Annual or perennial herbs, sometimes undershrubs. Leaves +/- crowded at base of stem, lax above, entire and grass-like, attentuate to base and sometimes stem-clasping. Flowers in compound umbels, with or without bracts. Calyx with small or obsolete teeth. Petals subcircular, obovate or oblong, +/- deeply concave, inflexed at apex, keeled on inner face. Disc flat, depressed, rarely subconical. Stamens longer than petals. Styles very short. Fruit +/- laterally flattened, sometimes subdidynamous, oblong, crowned with disc; mericarps with 5 acute wings or prominent veins, rarely veins obsolete; oil ducts present or 0; carpophore 2-fid or 2-partite. Seeds subterete. x = 7, 8 (6, 11) ( polyploidy, B-chromosomes).
Species +/- 180, mainly Europe, Asia and Africa; 1 in sthn Afr.: Bupleurum mundii Cham. & Schltdl.; widespread in the southern, eastern and northeastern parts of sthn Afr.; *B. rotundifolium L. occurs rarely as an escape in the northern parts of South Africa.
Annual, monoecious herbs. Leaves 2- or 3-pinnate, with ultimate segments linear. Flowers unisexual, in terminal and lateral umbels; involucres of a few bracts. Calyx with 0 or only small teeth. Petals elliptic, with inflexed apex. Disc cushion-shaped. Stamens longer than petals; filaments linear; anthers elliptic, subdidynamous. Fruit elliptic in outline, ribbed; mericarps strongly dorsiventrally flattened, convex on back, concave on face and with winged margins, with or without warty ridges; oil ducts 6, 4 in furrows, 2 on face; carpophore 2-partite. Seeds +/- oblong in cross section. x = 10.
Species 2, South Africa; coastal sands of the Northern and Western Cape, from Port Nolloth to Gansbaai.
Perennial herbs with fleshy, tuberous root and slender, leafless scapes. Leaves basal, arising after flowering, the first formed ones finely dissected or sometimes pinnate with broad, dentate lobes, the later ones variously dissected, usually finely bi- or triternate, segments dentate. Flowers in compound umbels; involucre often absent. Calyx with or without minute teeth. Petals obovate or elliptic, with long, inflexed apex and keeled inner face. Disc shortly conical. Stamens slightly shorter than petals; filaments terete; anthers elliptic. Styles short. Fruit small, ovoid, shorter than 4 mm, usually narrowing towards apex, ribbed; mericarps flat on face, convex on back, with 5 prominent ribs; oil ducts 6, 1 in each furrow, 2 on face; carpophore bipartite. Seeds semiterete.
Species 5 or more, widespread in the western, central and southern parts of South Africa and eastwards as far as the Eastern Cape.
Annual, compact, prostrate herbs, very free-flowering. Leaves irregularly subternately dissected. Flowers in umbels from base and apex of branches; involucres foliaceous. Calyx with short, ovate teeth. Petals ovate with short, inflexed apex, keeled on face, channelled on back. Disc slightly raised, with somewhat undulate margin. Stamens as long as petals; filaments filiform; anthers oblong. Ovary villous; styles distinct, somewhat linear. Fruit circular, somewhat biconvex, crowned with persistent disc and styles, covered with long, stiff, club-shaped hairs mixed with thin hairs; mericarps not separating, convex on back, flat on face, with median rib; oil ducts 9-13, forming separate pockets in wing; carpophore bipartite. Seeds linear in cross section.
Species 1, sthn Afr.: Choritaenia capensis Benth., widespread in the central and northeastern parts.
Perennial herbs (sometimes flowering in first year), prostrate to erect or scandent. Leaves opposite or alternate, entire, flat. Inflorescences axillary and terminal, sessile or pedunculate, woolly spikes, or spikes arranged in a loose panicle, bracteate. Flowers unisexual or bisexual, plants probably sometimes polygamous, solitary in axils of bracts; bracteoles 2; bracteoles and perianth falling together with fruit but bracts and bracteoles persistent. Tepals 5, free, oval, or lanceolate-oblong, sometimes unequal, some or all softly woolly, with membranous margin and a thin to wider green centre. Stamens (and subulate staminodes of female flowers) 5; filaments connate at base into a basin or cup, alternating with subulate to oblong pseudostaminodes; anthers 2-thecous. Ovary small; ovule solitary, suspended from an elongated basal funicle; style shorter or longer than ovary; stigmas 2 or capitellate. Capsule thin-wall, delicate, bursting irregularly, membranous, enclosed in perianth. Seed compressed-reniform, firm, black. x= 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 (polyploidy) .
Species +/- 10, warmer parts of Africa and Asia; 3 in sthn Afr., widespread, but absent from KwaZulu-Natal and southern Cape region.
Annual or perennial herbs, sometimes becoming woody at base, prostrate or erect to floating or scrambling. Leaves opposite, entire. Inflorescences heads or short spikes, axillary, sessile or pedunculate, solitary or fasciculate, bracteate; bracts persistent. Flowers bisexual, solitary in axils of bracts; bracteoles 2, usually shorter than perianth, persistent or not; perianth falling with fruit. Tepals 4 or 5, free or concrescent at base, similar to very dissimilar, glabrous or furnished with smooth or denticulate hairs. Stamens 2-5, some occasionally anantherous, hypogynous; filaments monadelphous at base into a cup or tube, alternating with large and laciniate to small pseudostaminodes or these rarely obsolete; anthers 1-thecous. Ovary suborbicular or obovate in outline, usually compressed; ovule solitary, pendulous, basal; style short or absent; stigma capitellate. Capsule thin-walled or sometimes corky, indehiscent. Seeds +/- lenticular. x= 17 (7, 8, 9, 10) (high polyploidy) .
Species +/- 100, best represented in the New World tropics and subtropics; 4 introduced into sthn Afr., naturalised, widespread.
Annual or rarely perennial herbs, erect or decumbent, glabrous or furnished with short and gland-like or multicellular hairs; plants monoecious or dioecious. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or sinuate, long-petiolate. Inflorescences basically cymose, of dense to lax axillary thyrses or upper clusters dense, leafless, aggregated and spike-like, bracteate. Flowers unisexual or bisexual; bracteoles 2-5, small and herbaceous or membranous and spinescent. Tepals (1-3)5, glabrous, membranous, equal or subequal, free or connate below and somewhat indurate, occasionally absent in flowers of dioecious spp. Stamens as many as tepals; filaments free at base; pseudostaminodes absent; anthers 2-thecous. Ovary ellipsoid, compressed; ovule solitary, subsessile, erect; style short or absent; stigmas 2 or 3, subulate or filiform. Fruit a dry capsule, usually enclosed in perianth, indehiscent or circumscissile, sometimes 2- or 3-toothed at apex. Seed globose or compressed, black, smooth and shiny; testa thin; embryo annular; endosperm present. x= 17, 8 (7, 9, 10, 12) (high polyploidy) .
Species +/- 60, tropical and warm temperate regions of both Old and New World, sporadic as weeds in cooler temperate areas; 15 native and introduced in sthn Afr., mostly widespread weeds of cultivation. A difficult genus, complicated by the cultivation of some species (e.g. A. lividus L. and A. tricolor L.) as green vegetables and others (especially A. caudatus L. and A. hybridus L. agg.) as grain crops. It is also a genus prone to hybridisation, though probably the frequency of natural hybrids has been overestimated.
Small, much-branched subshrubs, rigid and twiggy; young branches very shortly woolly. Leaves alternate or occasionally opposite, sometimes much reduced, fleshy. Inflorescences short to subcapitate spikes, bracteate. Flowers bisexual, solitary in axils of bracts; bracteoles 2. Tepals 5, free, stiffly membranous, subequal, with straight, silky hairs on back. Stamens 5; filaments fused to the quadrate to deltoid, fringed or entire pseudostaminodes; anthers 2-thecous. Ovary ovoid or turbinate, glabrous or downy; ovule solitary, suspended from an elongated basal funicle; style slender; stigma capitate. Capsule thin-walled, indehiscent.
Species 2, confined to sthn Afr., both in Namibia and Northern Cape.
Annual or perennial herbs, sometimes rather woody at base, occasionally scandent. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or lobed. Inflorescences dense, terminal and axillary spikes, or in fascicles along floriferous branchlets, or more generally lax or compact terminal and axillary thyrses, bracteate. Flowers bisexual, small, white, silvery or rosy, sessile or shortly pedicellate; bracteoles 2. Tepals 5, free, all +/- equal, glabrous or rarely somewhat pilose. Stamens 5; filaments expanded and fused into a cup below, free portions deltoid below and narrow above or +/- swollen below; pseudostaminodes 0, rarely with minute, blunt intermediate teeth; anthers 2-thecous. Ovary ovoid to subglobose; ovules few to many, rarely solitary; style distinct and elongate to almost obsolete; stigmas 2 or 3, circular to filiform. Capsule membranous, circumscissile, sometimes thickened at apex. Seeds black, usually strongly compressed and shining, subcircular, reticulate, grooved, punctate or tuberculate, not arillate; endosperm present. x= 9 (7, 11) (high polyploidy) .
Species +/- 45, warmer regions of both Old and New World; 2 in sthn Afr., mainly in Namibia, Botswana, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.