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  • Hamamelidaceae R.Br.

This family is accepted.


Every, J.L.R. (2009). Neotropical Hamamelidaceae.


Trees or shrubs, evergreen , indumentum of mostly sclerified stellate or tufted trichomes. Leaves alternate , distichous , simple , petiolate , margins entire ; venation pinnate , campylodromous , secondary veins terminating in the teeth or three-veined at base (Matudaea Lundell); stipules small, deciduous , distinct, scarious , borne on stem adjacent to petiole . Inflorescences terminal and axillary , dense spherical heads or racemes of unisexual rudimentary flowers. Flowers small, hermaphroditic, unisexual or andromonoecious; sepals absent or rarely 5; petals absent; stamens 2-numerous often with prolonged connective, anthers basifixed, covered by stellate trichomes, mostly dehiscing by valves or by a longitudinal slit; ovary inferior, partially inferior or superior Matudaea, carpels 2, syncarpous, often free at apex , bi-locular, styles 2, stigma 2, decurrent . Fruit woody , ovoid (stalked and sessile in same infructescence ) capsular, often aggregate, exocarps leathery, endocarp bony. Seeds one per carpel , dispersed by ballistic ejection, hard and black or brown, smooth, resemble pine nuts when dry.

General Description
Notes on delimitation
  • Placed in the Saxifragales, closely related to Daphniphylaceae and Cercidiphyllaceae (APG2, 2003).
  • Forms an order along with the Neotropical Crassulaceae, Grossulariaceae, and Saxifragaceae, plus Iteaceae and Pterostemonaceae.
  • Considered to be part of the woody clade along with the Neotropical Altingiaceae and Haloragaceaesensu lato (expanded to include Tetracarpaceae, Penthoraceae and Aphanopetalum Endl.) plus the Asian, Cercidiphyllaceae and Daphniphyllaceae. (Jian et al 2008).
Number of genera
  • Two: Matudaea and  Molinadendron.
  • Native.
Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Mexico to Colombia.
  • Cool upland regions, wet mixed forest.
  • Molinadendron Endress (includes Neotropical Distylium Sieb. & Zucc.) with three Neotropical species: M. guatemalense (Radlk. ex Harms) P.K. Endress, M. hondurense (Standl.) P.K. Endress and M. sinaloense (Standl. & Gentry) P.K. Endress distributed from Costa Rica to Mexico (Sinaloa).
  • Matudaea Lundell with two species: M. trinerva Lundell and M. hirsuta Lundell occurring in Honduras and through to Central Mexico.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Evergreen plants with stellateindumentum.
  • Leaves alternatedistichous, stipulate, petiolate, with entire margins.
  • Compacted inflorescence of small, rudimentary flowers, perianth absent, anthers basifixed, gynoecium 2-merous.
  • Fruit a woodycapsule or often aggregate of several flowers.
  • Seeds dispersed by ballistic ejection.
Key differences from similar families
  • Altingiaceae (Hamamelidaceae p.p.) represented in the Neotropics by Liquidamberstyraciflua L. are deciduous with leaves spirally arranged and contain resin canals in their bark.
Notable genera and distinguishing features

Molinadendron Endress:

  • Evergreen trees or shrubs.
  • Branches with 1-2 prophylls.
  • Conspicuous galls sometimes present.
  • Petals absent.
  • Carpels with 1 ovule.
  • Stigmas (2), large and decurrent.

Matudaea Lundell:

  • Evergreen trees.
  • Multicellular glandular hairs in the blade margin of primary leaves, stipules and bracts.
  • Branches with 2 prophylls.
  • Leaves triplinerved.
  • Inflorescences condensed panicles or botryoids (each axis terminated by a flower).
  • Flowers bisexual.
  • Sepals absent.
  • Petals absent.
  • 2 fused bracts subtend the individual flower.
  • Stamens 12-24, polyandrous.
  • Anthers opening by 2 valves.
  • Ovarysuperior.
  • Carpels with 1 ovule.
  • Large, decurrentstigma.
Important literature

APG II, 2003. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 141(4): 399-436.

Endress, P. K. 1993. Hamamelidaceae. In: Kubitzki, K., Fohwer, J. G., and Bittrich, V.(eds) Families and genera of vascular plants. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. pp322-331. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Jian, S. Soltis, P. S., Gitzendanner, M. A., Moore, M. J., Li, R., Hendry, T. A., Qiu, Y. L. Dhingra, A., Bell, C. D., & Douglas E. Soltis, D. E. 2008. Resolving an ancient, rapid radiation in Saxifragales. Systematic Biology. 57(1): 38-57.

Judd, W. S., Campbell, C. S., Kellogg, E. A., Stevens, P. F., Donoghue, M. J. 2008. Plant Systematics: a phylogenetic approach 3rd ed. pp 342-344. Sinauer Associates, Massachusetts.

Maas, P.J.M. & Westra, L.Y. Th. 2005. Neotropical Plant Families. 3rd ed., p.147. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell.

Mabberley, D. J. 2008. Mabberley's Plant-book. 3rd ed. p. 388. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Standley, P. C. & Steyermark, J. A. 1946. Flora of Guatemala Fieldiana, Bot. 24(4): 426-430.

Stevens, P.F. 2008. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 9 onwards.

Stevenson, D.W. 2004. Hamamelidaceae. In: Smith, N., Mori, S.A., Henderson, A., Stevenson, D.W. and Heald, S.V. (eds). Flowering Plants of the Neotropics. pp.179-180. The New York Botanical Garden, Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Watson, L. & Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval. Version 3rd March 2009.


Hamamelidaceae, B. Verdcourt. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1971

Evergreen or deciduous trees or shrubs, often with stellate indumentum
Leaves alternate or less often opposite, simple, but often pinnatifid or palmatilobed, entire or serrate (the teeth sometimes glandular), usually stipulate; stipules mostly paired, persistent or more usually deciduous
Inflorescences terminal or axillary, racemose, often spicate or capitate, sometimes so densely packed that the flowers are almost joined; bracts and bracteoles often present, the former sometimes forming a coloured involucre
Flowers small to large, regular or rarely irregular, hermaphrodite or unisexual, hypogynous to perigynous, rarely without a perianth
Calyx-tube variously shaped, usually ± adnate to the ovary; lobes (3–)5(–7), imbricate or valvate
Petals 4–5 or more, sometimes absent in ? flowers, free, imbricate or valvate, rarely circinate, mostly linear-spathulate or obovate
Stamens 4–5(–25), rarely fewer, as many as and alternating with the petals, arranged in one series; staminodes sometimes present; filaments free, sometimes thickened and shorter than the anthers; anthers 2-thecous, opening lengthwise or by valves, the connective sometimes projecting to form a beak
Disc usually absent, when present annular or composed of separate glands
Ovary inferior, half-inferior or rarely superior, (l–)2(–3)-locular, the carpels sometimes free at the apex; ovules 1 or more in each cell, apical or anatropous, pendulous; placentation axile; styles 2, subulate, usually free, often recurved, sometimes persistent, the stigmas terminal or lateral
Fruit a woody loculicidal or septicidal capsule, with leathery exocarp and bony endocarp, often appearing apically 4-valved
Seeds 1–many, sometimes winged, with thin endosperm; embryo straight


Hamamelidaceae, E. J. Mendes and M. P. Vidigal. Flora Zambesiaca 4. 1978

Trees and shrubs, often with stellate indumentum
Leaves alternate or less often opposite, deciduous or persistent, simple, entire or not, pinnately or palmately nerved; stipules mostly paired, often deciduous
Inflorescences racemose, often spicate or capitate, sometimes very dense, terminal or axillary; bracts and bracteoles often present
Flowers bisexual or unisexual, actinomorphic or rarely zygomorphic, rarely without a perianth
Calyx-tube ± adnate to the base of the gynoecium; calyx-lobes 4–5 or more, imbricate or valvate
Petals 4–5 or more, sometimes absent in female flowers, free, imbricate or valvate, rarely circinnate
Stamens 1-seriate, usually as many as and alternating with the petals, rarely fewer or indefinite, perigynous; filaments free; anthers 2-locular, opening lengthwise by slits or by valves; the connective often produced; staminodes sometimes present, alternating with the stamens
Disk absent or annular or of separate glands
Ovary inferior or nearly so, rarely sub-superior, (l)2(3)-carpellary and -locular; carpels often free at the apex; styles subulate, free, often recurved and persistent; stigmas terminal or lateral; ovules 1-many in each loculus, axillary, pendulous
Fruit a woody capsule, loculicidal or septicidal
Seeds mostly 1 per loculus, sometimes winged; endosperm thin; embryo straight

Hamamelidaceae R.Br. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Narr. Journey China 374. 1818 [15 Aug 1818] (1818)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

Flora Zambesiaca
Flora Zambesiaca

Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. 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.