Subclass Caryophyllidae Takhtajan 1966

The Caryophyllidae consists of 3 orders, 14 families and about 11 000 species of herbaceous plants. It developed some 70 million years ago from the subclass Magnoliidae, through the order Ranunculales and is considered quite a recent development, compared with the Magnoliidae, Hamamelidae, Dilleniidae and Rosidae (Appendix I). The gynecium of Caryophyllidae comprises of a finite number of carpels united to form an inferior ovary, where ovules are attached to free central or basal placentas. In the andrecium, the stamens are inserted in a centrifugal sequence. Common chemical weapons used by Caryophyllidae are triterpenoid saponins. Triterpenoids saponin are surface-acting agents which dissolve the cytoplasmic membrane of Eukaryotic cells and impede nutrition. Note that triterpenes resembling our own steroidal hormones have therefore the tendency to exert among other things anti-inflammatory and diuretic activities. Other interesting principles of Caryophyllidae are alkaloids, lectins, peptides and oligo- or polysaccharides. The triterpenoid saponins of Caryophyllales are historically of pharmaceutical value.

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