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Lythraceae facts for kids

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Lythrum salicaria
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales
Family: Lythraceae

Lythraceae is a family of flowering plants. It includes 500-600 species of mostly herbs, with some shrubs and trees, in 32 genera.


Lythraceae species are most often herbs, and less often shrubs or trees; the shrubs and trees often have flaky bark. Traits shared by species within the Lythraceae that distinguish them from belonging to other plant families are the petals being crumpled in the bud and the many-layered outer integument of the seed.


The leaves generally have an opposite arrangement, but sometimes are whorled or alternate. They are simple with smooth margins and pinnate venation. Stipules are typically reduced, appearing as a row of minute hairs, or absent.


The flowers are bisexual, radially or occasionally bilaterally symmetric, with a well-developed hypanthium. The flowers are most commonly four-merous but can be six-merous, with four to eight sepals and petals. The sepals may be distinct, partially fused to form a tube, or touching without overlapping. The petals are crumpled in the bud and wrinkled at maturity, and are typically distinct and overlapping; they are occasionally absent. There are usually twice as many stamens as petals, arranged in two whorls, and the stamens are often unequal in length. Occasionally, the stamens are reduced to one whorl, or are more numerous with multiple whorls. The ovary is typically superior, infrequently semi-inferior, or rarely inferior. The two to many carpels can be fused together (syncarpous), with two to numerous ovules in each locule, with axile placentation of the ovules.

Heterostyly – the presence of two (distylous) or three (tristylous) distinct flower morphs within a species differing in the lengths of the pistil and stamens – is common within the Lythraceae.

Fruits and seeds

The fruit is usually a dry, dehiscent capsule, occasionally a berry. The seeds are usually flattened and/or winged, with a many-layered outer integument. Epidermal hairs that expand and become mucilaginous when wet are found in about half the genera.


Lythraceae is widely distributed, but with most species tropical and some temperate. They are absent from the Sahara and most arid regions of Australia. Many species occur in aquatic or semi-aquatic habitats (Decodon, Didiplis, Rotala, Sonneratia, Trapa).

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