Indian gooseberry Phyllanthus officinalis, photographed by L. Shyamal.

Belongs within: Malpighiales.

The Phyllanthaceae are a pantropical family of flowering plants, treated in the past as a subgroup of the Euphorbiaceae but now separated due to their distinct phylogenetic position within the Malpighiales (Davis et al. 2007). They often have finely-cracking bark, two-ranked and entire leaves lacking glands, and explosively dehiscent fruits (Angiosperm Phylogeny Website). Some species of Phyllanthus are utilised for food: for instance, the sour fruits of Phyllanthus acidus and P. officinalis are used in pickles (Polunin 1988). Bischofia javanica, bishop wood, is a tree with pinnately compound leaves used for wood for building. It is native to southern Asia and Australasia and has been introduced to North America.

Characters (from the Angiosperm Phylogeny Website): Herbs to trees; plants aluminium accumulators; cyanogenesis via the tyrosine pathway, tropane and pyrrolizidine alkaloids, cucurbitacins, nonhydrolysable tannins present, ellagic acid absent; vessel elements with simple or scalariform perforation plates; leaves on orthotropic axes often reduced, spiral, on plagiotropic axes two-ranked (occasionally spiral), involute or conduplicate, margins entire (sometimes toothed); calyx 2-8(-12) sepals, often basally connate, corolla (0, 3-)5(-9) petals, disc extra- or interstaminal (sometimes absent or central); staminate flowers: anthers 2-35, often more or less connate, extrorse, pollen reticulate; carpellate flowers: gynoecium 1 [2-5(-15)], outer integument 2-many and inner integument 2-3(-5) cells across, nucellus 10 or more cells across, protruding, obturator placental, styles usually bifid, stigmas with adaxial furrow, wet; fruit a septicidal capsule/schizocarp; seeds large; tegmen 2-5(-20) cells thick, exotegmen with ribbon-like cells (smetimes radially elongated); endosperm copious (occasionally absent).

| i. s.: Notoleptopus decaisneiLK14
| | |--A. benthamianaA78
| | |--A. microcalyxA78
| | `--A. roxburghiiDD73
| `--Bischofia [Bischofiaceae]XR12
| `--B. javanicaC78
| `--CroizatiaXR12
| |--F. suffruticosaXR12
| `--F. virosaLK14
| |--F. v. ssp. virosaLK14
| `--F. v. ssp. melanthesoidesLK14
`--Phyllanthus [Phyllanthoideae]XR12
|--P. acidus [=Cicca acida]P88
|--P. airy-shawiiMS03
|--P. amarusLK14
|--P. aridusLK14
|--P. beddomei (Gamble) Mohanan 1985 [=Reidia beddomei Gamble 1925]VR02
|--P. calycinusKM08
|--P. caribeusGA97
|--P. clarkei Hooker 1887MS03
|--P. dinteriCV06
|--P. emblicaP03
|--P. exilisLK14
|--P. ferdinandiM87
|--P. fraternusKJ05
|--P. fuernrohriiKM08
|--P. gasstroemiiH90
|--P. gunniiH90
|--P. hebecarpusH90
|--P. hirtellus [incl. P. thymoides]H90
|--P. lacerosusLK14
|--P. lacunariusH90
|--P. lacunellusH90
|--P. lamprophyllusHM03
|--P. lindenianusJ87
| |--P. l. var. lindenianusJ87
| `--P. l. var. inaequifoliusJ87
|--P. maderaspatanusH90
|--P. myriophyllusJ87
|--P. niruriC55
|--P. officinalis [=Emblica officinalis]P88
|--P. parvifolius Don 1825 [incl. P. juniperinus Wallich ex Mueller-Argoviensis 1863]MS03
|--P. polyphyllusUB06
|--P. praetervisus Mueller-Argoviensis 1865 [=P. juniperinus var. obovatus Mueller-Argoviensis 1863]MS03
|--P. pseudoparvifolius Mitra & Sanjappa 2003MS03
|--P. reticulatusLK14
|--P. rotundifolius Klein ex Willdenow 1805A02
|--P. similisH90
|--P. subcrenulatusH90
|--P. superbusT-W89
|--P. tenellusB00
|--P. urinariaXR12
|--P. virgatus [incl. P. filicaulis, P. minutiflorus, P. simplex]H90
`--P. watsoniiP88

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A78] Ananthakrishnan, T. N. 1978. Thrips galls and gall thrips. Zoological Survey of India, Technical Monograph 1: 1–69, 26 pls.

[A02] Augustine S. J., Fr. K. T. 2002. Rediscovery of Phyllanthus rotundifolius Klein ex Willd., Euphorbiaceae, after 101 years (1899-2000) in Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu, south India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99 (3): 562–564.

[B00] Braby, M. F. 2000. Butterflies of Australia: their identification, biology and distribution vol. 2. CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood (Victoria).

[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[C78] Clunie, N. M. U. 1978. The vegetation. In: Womersley, J. S. (ed.) Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea vol. 1 pp. 1–11. Melbourne University Press: Carlton South (Australia).

[CV06] Craven, P., & P. Vorster. 2006. Patterns of plant diversity and endemism in Namibia. Bothalia 36 (2): 175–189.

[DD73] Deb, D. B., & R. M. Dutta. 1973. Contribution to the flora of Tirap Frontier Division. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 69 (3): 547–573.

[GA97] Gillespie, L. J., & W. S. Armbruster. 1997. A contribution to the Guianan flora: Dalechampia, Haematostemon, Omphalea, Pera, Plukenetia, and Tragia (Euphorbiaceae) with notes on subfamily Acalyphoideae. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 86: 1–48.

[H90] Harden, G. J. (ed.) 1990. Flora of New South Wales vol. 1. New South Wales University Press.

[HM03] Holloway, J. D., & S. E. Miller. 2003. The composition, generic placement and host-plant relationships of the joviana-group in the Parallelia generic complex (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae, Catocalinae). Invertebrate Systematics 17: 111–128.

[J87] Judd, W. S. 1987. Floristic study of Morne La Visite and Pic Macaya National Parks, Haiti. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum—Biological Sciences 32 (1): 1–136.

[KJ05] Katewa, S. S., A. Jain, B. L. Chaudhary & P. Galav. 2005. Some unreported medicinal uses of plants from the tribal area of Southern Rajasthan. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 47: 121–130.

[KM08] Keighery, G. J., & W. Muir. 2008. Vegetation and vascular flora of Faure Island, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 75: 11–19.

[LK14] Lyons, M. N., G. J. Keighery, L. A. Gibson & T. Handasyde. 2014. Flora and vegetation communities of selected islands off the Kimberley coast of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81: 205–244.

[MS03] Mitra, R. L., & M. Sanjappa. 2003. Phyllanthus parvifolius, P. clarkei (Euphorbiaceae) and related Indian taxa. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 45: 1–20.

[M87] Mueller, F. von. 1887. Some hitherto undescribed plants of New South Wales. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 1 (4): 1105–1110.

[P03] Paul, T. K. 2003. Botanical observations on the Purulia pumped storage hydropower project area, Bagmundi Hills, Purulia district, West Bengal. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 45: 121–142.

[P88] Polunin, I. 1988. Plants and Flowers of Malaysia. Times Editions: Singapore.

[T-W89] Tenison-Woods, J. E. 1889. On the vegetation of Malaysia. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, series 2, 4 (1): 9–106, pls 1–9.

[UB06] Udayan, P. S., & I. Balachandran. 2006. Cleistanthus sankunnianus Sivar. & Indu Balach.—a rare and little known endemic plant rediscovered from wild populations in Kollam district of Kerala state, India. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 48: 217–218.

[VR02] Viswanathan, M. B., N. Ramesh, M. Maridass & U. Manikandan. 2002. Rediscovery of a critically endangered species Phyllanthus beddomei (Gamble) Mohanan, Euphorbiaceae, from Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 99 (3): 560–562.

[XR12] Xi, Z., B. R. Ruhfel, H. Schaefer, A. M. Amorim, M. Sugumaran, K. J. Wurdack, P. K. Endress, M. L. Matthews, P. F. Stevens, S. Mathews & C. C. Davis. 2012. Phylogenomics and a posteriori data partitioning resolve the Cretaceous angiosperm radiation Malpighiales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109 (43): 17519–17524.

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