Loganiaceae R.Br. ex Mart.

First published in Nov. Gen. Sp. Pl. (Martius) 2(2): 133. 1827 [Jan-Jun 1827] , as 'Loganeae' (1827)nom. cons.
This family is accepted


Zappi, D. (2009). Neotropical Loganiaceae.


Herbs, climbers , lianas, shrubs, trees. Leaves opposite, sometimes whorled , entire , linked by interpetiolary relatively small stipules, tendrils and spines sometimes present. Inflorescences cymose, terminal or axillary , rarely flowers solitary (Gelsemium Juss.), bracts rarely present, scamose and in several series in Antonia Pohl.Flowers perfect, often heterostylic; calyx fused or free to the base, lobes generally acute ; corolla gamopetalous, aestivation valvar or imbricate , symmetry radial, small, to 8 cm long, white, cream, yellow, lilac, pink or magenta, glabrous to hairy outside or bearded within (Strychnos L.), stamens alternate  with the corolla -lobes, stigma simple or bifid, ovary generally bilocular , sometimes with 1 or 5 loci. Fruits capsular or berry -like; seeds 1-numerous, rounded , flat, angled or winged .

Distribution in the Neotropics

Throughout the Neotropics, not very extensive in dryland vegetation:

  • Antonia ovata Pohl (monotypic genus from Eastern Brazil to the Amazon basin).
  • Bonyunia M.R.Schomb. (Amazonian).
  • Gelsemium (Pantropical with two species in Southern USA reaching Central America).
  • Mitreola L. (Neotropical weed).
  • Mostuea (mostly Paleotropical, with one species in Southeastern Brazil and another in the Guianas).
  • Spigelia L.(Neotropical, very diverse in Eastern Brazil).
  • Strychnos
  • (Pantropical but very extensive in the Amazon basin).
Key differences from similar families
  • Superiorovary sets it apart from Rubiaceae and Campanulaceae.
  • Corollavalvate to imbricate (rather than contorted) separates it from Gentianaceae.
  • Lack of latex separates it from Apocynaceae.
Useful tips for generic identification
  • Type of inflorescence, type of fruit and habit would help to place the specimen within a genus.
Notable genera and distinguishing features
  • Strychnos (large woody lianas with tendrils and sometimes spines, trinerveous leaves and berries).
  • Spigelia (herbs to subshrubs with scorpioid inflorescences, flowers often colourful and showy, sometimes leaves very reduced or lacking).
  • Antonia (trees with many series of bracts subtending each flower, resembling Asteraceae).
  • Gelsemium (climbers with solitary flowers).
Other important characters
  • Internal phloem.
  • Cymose inflorescences sometimes helicoid or scorpioid.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Simple, opposite (rarely whorled) leaves with entire margin.
  • Interpetiolar and sometimes intrapetiolar stipules.
  • Corolla gamopetalous, radial symmetry.
  • Aestivationvalvate or imbricate.
  • Superiorovary.
General Description
Number of genera
  • 20 genera and over 700 species worldwide, of which approximately 7 genera and 400 species are Neotropical.
  • Cultivated species of Gelsemium have showy flowers.
  • Mitreola is a worldwide weed.
  • Spigelia anthelmia L. is cultivated as a medicinal plant.
  • Species of Spigelia in Eastern Brazil have endemic distribution.
General notes
  • A basal group in relation to Rubiaceae, Apocynaceae and Gentianaceae, it is not an easy family to characterize and has been divided into several different families over the years.
Notes on delimitation
  • Includes Strychnos (Strychnaceae) and Gelsemium and Mostuea Didr. (Gelsemiaceae); excludes Potalia Aubl. (Potaliaceae or Gentianaceae), Buddleja L. (Buddlejaceae or Scrophulariaceae).
Important literature

Progel, A. 1868. Loganiaceae. In C.A.F. Martius (ed.) Flora brasiliensis 6(1): 251-300.

Zappi, D. 1989. Flora da Serra do Cipó, Minas Gerais: Loganiaceae. Bol. Bot. Univ. São Paulo 11: 85-97.

Zappi, D. 2005. Loganiaceae. In Wanderley, M.G.L., Shepherd, G.J., Mehlem, T.S. & Giulietti, A.M. (eds.) Flora Fanerogâmica do Estado de São Paulo 4: 261-271.

Zappi, D. 2006. Flora da Reserva Ducke, Amazonas, Brasil: Loganiaceae. Rodriguésia 57(2): 193-204.


Timothy M. A. Utteridge and Laura V. S. Jennings (2022). Trees of New Guinea. Kew Publishing. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Its distribution is pantropical with a centre of diversity in Australia and New Caledonia
Morphology General Habit
Some species of Strychnos can be trees, especially in Africa, but all collections of the New Guinea taxa are described climbers or lianas.
Annual and perennial herbs, climbers, epiphytes, shrubs and trees.
Branch tendrils and spines may be present (Strychnos). Stipules present, interpetiolar or sometimes intrapetiolar, may be inconspicuous. Leaves simple, opposite, rarely whorled, entire, venation pinnate, 3–5-nerved from the base (Strychnos) or curvinerved. Colleters frequently present in leaf axils. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, cymose. Flowers 4–5-merous, usually bisexual, rarely unisexual; calyx lobes acute, fused at the base or free; corolla tubular with 4–5 lobes; stamens the same number as petals, alternating with them, inserted on the corolla tube, usually included; ovary superior, rarely semi-inferior, placentation axile, frequently peltate, ovules 1–many, style 1–2. Fruit superior, capsular, berry-like or drupaceous. Seeds 1–many, endosperm well developed, embryo straight with small cotyledons. Loganiaceae is not an easy family to define and is often confused with Rubiaceae (especially Geniostoma), from which it can be distinguished by its superior ovary

Loganiaceae, A. J. M. Leeuwenberg. Flora Zambesiaca 7:1. 1983

Morphology General Habit
Woody or less often herbaceous plants
Morphology Leaves
Leaves mostly opposite, less often ternate (often in Nuxia, sometimes in Strychnos), occasionally quaternate (sometimes in Nuxia), or sometimes subopposite or alternate (sometimes in Buddlejeae, especially in Buddleja and Nuxia)
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules true or false, present, reduced to lines connecting the petiole bases, or absent; in some cases leaves connate–perfoliate (in some Buddleja spp. with opposite leaves); lamina simple, variously shaped, pinnately veined, entire, incised, or less often lobed; sometimes with 1–3 pairs of basal secondary veins larger and curved along the margin, rendering the leaves seemingly 3–7–veined (most Strychnos spp.)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence usually thyrsoid or otherwise cymose, or 1–flowered, rarely a raceme (Gomphostigma)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers regular, mostly hermaphrodite, homo– or (in Mostuea) heterostylous, mostly 4– or 5–merous (corolla and androecium 8–16–merous in Anthocleista), mostly actinomorphic but then often with subequal or unequal sepals, less often subactinomorphic or zygomorphic
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals usually green, free or united, usually persistent, imbricate, valvate, or apert in bud
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla usually coloured, sympetalous, variously shaped; lobes valvate, imbricate, or contorted in bud
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens as many as corolla lobes and alternating with them or sometimes less; filaments free from each other, from much shorter to much longer than the anthers; anthers basifix, often versatile; cells 2 or (outside FZ area) 4, discrete or confluent at the apex, parallel or divergent at the base, dehiscent throughout by a longitudinal slit
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Pistil simple; ovary superior or sometimes slightly inferior, mostly 2–celled, but sometimes 1–, or 4–celled; style simple, terminal, persistent or ; stigma simple or sometimes branched; ovules 2–many, on an axile placenta attached to the septum or in a unicellular ovary to the bottom (Strychnos spinosa) or parietal
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a capsule or a berry, 1–many–seeded
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds variously shaped, small or large, sometimes winged, with fleshy, starchy, or horny (Mostuea, Strychnos) endosperm surrounding a rather small or large straight embryo

Loganiaceae, C.F.A. Onochie & A.J.M. Leeuwenberg. Flora of West Tropical Africa 2. 1963

Morphology General Habit
Mostly trees and shrubs; stem usually woody
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite, simple; stipules present or absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers hermaphrodite, usually actinomorphic, paniculate, corymbose or in globose heads
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx-lobes valvate or imbricate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla tubular, lobes 4-16, contorted, imbricate or valvate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens epipetalous, as many as the corolla-lobes and alternate with them, or rarely reduced to 1; anthers 2-celled, opening lengthwise
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Ovary superior, 2-4-celled; style single; ovules several to numerous, rarely solitary, axile or ascending from the base of each cell
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a capsule, berry or drupe
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds sometimes winged; embryo straight, in the middle of fleshy or cartilaginous endosperm

Loganiaceae, E. A. Bruce and J. Lewis. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1960

Morphology General Habit
Trees or shrubs (in our area; also herbs elsewhere) with opposite simple leaves; stipules interpetiolar, sometimes reduced to a mere line; latex absent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences usually cymose and moderately branched but sometimes of numerous cymules racemosely arranged
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers regular, usually hermaphrodite, sometimes heterostylous, usually 4–5-merous (corolla-lobes up to 20 in Anthocleista)
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx shortly joined, ± campanulate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla with a short or long tube; lobes imbricate or valvate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens equal in number to and alternate with the corolla-lobes (in our area; more or less numerous elsewhere), the filaments often short
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Nectaries
Disc absent or slight
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Ovary superior or half-inferior, 2 (rarely 1 or 4)-locular; style 1, rarely divided above; stigmas 1, 2 or 4; ovules usually numerous, sometimes few (rarely 1) on axil placentas, anatropous or amphitropous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a usually septicidally dehiscent capsule (loculicidally dehiscent in >i>Mostuea), berry or drupe
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds various, sometimes flattened or winged; endosperm present; embryo usually straight; radicle usually inferior


  • Flora Zambesiaca

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  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
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  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Flora of West Tropical Africa
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  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2023. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2022 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Neotropikey

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

    • Trees of New Guinea
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