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Robert E. Preston & Elizabeth McClintock

Annual, perennial herb, generally glabrous. Stem: prostrate to erect or climbing; nodes often rooting. Leaf: alternate, entire, simple, linear to ovate, closed basal sheath or lower leaf clasping stem. Inflorescence: cyme, umbel-like or not, terminal or terminal and axillary, subtended by 1–2 bracts [not]. Flower: generally bisexual, bilateral or radial, generally insect-pollinated; sepals 3, generally green; petals 3, blue, white, rose, purple, or pale violet, generally ephemeral; stamens 6 (3 sterile or not), filaments generally slender, often hairy; ovary superior, chambers 3, style 1. Fruit: generally capsule. Seed: 1–few per chamber.
40 genera, ± 630 species: especially tropics, subtropics some cultivated as ornamental. [Faden 2000 FNANM 22:170–197] —Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.

Key to Commelinaceae

Annual [perennial herb]. Inflorescence: flowers 1 or in few-flowered clusters, subtended by 1 ± leaf-like bract. Flower: bilateral; 2 petals larger, [generally blue or] pale violet, 1 smaller, paler; filaments glabrous.
± 170 species: tropics, warm temperate. (Jan, 1629–1692, and nephew Kaspar, 1667–1731, Commelijn, Holland)
Unabridged references: [Faden 2000 FNANM 22:192–197; Maheshwari & Maheshwari 1955 Phytomorphology 5:413–422]
Unabridged note: According to Linnaeus (1737, Critica Botanica; pp. 62–63 in translation by A. Hort, 1938) and Tucker (1989, Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 70:97–130) the genus was named for 3 members of the Commelijn family, 2 of whom (Jan and Kaspar) became famous botanists and are represented by the 2 large, showy petals; the third member (Kaspar, Jr., 1700–1734, son of Kaspar) died without having accomplished anything in Botany and is represented by the third, small, not showy petal. According to Tucker, Wijnands (1983, The Botany of the Commelins. viii + 232 pp. 64 plants. Rotterdam) contends that the genus name actually was adopted by Plumier, who probably was not aware of Kaspar, Jr.

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Next taxon: Commelina benghalensis


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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 25 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Commelina, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 25 2015

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