Flagellariaceae Dumort.
  • Anal. Fam. Pl.: 59, 60 (1829) nom. cons.

This taxon is accepted by eMonocot

General Description

Shrubs or lianes. Leaves alternate, with split or entire often auricled sheathing bases; blade flat or plicate, with a long acuminate straight or cirriform tip; venation fine, parallel. Inflorescence a panicle. Flowers bracteate, hermaphrodite or dioecious, regular. Perianth subpetaloid or glumaceous, of 6 segments in 2 whorls. Stamens 6, opposite the perianth-segments; anthers basifixed, dithecous. Ovary superior, globose, 3-locular, with a short style and 3 linear stigmas. Fruit a small drupe, 3–1-seeded. Seed hemispheric or spherical.

Erect or climbing. Leaves sometimes ending in a tendril; leaf-sheath embracing the stem, closed. Flowers hermaphrodite or dioecious, in terminal panicles. Perianth persistent, segments 6, 2-seriately imbricate, dry or somewhat petaloid. Stamens 6; anthers 2-locular, introrse, opening lengthwise by slits. Ovary superior, 3-locular; style 3-lobed. Ovules solitary in each loculus, spreading or pendulous from the central axis. Fruit indehiscent, fleshy or drupaceous. Seeds with copious endosperm.

Perennial lianas from sympodial rhizomes; aerial shoots solid, glabrous. Leaves alternate, distichously arranged, glabrous, rolled in bud; sheath closed, distally with 2 lateral lobes; lamina lanceolate-acuminate constricted at base, distal part prolonged into a tendril. Inflorescence terminal, paniculiform. Flowers usually hermaphroditic, trimerous, (sub-)sessile, without prophylls. Tepals in 2 whorls, whitish, membranous, subequal, persistent, their bases shortly fused and somewhat saccate. Stamens in 2 whorls, occasionally reduced to staminodia; filaments very short, anthers linear, basifixed tetrasporangiate, laterally dehiscent by longitudinal slits. Ovary syncarpous, superior, 3-locular with axile placentation; style short, divided into 3 spreading, linear stigmatic branches with papillose upper surface; ovules solitary in each locule, pendulous, bitegmic, almost atropous, crassinucellate. Fruit drupaceous, red or black, 1(-2)-seeded; seeds with abundant starchy endosperm, embryo minute, lenticular.

A monogeneric family with about four species, widespread throughout the Palaeotropis including Australia and the Pacific Islands.


They occur in coastal regions and humid, but not constantly swampy lowland forests, forest margins or mangroves (Linder 1987), occasionally up to 1500 m above sea level.


Flagellaria species are distributed throughout tropical Asia, Africa, N Australia and the Pacific Islands.


This is very minor. The shoots are used for basket work and to construct thatches. Some medical uses were summarised by Mary et al. 1985.

Included Genus


  • 1 D. M. Napper (1971) Flagellariaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa
  • 2 F.n. Hepper (1968) Flagellariaceae. Flora of West Tropical Africa 3(1)
  • 3 Dumortier, B.C.J. Original publication of Flagellariaceae. (1829).
  • 4 Appel, O. & Bayer, C. Flagellariaceae. Flowering Plants. Monocotyledons: Alismatanae and Commelinanae (except Gramineae) 208-211 (1998).

 Information From

eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from http://e-monocot.org.
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Flora of West Tropical Aftrica (FWTA)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2004. eFloras: Iridaceae. [online] Available at: http://kew.org/efloras/ [Accessed 2013-08-02]
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Flora of Tropical East Africa (FTEA)
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2004. eFloras: Iridaceae. [online] Available at: http://kew.org/efloras/ [Accessed 2013-08-02]
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World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/ Retrieved 2011 onwards
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