Vochysiaceae A.St.-Hil.

First published in Mém. Mus. Hist. Nat. 6: 265. 1820 (1820)nom. cons.
This family is accepted


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

Mostly trees. Leaves simple, opposite or whorled. Flowers in racemes or solitary, strongly zygomorphic, single calyx lobe enlarged; petals often inconspicuous or absent; single stamen, 2–4 staminodes. Fruits and seed often winged.
Characters of similar families: Myrtaceae: flowers usually actinomorphic, stamens generally numerous.
Morphology General Habit
Trees, shrubs or occasionally climbing
Morphology Leaves Stipules
Stipules paired, deciduous
Morphology Leaves
Leaves simple, opposite or whorled, margins entire, venation brochidodromous, occasionally with extrafloral nectaries at the base of the petiole
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescences with flowers in racemes, or reduced to a few axillary flowers
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers strongly zygomorphic, hermaphrodite, calyx 5-merous, often very showy with a single enlarged and spurred, white or yellow nectiferous sepal, petals (1)3–5, often absent; usually a single fertile stamen that is larger than the filament, with 2–4 staminodes; ovary superior, 3-locular or inferior and 1-locular, placentation marginal or axile, 2– many ovules per locule; single style and stigma
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit a loculicidal capsule or indehiscent and winged
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 1–many, often winged.
A mainly neotropical family with a few species in West Africa. 7 genera and c. 200 species.
With centres of diversity in Central and South American lowland forests and savannas, where extensive stands of a single species can flower simultaneously across wide areas.

Flávio França (2009). Neotropical Vochysiaceae.


Trees or shrubs; resinous. Leaves opposite, whorled or rarely alternate , leathery, simple , with or without stipules, when present, then small, sometimes represented by glands . Lamina entire , mucilaginous epidermis present (often), or absent; hairs present; exclusively eglandular. Inflorescences cymose, terminal , flowers aggregated into thyrses. Flowers bracteolate obliquely zygomorphic , tetracyclic, perigynous or epigynous , hypanthium present or absen;  perianth usually with distinct calyx and corolla , or corolla sometimes missing; isomerous, or anisomerous;  calyx connate basally, with 5 lobes markedly longer than tube, the posterior lobe commonly enlarged spurred or gibbous. Corolla usually present, with 1-3 or occasionally 5 petals; stamens usually 1, rarely 5, free ; staminodes, when present usually 0-4; anthers sometimes with an expanded connective;  ovary syncarpous, 1 or 3 carpellate, superior or inferior; placentation marginal when ovary inferior, axile when ovary superior ; ovules 2 to many per locule . Fruits loculicidal capsules or indehiscent and winged samaroid. Seeds often with conspicuous trichomes or glabrous , often winged .

General Description
Notes on delimitation
  • Although anatomy and molecular data strongly suggest that Vochysiaceae are to be included in Myrtales, at first sight the flowers appear unlike those of the other members of the order.
  • Hardly surprisingly, Vochysiaceae have often been associated with families that are no longer thought to be at all closely related such as the Polygalaceae; and Vochysiaceae has often included Euphronia Mart. which has recently been recognised as a separate family related to the Chrysobalanaceae.
Number of genera
  • There are 4 Neotropical genera: Vochysia Aubl. (c. 100 spp.), Qualea Aubl. (incl. Ruizterania) (c. 60 spp.), Callisthene Mart. (11 spp.) and Salvertia A.St.-Hil. (1 sp.)
  • Vochysiaceae is very common in the Brazilian plateau.
  • Some species are tolerated in urban arborization, but rarely cultivated.
  • Salvertia is endemic to Brazilian savanna vegetation (cerrado).
  • Callisthene also has a restricted distribution.
General notes
  • Aluminum accumulators.
Distribution in the Neotropics
  • Lowland tropical America, Mexico to southern of Brazil.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • Simple leaves.
  • Gibbous or spurred calyx.
  • 1 fertile stamen.
Key differences from similar families
  • Vochysiaceae is closely related to Mytaceae, but the two families are very different.
  • Myrtaceae have a lot of stamens, ovary always inferior, corolla pentamerous.
  • Vochysiaceae have only one fertile stamen, ovary often superior and corolla rarely pentamerous.
Other important characters
  • Leaves opposite or whorled.
Notable genera and distinguishing features
  • Vochysia species include great trees with very beautiful yellow flowers.
  • Qualea species only have one petal but it is very pretty, yellow, white or blue.
Important literature

BARBOSA, A.R. 1999. As espécies de Vochysia Aublet (Vochysiaceae) ocorrentes no estado de Sao Paulo. Dissertacao de mestrado, Universidade de Campinas, Campinas.

FRANCA, F. 1996. O gênero Callisthene Mart. & Zucc. (Vochysiaceae) no estado da Bahia. Sitientibus 15: 41-47.

FRANCA, F. 1998. Vochysiaceae no Distrito Federal. Boletim do Herbário Ezechias Paulo Heringer 2: 7-18.

KAWASAKI, M. L. 1995. Vochysiaceae. In Flora of Pico das Almas, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil (B. Stannard, ed.). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, p. 639-643.

KAWASAKI, M.L. 1998. Systematics of Erisma (Vochysiaceae). Memoirs of The New York Botanical Garden, 81: 1-40.

LISBOA, M. 2000. Estudos taxonomicos sobre o gênero Qualea Aubl. subgênero Amphilochia (Mart.) Stafleu. Dissertacao de Mestrado. Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas.

LITT, A. & CHASE, M. 1998. The systematic position of Eupronia, with comments on the position of Balanops: an analysis based on rbcL sequence data. Systematic Botany 23: 401-409.

LITT, A. & CHEEK, M. 2002. Korupodendron songweanum, a new genus and species of Vochysiaceae from West-Central Africa. Brittonia 54: 13-17.

LLERAS, E. 1976. Revision and taxonomic position of the genus Eupronia Martius ex Martius & Zuccarini (Vochysiaceae). Acta Amazonica 6: 43-47.

MARCANO-BERTI, L. 1969. Un nuevo genero de las Vochysiaceae. Pittieria 2: 3-27.

MARTINS, H.F. 1981 O gênero Callisthene Mart. (Vochysiaceae). Ensaio para uma revisao taxinômica. Tese de mestrado. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 115p.

NEGRELLE, R.R. 1988. Vochysiaceae St. Hil. do estado do Paraná, Brasil. Dissertacao de mestrado, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba.

PASSOS, V. & FRANCA, F. 2003. Vochysiaceae da Chapada Diamantina-Bahia, Brasil. Sitientibus, série Ciências Biológicas, 3: 35-43.

STAFLEU, F.A. 1948. A monograph of the Vochysiaceae. I. Salvertia and Vochysia. Recueil des Travaux Botanique Néerlandaise 41: 397-540.

STAFLEU, F.A.1952. II. Callisthene. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 1: 222-242.

STAFLEU, F.A. 1953. III. Qualea. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 2: 144-217.

STAFLEU, F.A.1954a. IV. Erisma. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 3: 459-480.

STAFLEU, F.A.1954b. Novitates Vochysiacearum I. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 3:405-411.

VIANNA, M.C. & MARTINS, H.F. 2001. Voquisiáceas. In Flora ilustrada Catarinense (A. Reis, ed.). Herbário Barbosa Rodrigues, Itajaí.

VIANNA, M.C. & PEREIRA, J.F. 2002. Novitates Vochysiae- I. Boletim do Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Botânica 117, p. 1-11.

VIANNA, M.C. 1980. O gênero Vochysia Aublet (Vochysiaceae) no estado do Rio de Janeiro. Rodriguésia 32: 237-317.

VIANNA, M.C. 1994. Nota sobre a ocorrência de três táxons do gênero Vochysia Aublet (Vochysiaceae) na regiao de Carangola-MG. Pabstia 5: 9-19.

VIANNA, M.C., PEREIRA, J.F. & FRANCA, F. 2002. Novitates Vochysiae-II. Boletim do Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Botânica 118, p.1-5.

WARMING, E. 1875. Vochysiaceae. In Flora Brasiliensis (C.F.P Martius, ed.), v. 13, pars 2, p. 17-166, tab. 2-21.


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

Morphology General Habit
Large trees, shrubs or climbers
Morphology Leaves
Leaves opposite or verticillate, rarely alternate, simple; stipules small or absent, or reduced to glands
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers hermaphrodite, zygomorphic, racemose or paniculate
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals 5, imbricate, the posterior often the largest and gibbous or spurred at the base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 1–5, contorted
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium
Stamens hypogynous or perigynous, only 1 fertile; filaments free; anthers 2-celled, opening lengthwise
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium
Ovary superior, or rarely adnate to the calyx and hence practically inferior, often oblique, 1–3-celled; style 1; ovules 1-many in each cell, axile
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit capsular or samaroid; seeds one or more, often winged, sometimes pilose; endosperm absent or rarely present; embryo straight
A large family of tropical America, with only a single genus in Africa


  • 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 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
  • The Kew Tropical Plant Families Identification Handbook

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