Neobaclea crispifolia (Cav.) Krapov.
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Neobaclea is a monotypic Malvacaeous genus endemic to Patagonia, introduced by Hochreutiner in 1930.
Neobaclea is placed in the subfamily Malvoideae and tribe Malveae. This is supported by its schizocarpous fruit, and the equality of the number of ovarian locules, style arms, and mericarps. Within the tribe it is assigned to the Abutilon alliance, and may be the sister genus to Corynabutilon with which is share the otherwise unique trait of bilaterally decurrent clavate (club-shaped) stigmas. It also agrees with Corynabutilon in distribution (Neobaclea in Patagonia, Corynabutilon in temperate Chile and Argentina), chromosome number (n=8, widespread in the Abutilon alliance, but otherwise rare in Malveae), absence of an epicalyx (as in all but one genera in the Abutilon alliance), possession of apically aristate mericarps, and possession of multi-seeded mericarps. Hutchinson2 states that the staminal column is terminated with 5 small subulate lobes, which one presumes represent reduced staminodes, as found in Hibisceae, which is a trait unique in Malveae. Neobaclea also has a number of other atypical traits - ruffled and/or pinnately lobed foliage, and especially, epicalyx segments, and ventral and apical dehiscence. Noting that published DNA sequence data places Corynabutilon near the base of Abutilinae (Abutilon, Anoda and Gaya alliances), it seems not unreasonable to conjecture that Neobaclea also lies near the base of Abutilinae or even Malveae.
The single species, N. crispifolia, is a small, woody, shrub, with ruffled leaves. The leaves are ovate, cordate and prominently crispate or even pinnately lobulate. They are about 2cm long, and a little less in width, and are borne on short petioles. The stipules are triangular in shape, and persistent. The lavender or pink flowers are borne singly, on long stalks, in the leaf axils. They are about 1½" across. There is no epicalyx. The calyx is composed of 5 partly united leaf-like lobes, with a ring of nectaries within its base. The petals are obovate, shortly clawed, and adnate to the base of the staminal column. The staminal column is relatively short, up to half the length of the petals. The apex is surmounted by 5 small subulate lobes. Numerous stamens are borned towards the apex. The style is 5-8 branched, with clavate, bilaterally decurrent, stigmas. The fruit is a schizocarp composed of 5 to 8 ventrally and apically dehiscent mericarps. The mericarps are apically aristate, ventrally and apically dehiscent, stellate-pubescent, and 2- or 3-seeded.
Cytology: The diploid chromosome count is 16.
Synonyms: Abutilon crispifolium (Cav.) Dusén, Abutilon vidalii (Phil.) Speg., Neobaclea spirostegia Hochr., Sida crispifolia Cav. and Sphaeralcea crispifolia (Cav.) Baker f. are synonyms of Neobaclea crispifolia.
© 2003 Stewart Robert Hinsley