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Passiflora subgenus Decaloba - its supersections and species

By J.M. MacDougal, K. Porter-Utley, S. Krosnick, & P.M. Jørgensen


Passiflora Subg. Decaloba (DC.) Rchb. Consp. Regn. Veg. 132. 1828. Basionym: Passiflora sect. Decaloba DC. Mem. Soc. Phys. Geneve 1: 435. 1822.


Woody vines or canopy lianas to small climbers, perennials or rarely annuals; plants glabrous to very pubescent. Stem terete, striate, grooved, angulate, or 3-5-angled; posture of new growth at shoot tip cernuous or erect. Stipules setaceous, subulate, or narrowly falcate, sometimes foliose. Leaves with palmate venation, often with 3 main veins, trilobed, bilobed (the center vein then shortest), or unlobed, often variegated in juveniles; leaf margins entire or rarely dentate to serrate; petiolar nectaries 2 (4+) and raised up from the petiole, or absent; laminar nectaries marginal, submarginal, or as dots between the main veins, or sometimes absent.  Prophylls of vegetative bud 1, 2, or rarely more. Primary floral peduncle present (only in 3 spp. of supersect. Pterosperma) or usually (reduced and) absent, therefore tendrils either borne from inflorescence or usually sessile-axillary; (secondary order) peduncles 3-bracteate, 1-20-flowered. Flowers generally less than 4 cm diam., mostly greenish-white, rarely red, floral cup/hypanthium shallow, rarely with a floral tube; petals in size similar to sepals, or much reduced, occasionally absent; coronal filaments in (1) 2-3 (4) series, usually yellowish or whitish, sometimes with red to purplish bands, especially at base; operculum membranous, plicate; limen short, fleshy; pollen spheroid to prolate, reticulate, 6-12 c olporate; styles slender, stigmas mostly capitate. Fruits mostly small dark purplish berries, or greenish, yellow, orange, or reddish, sometimes dehiscent capsules or capsule-like berries; seeds reticulate, alveolate, or transversely grooved with the ridges often rugulose. Germination epigeal, very rarely hypogeal. Chloroplast intron rpoC1 present or absent. Chromosomes mostly n=6, but also 7, 9, (11?), or 12, with limited tetraploidy based on x=6.

Subgenus Decaloba comprises ca. 235 species and is currently divided into eight supersections (Feuillet & MacDougal 2003 [2004]), seven of which are found in the New World (224 species), while the eighth supersection comprises all Old World members (21 species).

Passiflora boenderi leaf with egg mimic nectaries
Passiflora boenderi leaf with egg mimic nectaries.
Photo: J.M. MacDougal
Passiflora viridiflora inflorescence
Passiflora viridiflora inflorescence.
Photo: J.M. MacDougal
Passiflora citrina flower
Passiflora citrina flower.
Photo: J.M. MacDougal
Passiflora lancearia flower and fruit
Passiflora lancearia flower and fruit. Photo: Larry E. Gilbert [with permission]

Key to Supersections of Passiflora subgenus Decaloba

1. Petiolar nectaries present as (1)2–10 sessile or stipitate glands, generally occurring in subopposite pairs and of diverse form including cupiform, discoid, short-cylindric, clavate, capitate, obovoid, subglobose, or auriculate. 2
  2. Petiolar nectaries 4–10 (2–5 pairs); leaf blade unlobed; stipules 0.2–1.2 x 0.1–0.2 mm; flowers attached to tendril or borne from leaf axil; shoot apex cernuous; seeds 6–12 mm long. Supersect. Pterosperma
  2. Petiolar nectaries 2 (1 pair); leaf blade lobed or unlobed; stipules 0.5–27 x 0.2–45 mm; flowers borne from leaf axil; shoot apex straight or cernuous; seeds 3–9 mm long. 3
    3. Stipules 5–27 x 11–45 mm, foliose, clasping, with one prominent primary vein near the center of the stipule; floral bracts 2 or a third conspicuously smaller proximal bract sometimes present, the 2 distal bracts 6­–62 x 9–64 mm, foliose; stem completely glabrous; shoot apex cernuous. Supersect. Hahniopathanthus
    3. Stipules 0.5–16(–23) x 0.2–6(–15) mm, setaceous, subulate, narrowly triangular, falcate, ovate, or obovate, if foliose or clasping then one primary vein near one margin of the stipule, or a single prominent center vein not obvious; floral bracts 3 and similar in size and form, or 2 and setaceous, or absent, when present 1.3–18 x 0.2–15 mm, setaceous to foliose; stem glabrous or pubescent; shoot apex straight. 4
      4. Plants native to the Old World, not introduced to New World; leaf margins entire; bracts 0.1–0.5 mm wide; petals present; trichomes never sharply uncinate. Supersect. Disemma
      4. Plants native to the New World, rarely introduced to Old World; leaf margins entire, or serrate to dentate at least at base in Supersect. Bryonioides; bracts 0.1–15 mm wide, occasionally bracts absent in Supersect. Cieca; petals present, or absent in Supersect. Cieca; trichomes various, sharply uncinate in Supersect. Bryonioides. 5
        5. Petals absent; floral bracts 2, 1, or absent. Supersect. Cieca
        5. Petals present; floral bracts 3. 6
          6. Plants pubescent (at least at nodes and apices of petioles) with sharply uncinate trichomes. Supersect. Bryonioides
          6. Plants glabrescent or variously pubescent with straight or curved but not uncinate trichomes. 7
            7. Petiolar nectaries borne on basal half of petiole, very conspicuous, the glands often auricular; petals linear, less than 2 mm wide; peduncles uniflorous; moist lowlands. Supersect. Auriculata
            7. Petiolar nectaries borne variously along petiole, conspicuous or not, the glands not auricular; petals linear to oblong or narrowly ovate, 2 mm wide or wider; peduncles uniflorous or branched and multiflorous; lowlands to over 3000 m. Supersect. Multiflora
1.  Petiolar nectaries absent. 8
  8. Stipules 5–27 x 11–45 mm, foliose, clasping; floral bracts 2 or a third conspicuously smaller proximal bract sometimes present, the 2 distal bracts 6­–62 x 9–64 mm, foliose; stem completely glabrous; leaves with center vein longest; laminar nectaries absent or restricted to blade margins; seed coat reticulate or pitted. Supersect. Hahniopathanthus
  8. Stipules 0.3–13 x 0.07–10 mm, setaceous, subulate, narrowly triangular, falcate, or rarely foliose, not clasping; floral bracts 3 and similar in size and form, or absent, when present 0.7–10(–22) x 0.05–10(–19) mm, setaceous to foliose; stem glabrous or pubescent; leaves with center vein longest or shorter than lateral veins (leaves then appearing bilobed or truncate); laminar nectaries present abaxially between main veins of blade, or absent, but never marginal; seed coat transversely grooved. Supersect. Decaloba

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