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  • Tovariaceae Pax

This family is accepted.
Tovaria pendula


Maas, P.J.M. & Maas-van de Kamer, H. (2012). Neotropical Tovariaceae.


Shrubs or herbs, with a penetrating smell.  Leaves alternate , trifoliolate ; stipules minute.  Inflorescences terminal and axillary , elongate racemes.  Flowers bisexual , actinomorphic ; sepals (6-)8(-9), free , soon falling; petals (6-)8(-9), free , shortly clawed, green to yellow; stamens (6-)8(-9), filaments sometimes hairy at the base, anthers dithecal, longitudinally dehiscent , basifixed; disc present; gynophore very short or absent; ovary superior , (4-)6(-8)-locular, style 1, very short or absent, stigma (4-)6(-8)-rayed, spreading, placentation axile , ovules many, campylotropous.  Fruits berries.  Seeds many, small.

Distribution in the Neotropics
  • A monogeneric family restricted to the Neotropics.
  • Tovaria Ruiz & Pav. (1-2 spp.)  T. pendula Ruiz & Pav. common, in disturbed habitats such as roadsides and landslides in montane areas to 3,000 m, from Mexico in the North to Bolivia in the South; T. diffusa (Macfad.) Fawc. & Rendle in Jamaica, doubtfully distinct from T. pendula.
Other important characters
  • Disc present; ovarysuperior, with 1 short style and a generally 6-rayed, spreading stigma.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Shrubs or herbs, with a penetrating smell.
  • Leaves alternate, trifoliolate.
  • Inflorescences elongate racemes.
  • Flowers usually with 8 sepals, petals, and stamens.
  • Fruits: berries with many, small seeds.
Key differences from similar families

Closest to Capparaceae (incl. Cleomaceae) and Brassicaceae. The differences among the three families are:

1.  Gynophore present; petals 4; stamens 4-many (all of the same length); stigma 1; fruit a capsule, berry, or drupe . Capparaceae (incl. Cleomaceae)1.  Gynophore absent or very short (<1 mm long); petals (6-)8(-9); stamens (6-)8(-9) (all of the same length); stigma (4-)6(-8)-rayed, spreading; fruit a berry . Tovariaceae1.  Gynophore absent; petals 4; stamens 6 (unequal: 4 long and 2 short); stigmas 2; fruit a siliqua.... Brassicaceae

General Description
Number of genera
  • One genus restricted to the Neotropics, Tovaria (1-2 species).
  • Tovaria is native in the Neotropics.
  • The genus is not cultivated and not of any economic importance.
Notes on delimitation
  • The Tovariaceae are placed in the order Brassicales by the APG system (Stevens, 2008; APG III, 2009).
  • In the past the family has often been included Capparaceae, and in Cronquist (1981) and Takhtajan (2009) the family was placed in the order Capparales.
Important literature

Andersson, L. 1995. Tovariaceae. In Harling, G. & Andersson, L. Flora of Ecuador 52: 17-20.

A.P.G. III. 2009. An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III. Bot. J. Linnean Soc. 161: 105-121.

Appel, O. & Bayer, C. 2003. Tovariaceae. In: Kubitzki, K. & Bayer, C. (eds.).The families and genera of vascular plants, vol.  5. Flowering Plants -Dicotyledons. Malvales, Capparales and Non-betalain Caryophyllales, pp. 397-399. Springer Verlag, Berlin, etc.

Maas, P.J.M. & Westra, L.Y.Th. 2005. Neotropical Plant Families. A concise guide of vascular plants in the Neotropics. 3rd ed., p. 223. A.R.G. Gantner Verlag K.G., Ruggell.

Nee, M. 2004. Tovariaceae. In: Smith, N.P., Mori, S.A., Henderson, A., Stevenson, D.W., and Heald, S.V. (eds.). Flowering plants of the Neotropics. pp. 376-377. Princeton University Press, Oxford and Princeton.

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

Takhtajan, A. 1997. Flowering Plants. Second edition. Springer Verlag, Berlin.

Tovariaceae Pax appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Nat. Pflanzenfam. [Engler & Prantl] 3(2): 207. 1891 [9 Mar 1891] (1891)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

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.