Family Chloranthaceae R Brown ex Lindley 1821 nom conserv the Chloranthus Family

Physical description: The family Chloranthaceae comprises of 5 genera and about 75 species of tropical and subtropical herbs which have been hardly studied from a pharmaceutical point of view. In terms of evolution, this family probably connects the order Piperales to the order Magnoliales. The leaves are simple, opposite, lobed or entire, stipulate and with a petiole more or less connate. The flowers are tiny, unisexual or bisexual, and epigy-nous and arranged in axillary or terminal compound spikes, panicles or heads.

The perianth is wanting or moderately 3-lobed. The andrecium consists of 1-3 stamens connate into a mass. The anthers are1-2-celled, and open lengthwise. The gynecium comprises of a single carpel. The stigma is sessile, the style is short, and the ovule is solitary and orthotropous. The fruits are small, and ovoid or globose berries.

Pharmaceutical interest: Chlorantha-ceae are interesting because they produce pentacyclic triterpenes such as betulinic acid. Chloranthus officinalis Bl. Chloran-thus eliator R. Br. ex Link (Chloranthus officinalis Bl.), Chloranthus spicatus (Thunb.) Mak. (Chloranthusinconspicuus Sw.), Chloranthusserratus, Chloranthus oldhamii Solms, Sarcandra glabra (Thunb.) Nak., Ascarina maheshwarii Swamy are of medicinal value in the Asia-Pacific. These are often used to make aromatic teas, treat fever and to invigorate health. It will be interesting to learn whether more intensive future research on this family will disclose any molecules of therapeutic interest.

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