhizophoraceae

1. Ovary inferior; fruit a viviparous drupe; plants with stiltroots... Rhizophora
1. Ovary superior; fruit a capsule, plants without stiltroots... 2

2. Flowers hermaphrodite; leaves opposite; petals fimbriate or laciniate; inflorescence of solitary flowers or sessile clusters ... Cassipourea
2. Flowers dioecious; leaves verticellate; petals laciniate; inflorescence a corymobose panicle with long peduncle... Sterigmapetalum

General Description
Number of genera


  • Rhizophora
  • Cassipourea
  • Sterigmapetalum
General notes
  • The genera Anisophyllea R.Br. ex Sabine and Polygonanthus Ducke have often been placed in this family, but they are now considered to be in a separate family, the Anisophylleaceae, which belongs in the Cucurbitales.
  • Native to the Neotropics, but Rhizophora and Cassipourea also occur in the Old World.
Notes on delimitation
  • Previously usually associated with the Myrtales or with the Celastraceae and Elaeocarpaceae.
  • The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group clearly places this family in the Malpighiales near to the Erythroxylaceae.
Important literature

Prance, G.T. and Silva, M.F. 1975. Revisão taxonômica das espécies amazônicas de Rhizophoraceae. Acta Amazonica 5 (1): 5-22.

Prance, G.T.  2001. Rhizophoraceae. Flora of Nicaragua. Monographs in Systematic Botany 85, 3: 2200-2201.


Rhizophoraceae, A. R. Torre and A. E. Gonçalves. Flora Zambesiaca 4. 1978

Monoecious trees, shrubs or, rarely, undershrubs; young branches glabrous or glabrescent with age
Leaves simple, petiolate, usually isomorphic, decussate (very rarely 3(4)-nate), with interpetiolar and caducous stipules, or rarely dimorphic, alternate, without stipules (Anisophyllea); nervation generally pinnate, rarely curvinerved and with 1–2 intramarginal nerves (Anisophyllea)
Inflorescences simple or branched, axillary or, rarely, supra-axillary, of cymes (lax or condensed and clustered), racemes, panicles, fascicles or spikes, rarely a solitary flower
Flowers usually bisexual, rarely unisexual or polygamous, actinomorphic, with a pair of ± connate bracteoles, rarely ebracteolate
Calyx gamosepalous, usually ± adnate to the ovary, persistent in fruit; calyx-lobes (3)4–5(7) or 8–15 (Bruguiera), valvate
Petals as many as the calyx-lobes and alternating with them, free, often clawed, divided above to rarely entire, usually fleshy and conduplicate, caducous or rarely persistent
Disk fleshy, annular or ± cup-shaped, crenate, flat or lobed, rarely absent
Stamens usually twice as many as the petals, sometimes ¥ (indeterminate number), usually in 1 whorl, free, epipetalous or adnate to the calyx-tube, variously inserted in relation to the disk, when present; filaments usually subulate to ± filiform, sometimes very short; anthers 4-locular and dehiscing longitudinally or, rarely, multilocular and dehiscing by a large ventral valve (Rhizophora), dorsifixed, introrse
Ovary syncarpous, (l)2–4(5)-locular, inferior to superior; placentae axile, each with usually 2 (1 in Anisophyllea) pendulous, anatropous ovules; style usually single or 4–5(8) (Anisophylle), ± persistent, with entire or ± lobed stigmas
Fruit a berry, a drupe (Anisophyllea) or a dry, septicidally dehiscent, 2–4-loculed capsule (Cassipourea)
Seeds 1 or more, sometimes arillate (Cassipourea), often viviparous (mangrove species); embryo straight or curved and often with green cotyledons; endosperm present or rarely absent (Anisophylled)


Accepted Genera

Other Data

Rhizophoraceae Pers. appears in other Kew resources:


First published in Syn. Pl. [Persoon] 2: 2. 1806 [Nov 1806] (Rhizophorea resp. Rhizophoreae) (1806)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)


Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Flora of West Tropical Africa
Flora of West Tropical Africa

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics.