Family Gesneriaceae Dumortier 1822 nom conserv the Gesneriad Family

Physical description: The family Gesneriaceae consists of about 120 genera and 2500 species of tropical rainforest understorey herbs, shrubs and trees, closely allied to the Scrophulariaceae, and known to produce orobranchin, caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides (verbascoside). The leaves are simple, opposite, often lobed or toothed, occasionally asymmetrical, the smaller one is stipule-shaped and without stipules.The flowers are perfect, tubular, usually zygomorphic, often large and showy, and often solitary in the axil of the leaves. The calyx comprises of 5 sepals which are free or united into a lobed tube. The corolla consists of 5 petals united in a bilabiate tube. The andrecium comprises of 4 stamens arranged in asymmetrical pairs attached to the corolla tube and alternate with the lobes. 1-3 staminodes are often present in place of 1-3 stamens. The gynecium consists of a pair of carpels forming a compound that is superior or inferior single-locular ovary, each locule containing several ovules attached to 2 parietal placentas. The stigma is bilobed. The fruits are loculicidal or scepticidal capsules or berries containing several small seeds.

Pharmaceutical interest: A number of plants classified within the genera Gloxinia, Achimenes, Sinningia and Streptocarpus are cultivated for decorative purposes. Little is actually known of the therapeutic potential of this large family. Caffeoyl phenylethanoid glycosides might hold some antioxidant potentials. Approximately twenty plants classified within the family Gesneriaceae are of medicinal purposes in the Asia-Pacific. These are often used to counteract the putrefaction of the skin, to combat fever and to resolve inflammation.

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