Family Melastomataceae A L de Jussieu 1789 nom conserv the Melastoma Family
Physical description: The family Melas-tomataceae is a vast group of 200 genera and about 4000 species of tropical herbs, shrubs and trees.The leaves in Melastom-ataceae are simple, opposite or verticillate and without stipules. In a field collection, Melastomataceae are easily recognizable by the blade which is marked with 3-9 longitudinal and parallel nerves. The flowers are hermaphrodite, often showy, and actinomorphic. The calyx is tubular, and the sepals are free or adnate to the ovary sometimes by septa-like connections. The calyx lobes are imbricate or rarely valvate.The petals are imbricate, free, rarely united at the base, and a corona is usually present between the petals and the stamens. The stamens are as numerous or twice as numerous as the petals, and showy. The filaments are free, characteristically geniculate and inflexed.
The anthers are 2-locular, basifixed, and open by a single pore. The connectives are often appendaged. The ovary is inferior, 2-many locular and contains numerous ovules attached to axil placentas. The fruits are capsular or baccate and the seeds are very small.
Pharmaceutical interest: The leaves of Miconia wi//denowii contain about 0.2% of caffeine and are used in Brazil to make tea. Several Asian ethnic groups use the fruits of the Me/astoma species to blacken the teeth as a sign of sexual maturity, hence the word Me/astoma. About thirty species of the plants classified within the family Melastomataceae are used for medicinal purposes in the Asia-Pacific. These are mostly astringent and used to stop diarrhea, check hemorrhages, heal and resolve infected or wounded skin, and for postpartum invigoration. It will be interesting to learn whether a more intensive study on Melastomataceae will disclose any molecules of therapeutic interest, especially tannins such as castalagin.
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