Family Dilleniaceae Salisbury 1807 nom conserv the Dillenia family
Physical description: The family Dilleni-aceae consists of 10 genera and about 350 species of tropical trees, shrubs, climbers and herbs which are best developed in Australia. Dilleniaceae are so far known to abound with tannins and saponins. Note that flavonols (myricetin) and occasionally benzylisoquinoline alkaloids are also known to occur in the family. The family Dilleniaceae is thought to connect Magnoliidae to the Dilleniidae. One must have probably observed the
botanical similitude between Illiciaceae (subclass Magnoliidae, order Illiciales) and Dilleniaceae. The leaves of Dilleniaceae are simple, alternate, without stipules, or winged and adnate to the petiole. The blade is serrate, leathery and shows several pairs of conspicuous secondary nerves. The flowers are yellow or white, perfect, hypogynous and showy. The calyx comprises of 3-20 spoon-shaped, deciduous and fleshy sepals originating in a centrifugal sequence and the corolla comprises of 2-5 very thin petals which are often crumpled in buds. The andrecium comprises of 5-20 stamens originating in centrifugal sequence. The gynecium consists of a single to 20 carpels arranged in a single whorl more or less united to form a compound ovary with distinct styles. The fruits are variable and the seeds are embedded in a juicy and showy aril.
Pharmaceutical interest: A classical example of Dilleniaceae is Dillenia suffruticosa (Griff.) Martelli (shrubby Dillenia), an invasive species native to Southeast Asia, which is widely grown as an ornamental shrub in tropical countries for its yellow flowers and red fruits. Not much is really known yet about the pharmacological potential of this family and it will be interesting to learn whether more intensive future research on this family will disclose any molecules of therapeutic interest. Note that betulinic acid is known to occur in this family. About 20 species of Dilleniaceae are used for medicinal purposes in the Asia-Pacific. These are often used to treat fever and cough, stop diarrhea, promote urination, and to wash hair and infected skin, mostly on account of the saponins and tannins.
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