Up: transcriber's preface
Arbores, frutices, rariusve herbæ, æstivatione corollæ inderdum valvari; staminibus definitis, iisdem sepalis antepositis sæpissime sterilibus vel abortivis; antheris bilocularibus, loculis parallelis; granulis pollinis lævibus; ovario e carpellis 35 conjuctis composito 35-loculari. rariusve simplici - Cætera fere Malvacearum.
BYTTNERIACEÆ, R. Brown in Flinders, Voy. 2 p.
540. DC. Prodr. 1. p 481, excl § 1. Endl. Gen. p. 995. Lindl. Veg. Kingd.
MALVACEÆ TR. BÜTTNERIEAE, St. Hil. Fl. Bras.
BÜTTERNIACEÆ, HERMANIACEÆ & DOMBEYACEÆ , Bartl.
The BYTTNERIACEÆ constitute one of the tropical families which have been separated from the Malvaceæ of Jussieu, but which manifestly belong to the same natural group with the proper Mallow Family. From the latter this order is at once distinguishable by it two-celled anthers, the cells of which are distinct and parallel, its smooth pollen, and usually few fertile stamens. The carpels are also uniformly few in number and perfectly consolidated into a a compound pistil, or in some cases reduced to one simple pistil. From the Sterculiaceæ, taken collectively, no absolute character has been indicated to distinguish them. Dr. Lindley, indeed, in this recent work cited above, through some mistake states that the anthers of Byttneriaceæ are turned inwards, and rests his diagnosis upon this character; but the anthers are plainly extrorse in the greater part, if not in all of the plants of the family.
The exterior stamens, which constitute the fertile series when there is only one, are situated opposite the petals and are usually coherent with their base, just as in Malvaceæ. Each single stamen of Melochia (Plate 134), therefore, is plainly equivalent to one of the five fascicles of which the Malvaceous column, when examined in an early stage, is seen to be composed, and doubtless originates from a single deduplication of the petal to which its base coheres; while the interposed series of sterile filaments, in Melochia reduced to five teeth alternate with the petals (Plate 134, Fig. 4), represent the true stamineal verticil, and correspond to the five naked lobes at the summit of the column of Malvaviscus (Plate 132) and of the Hibisceæ.
The Byttneriaceae belong to the intertropical regions of both worlds, to Australia, and to the Cape of Good Hope. Two plants of the family, however, both of tribe Hermannieæ, extend northwards to lat. 30° in Texas, and therefore claim a place in this work.
In their sensible properties these plants accord with Malvaceæ, both as to the mucilaginous juice and the toughness of the fibrous bark. The greater part are also pervaded, more or less, by a bitter and somewaht astringent extractive substance; and the seed yield a fatty oil. By far the most important product of the order is chocolate, one of the most nutritious of vegetable substances, which is made from the roasted seeds of Theobroma Cacao (a tree which forms whole forests in Equatorial America). The shells, or crustaceous integuements of the seed, partake of the same qualities, and are used as a substitute for chocolate itself or for coffee.
 Dombeya and allied genera (Dombeyoideae) are misplaced in Byttneriaceae, and are more closely allied to Sterculieae, Tilieae and Helictereae. Exclusion of the former may simplify the diagnosis of Bytternieaceae.
Up: transcriber's preface
HTML and footnote © 2003 Stewart R. Hinsley