Calyceraceae R.Br. ex Rich.

This family is accepted.


Hind, D.J.N. (2009). Neotropical Calyceraceae.


Annual or perennial herbs. Stems few - to many - branched, glabrous or various pubescent . Leaves in a basal rosette or cauline and alternate , exstipulate , entire or dentate or lobed to pinnatisect . Inflorescence of terminal capitula or opposite leaves, sessile or pendunculate, solitary or capitula in cymose inflorescences or subunits, capitula surrounded by an involucre of 1-2-seriate bracts, bracts often leaf-like, usually free ; receptacle conical or convex, rarely almost spheroidal; paleaceous and paleae linear to narrowly lanceolate , green, becoming woody at maturity. Flowers few to many (> 100), hermaphrodite or unisexual, actinomorphic or zygomorphic ; corollas infundibuliform, 4-6- lobed , persistent upon apex of achene at maturity; stamens 4-5, alternating with corolla lobes and filaments fused in lower 1/3 of corolla tube and filaments connate by flared bases or free , filament nectaries present; anthers erect , dehiscing antrorsely; style filiform , glabrous , exserted , stigma capitate or claviform; ovary unilocular, bicarpellate, ovule solitary, pendulous and anatropous. Fruit an achene with a persistent calyx often forming spine -like projections, single seeded, pericarp thin, endosperm fleshy ; calyx lobes free or united, sometimes spine -like and lignified outside; fruit dispersed separately at maturity or achenes fused and dispersed with receptacle .

General Description
Notes on delimitation
  • The family appears to be a naturally delimited one with no obvious confusion with any other.
  • As with the Compositae and Valerianaceae it is with a combination of characters that the family is recognized.
  • All species are native.
  • None knowingly cultivated.
  • Several endemics.
Number of genera

The only genera found in the flora area;

  • Acicarpha
  • Boopis
  • Calycera
  • Moschopsis

Absent are;

  • Nastanthus Miers
  • Gamocarpha DC.
Distribution in the Neotropics
  • The greater part of the family (6 genera and c. 40-50 spp.) are found in Argentina, of which 7 spp. are endemic, although the distribution within Argentina is mostly towards the south and outside of the flora area. Acicarpha Juss. (a genus of 5 spp.) is widespread from northern Argentina through to the Altiplano of Peru, a distribution duplicated by Calycera Cav. (11 spp.) found along the Andes.
  • Boopis Juss. (13 spp.) is mostly found in the south of Chile and Argentina although a few species are found in the flora area.
  • Moschopsis Phil. (7 spp.) just appears in Prov. Salta in Argentina in our flora area.
Distinguishing characters (always present)
  • The florets arranged in capitula surrounded by a few-seriate involucre of leaf-like bracts.
  • A receptacle with paleae.
  • Infundibuliform corollas remaining persistent on the cypsela at maturity.
  • 4-5 stamens alternating with corolla lobes and partially fused to the corolla.
  • Unilocular, bicarpellate ovary.
Key differences from similar families
  • Clearly similar to the Compositae, and because of the presence of a capitulum to the Dipsacaceae.
  • The Calyceraceae is easily separated from the Compositae by the leaf-like bracts forming the involucre rather than the involucral bracts in the Compositae that differ clearly from the cauline leaves.
  • The anthers are clearly free in the Calyceraceae and connate in the Compositae.
  • The filaments in the Calyceraceae commonly fused to the corolla, at least in part, and often adnate in the upper part, whereas in the Compositae the filaments are free (except very rarely i.e. Barnadesia Mutis).
  • Key differences with the Dipsacaceae are essentially concerning the fruit which is always enclosed within the involucel and often crowned by the persistentcalyx and the deciduous corollas.
Other important characters
  • Connate or free filaments.
  • Capitate of claviform stigma.
  • Calyx lobes that often become spiny in fruit.
Important literature

DeVore, M. L. (1994). Systematic studies of Calyceraceae. Unpublished PhD thesis, Ohio State University. [Acicarpha & Calycera only]

Hicken, C. M. (1919). Calyceracearum Argentinarum catalogus. (Catálogo de las Caliceráceas Argentinas). Estudos Botánicos, Primera Reunión de la Socidad Argentina de Ciencias Naturales: Tucumán, 1916, Secc. Bot. : 238-251 (& Supplemento 251-253.

Pontiroli, A. (1963). Flora Argentina - Calyceraceae. Revista Mus. La Plata, n.s. Bot. 9 (No. 41): 175-241.

Although outside of the region the following references cover taxa that may be found in the flora area:

Reitz, R. (1988). Caliceráceas. In: R. Teitz (ed.). Flora Ilustrada Catarinense. Herbário Barbosa Rodrigues, Itajaí. pp. 1-18.

Soraru, S. B. (1974). Familia 157: Calyceraceae. In: Burkart, A ed(s). Flora ilustrada de Entre Rios (Argentina), parte 6: 101-106.

Calyceraceae R.Br. ex Rich. appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Mém. Mus. Hist. Nat. 6: 74. 1820 (1820)

Accepted by

  • APG IV (2016)

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Neotropikey

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