Menispermaceae Juss.

First published in Gen. Pl. [Jussieu] 284. 1789 [4 Aug 1789] (1789)nom. cons.
This family is accepted

Descriptions

Menispermaceae, G. Troupin. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1956

Morphology General Habit
Twining or rarely erect shrubs or small trees, dioecious, with the wood in cross-section showing broad medullary rays
Morphology Leaves
Leaves petiolate, sometimes peltate, without stipules, usually simple, entire or lobed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences various, many-flowered, rarely the flowers solitary or geminate, axillary or borne on the leafless wood
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers ?: sepals 3–12 or more, rarely 1, free or slightly connate, imbricate or valvate; petals 1–6 or absent, free or connate, usually imbricate; stamens 3–6 or indefinite, rarely 2, free or variously united Flowers small, unisexual, regular, rarely slightly irregular Flowers ?: sepals and petals generally as in ? flowers, sometimes not so numerous; staminodes absent or present; carpels 3–6 or more, rarely 1, free; ovules 2, soon reduced to 1 by abortion, attached to the ventral suture
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruiting carpels drupaceous, with the scar of the style subterminal or near the base by excentric growth; exocarp membranaceous or subcoriaceous, mesocarp more or less pulpy, endocarp often chartaceous or bony, rugose, tuberculate or ribbed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed often curved and horseshoe-shaped, with uniform or ruminate endosperm, or without endosperm
[FTEA]

Menispermaceae, G. Troupin. Flora Zambesiaca 1:1. 1960

Morphology General Habit
Twining or rarely erect shrubs or small trees, dioecious
Morphology General Wood
Wood in cross-section showing broad medullary rays
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate, petiolate, exstipulate, sometimes peltate, without stipules, usually simple, entire or lobed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence various, many-flowered, the flowers rarely solitary or geminate, axillary or borne on the leafless wood
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers small, actinomorphic, rarely slightly irregular Female flowers: sepals and petals generally as in male flowers, sometimes not so numerous; staminodes present or absent; carpels 3–6 or more, rarely 1, free; ovules 2, soon reduced to 1 by abortion, attached to the ventral suture Male flowers: sepals 3–12 or more, rarely 1, free or slightly connate, imbricate or valvate; petals 1–6 or absent, free or connate, usually imbricate; stamens 3–6 or indefinite, rarely 2, free or variously united
sex Male
Male flowers: sepals 3–12 or more, rarely 1, free or slightly connate, imbricate or valvate; petals 1–6 or absent, free or connate, usually imbricate; stamens 3–6 or indefinite, rarely 2, free or variously united
sex Female
Female flowers: sepals and petals generally as in male flowers, sometimes not so numerous; staminodes present or absent; carpels 3–6 or more, rarely 1, free; ovules 2, soon reduced to 1 by abortion, attached to the ventral suture
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruiting carpels drupaceous, with the scar of the style subterminal or near the base by excentric growth; exocarp membranous or subcoriaceous, mesocarp more or less pulpy, endocarp often chartaceous or bony, rugose, tuberculate or ribbed and with the septum of the condyle,2 if any, perforated or not
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds often curved and horseshoe-shaped, with uniform or ruminate endosperm, or without endosperm
[FZ]

George R. Proctor (2012). Flora of the Cayman Isands (Second Edition). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Morphology General Habit
Dioecious trees, shrubs, or vines with alternate entire leaves; stipules lacking
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers minute and inconspicuous, in axillary bracteate panicles
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals and petals various in number in dimerous or trimerous whorls, or sometimes solitary
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens of male flowers 4 or 6; staminodes in female flowers 6 or lacking; filaments free or united into a column
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Carpels
Carpels 3 or 1, free, each with a single ovule
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a drupelet, often succulent; seeds horseshoe-shaped, with large embryo and scanty endosperm.
Distribution
A chiefly tropical family with about 65 genera and 400 species.
[Cayman]

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

Morphology General Habit
Twining, or rarely erect shrubs or small trees, with the wood in cross-section showing broad medullary rays
Morphology Leaves
Leaves petiolate, sometimes peltate, alternate, exstipulate, usually simple, rarely trifoliolate, or palmately lobed and nerved
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences cymose, paniculate, racemose, capitulate, fasciculate, or rarely the flowers solitary or geminate, axillary or borne on the leafless wood
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers small, inconspicuously coloured, unisexual, dioecious, actinomorphic, rarely slightly zygomorphic Male flowers: sepals 3–12 or more, rarely 1, generally in series, or slightly connate, imbricate or rarely valvate, the outer smaller; petals 1–6, usually in series, minute or absent, free, or rarely connate, usually imbricate; stamens 3–6 or indefinite, rarely 2, when few opposite the sepals, free or variously united; anthers short Female flowers: sepals and petals as in male flowers; staminodes present or absent; carpels 3–6 or more, rarely 1, free, sessile or stipitate; styles terminal or subterminal, rarely recurved; stigma terminal, entire or lobed; ovules 2, soon reduced to 1 by abortion, attached to the ventral suture
sex Male
Male flowers: sepals 3–12 or more, rarely 1, generally in series, or slightly connate, imbricate or rarely valvate, the outer smaller; petals 1–6, usually in series, minute or absent, free, or rarely connate, usually imbricate; stamens 3–6 or indefinite, rarely 2, when few opposite the sepals, free or variously united; anthers short
sex Female
Female flowers: sepals and petals as in male flowers; staminodes present or absent; carpels 3–6 or more, rarely 1, free, sessile or stipitate; styles terminal or subterminal, rarely recurved; stigma terminal, entire or lobed; ovules 2, soon reduced to 1 by abortion, attached to the ventral suture
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruiting carpels drupaceous, with the scar of the style subterminal or near the base by excentric growth, sessile or stipitate; exocarp membranous or subcoriaceous, mesocarp more or less pulpy, endocarp often chartaceous or bony, rugose, tuberculate or ribbed; seed often curved in the form of a horseshoe, with uniform or ruminate endosperm or without endosperm; embryo often curved, with a small radicle and flat or semi–terete cotyledons
[FWTA]

Milliken, W., Klitgard, B. and Baracat, A. (2009 onwards), Neotropikey - Interactive key and information resources for flowering plants of the Neotropics. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Morphology General Habit
Woody (sometimes herbaceous) vines, occasionally herbs, shrubs or trees
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits fleshy or non- fleshy drupe-like monocarps, sometimes aggregated, often with a bony or woody endocarp, single-seeded; seeds usually curved; endosperm ruminate, not ruminate or absent.
Distribution
Widely distributed throughout the Neotropics, particularly in the humid lowlands, although some genera (e.g. Cissampelos) also occur in arid areas. Native to the Neotropics.
Diagnostic
Key differences from similar families: In a sterile condition certain Menispermaceae may be confused with Cucurbitaceae (from which they differ in the lack of tendrils) or Dioscoreaceae (which never have apically flexed pulvinae and whose branchlets often have swollen nodes). They may also be confused with Aristolochiaceae (which also lack the apically flexed pulvinae and sometimes have leafy stipules), and possibly Sparattanthelium (Hernandiaceae), which differs in its ranalean odour and simplestem structure. The leaves of some lianas (e.g. Abuta spp.) may perhaps be confused with those of Loganiaceae (Strychnos), from which they differ in their alternate (rather than opposite) arrangement. Usually vines or lianas with a few exceptions: Abuta grandifolia (Mart.) Sandwith is a tree, and a few species such as Cissampelos ovalifolia DC. are herbaceous. Petiole often pulvinate at apex (and/or at base) and generally visibly flexed. Leaves commonly more or less sub-peltate (sometimes conspicuously so), sometimes drying blackish. Curved seed ('moonseed') often with ruminateendosperm and surrounded by bony, ornamented endocarp. Leaf venation usually palmate (though occasionally pinnate). Petals and sepals commonly in multiples of three (not Cissampelos). Cross-section of woody stems generally made up of concentric (often asymmetrical) rings of vessels with medullary rays. Wood often bitter to the taste, sometimes yellow or yellowish. Distinguishing characters (always present): Simplealternate leaves, though one species - Disciphania cujibensis (R. Knuth) Sandwith - palmately compound. Monocarpous one-seeded fruits. Unisexual flowers. [adapted from Gentry (1993)]   Habit: Herbaceous vines with solitary fruits - Cissampelos (though one species is a woody herb).   Fruits: Black or purple fleshy drupes - Odontocarya or Disciphania. Hard, red/orange/black monocarps - Abuta, Anomospermum and relatives. Hard, grey or tan-pubescent monocarps - Chondrodendron, Curarea and relatives [if 6 or more of these per flower - Chondrodendron or Sciadotenia ].   Petioles:  Pulvinately flexuous at base [sometimes also pulvinate at apex] - Odontocarya, Disciphania, Borismene.   Seeds: Endosperm not ruminate - Odontocarya, Disciphania, Borismene. Endosperm absent - Chondrodendron, Curarea, Cionomene, Sciadotenia, Hyperbaena. Endospermruminate - Telitoxicum, Abuta and Caryomene (seed U-shaped); Anomospermum, Orthomene (seed straight or J-shaped). Leaf margins: Dentate - Synandropus .
Note
Most species of this family contain powerful alkaloids with biochemical activity. Many are used in medicines (e.g. for stomach disorders, malaria). Several are also used in the preparation of arrow and dart poisons, including Curarea, Chondrodendron, Abuta, Telitoxicum.  Chondrodendron tomentosum Ruiz & Pav. is the original natural source of the alkaloid tubocurarine, used as a muscle relaxant in surgical procedures. Some Menispermaceae (e.g. Abuta grandifolia (Mart.) Sandwith) have edible fruits. Number of genera: Seventeen genera recorded in the Neotropics, including: Abuta Aubl. Anomospermum Miers Borismene Barneby Caryomene Barneby & Krukoff Chondrodendron Ruíz & Pavón Cionomene Krukoff Cissampelos L. Curarea Barneby & Krukoff Disciphania Eichler Elephantomene Barneby & Krukoff Hyperbaena Miers ex. Benth. Odontocarya Miers. Orthomene Barneby & Krukoff Sciadotenia Miers. Synandropus A.C. Sm. Telitoxicum Mold. Tinospora Miers. [introduced] Ungulipetalum Notes on delimitation: A clearly defined family situated within the Ranunculales, characterized by the presence of drupelets, a chondyle and large embryos (Ortiz et al., 2007). Placed by phylogenetic analyses close to the Berberidaceae, Ranunculaceae and Papaveraceae (Barneby & White, 2004).
[NTK]

Timothy Utteridge & Gemma Bramley (2020). The Kew Tropical Plant Families Identification Handbook, Second Edition. Kew Publishing Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Note
Vines with broad rays in the wood. Leaves alternate, simple, often peltate, venation usually palmate; petioles swollen top and bottom. Flowers unisexual, small. Fruit of several drupelets, often strongly curved.
Recognition
Characters of similar families: Annonaceae: venation pinnate, flowers usually larger and petals more colourful, monocarps not drupaceous, several flat seeds in each monocarp. Cucurbitaceae: tendrillate climbers, ovary inferior, fruit a berry. Dioscoreaceae: ovary inferior and usually winged, fruit a dry capsule. Piperaceae: stems with swollen nodes, inflorescence of very small flowers in a spike, perianth lacking. Vitaceae: climbers with tendrils, leaf margins dentate to lobed and rarely entire, fruit a single berry.
Morphology General Habit
Climbing or twining vines, rarely trees or shrubs; stems without spines; wood often with conspicuous rays
Morphology General Sap
Sap sometimes present
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules absent
Morphology Leaves
Leaves alternate, simple, sometimes peltate; margin usually entire, rarely dentate, sometimes palmately lobed, rarely trifoliolate; venation often palmate; petiole swollen at apex and base, sometimes leaving a discoid scar on the stem after abscission
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences axillary or cauliflorous, rarely terminal, often umbelliform cymes, compound umbels, or racemes, rarely a single flower
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers unisexual (plants dioecious), usually small, actinomorphic; sepals often in whorls of (2 or)3(or 4), rarely 1, free or rarely connate; petals usually 3–6 in 1 or 2 whorls, sometimes absent, free, rarely connate; stamens (2–)6–8(– many), filaments free or connate, stamens sometimes fused into synandrium; anthers dehiscing longitudinally or transversely, staminodes sometimes present in female flowers; carpels 1–6(–many), free, stigma lobed or divided, rarely entire, ovules 2 (reducing to 1 by abortion), pistillodes very small or absent in male flower
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit consisting of 1–6(–10) drupelets, straight or horseshoe-shaped; endocarp usually bony or woody, rugose to spiny, rarely smooth, sides usually with central smooth and sunken condyle
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed usually curved.
Distribution
A pantropical family of 70 genera and c. 450 species, extending into temperate north America and Asia; many small genera, largest groups are Tinospora, Cyclea, Stephania, and Odontocarya (all with c. 30 species).
Description Author
Timothy Utteridge
[KTROP-FIH]

Uses

Use
Members of this family often contain toxic alkaloids, and a number of S. American species provide ingredients for arrow-poisons used by Amerindian tribes. These complex poisons, which vary in composition according to the species used, are collectively known as curare.
[Cayman]

Sources

  • Flora Zambesiaca

    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Flora of West Tropical Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of the Cayman Islands

    • Flora of the Cayman Islands
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    • 'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2024. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 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.
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • The Kew Tropical Plant Families Identification Handbook

    • The Kew Tropical Plant Families Identification Handbook
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0