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Schoenocaulon A. Gray

Phylogeny of the Melanthiaceae (Liliales)

Schoenocaulon A. Gray, Ann. Lyc. Nat. Hist. N. Y. 4: 127. 1837.

Feather-shank, green-lily, sabadilla, cebadilla

Perennial herbs with Veratrum-alkaloids, chelidonic acid, and tannins. Rhizome much reduced, terminating in a bulb; bulb ovoid or oblong, covered by brown or black scarious scales, separating above into fibers or bulb covered by fibers only. Roots contractile. Stem single, erect to arcuate, glabrous, angled below and terete above. Leaves basal (plants scapose), simple, linear and grasslike, attenuate into hairlike tip, conduplicate, with serrulate margins, glabrous, persistent; venation parallel (with midrib). Inflorescence spicate or ħ racemose, virgate, polytelic, terminal. Flowers 3-merous, actinomorphic, perfect or functionally staminate, hypogynous to perigynous, sessile to short-pedicellate and becoming pedicellate as ovary ripens, erect or nodding, bracteate, protandrous or protogynous. Tepals 6, distinct to barely united at base, biseriate, subequal, oblong, broadly ovate, ligulate, to narrowly linear, entire, obscurely dentate, erose, 1 or 2 dentate along both sides, sometimes margins hyaline, erect to somewhat spreading, leathery and fleshy, petaloid, scarious, or membranceous, pale green, green tipped with red or magenta, red, maroon, yellowish white, or creamy white, with adaxial glandular concavity or ovoid padlike gland near base, persistent. Stamens typically 6 in 2 whorls (subequal), erect to reflexed, persistent; filaments distinct, filiform and slightly basally dilated or subclavate; anthers basifixed, 1 locular (thecae confluent), cordate or reniform, dehiscing by valves opening into a peltate disc, extrorse; pollen grains ellipsoid, 1 sulcate, sculpturing reticulate. Gynoecium 3 carpellate, ħ syncarpous (connate only along central column) [nearly apocarpous (carpels barely coherent)]; ovary superior, 3 locular, deeply lobed, placentation axile to parietal; ovules 2-16 in each locule, anatropous to campylotropous, bitegmic; styles 3, distinct, short, tapering to apex, erect (recurved in fruit), persistent; stigmas terminal, minute, obscure. Fruit a septicidal (ventricidal) capsule, chartaceous. Seeds narrowly ellipsoid to ovoid, irregularly compressed, with short terminal appendage, dark brown to golden brown, with corrugated seed coat; embryo minute, near hilum; endosperm copious, firm, oily.

Base chromosome number 8. (Including Asagraea Lindley, Sabadilla Schlecht). Type species: Schoenocaulon gracile A. Gray, nom. superfl. (Helonias dubia Michx. = S. dubium (Michx.) Small); the only species in the protologue. (Name from Greek schoinos, rush-like, and caulos, stem, in reference to the rushlike appearance of the inflorescence of tiny flowers).

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Last update: 9 March 1999
Edited by: Wendy B. Zomlefer and Kent D. Perkins
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