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Published In: A Voyage to Terra Australis 2: 545. 1814. (19 Jul 1814) (Voy. Terra Austral.) Name publication detail

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/22/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted

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ZYGOPHYLLACEAE (Caltrop Family) (D. M. Porter, 1972)

Plants annual, the stems often with somewhat swollen nodes. Leaves opposite, the pair at each node often somewhat unequal in size, short-petiolate, pinnately compound, usually with an even number of leaflets (lacking a terminal leaflet), the leaflets sessile or nearly so. Stipules herbaceous. Inflorescences of solitary flowers in the leaf axils, usually only 1 per node. Flowers actinomorphic, perfect, hypogynous. Calyces of 5 free sepals. Corollas of 5 free petals, these spreading to slightly cupped. Stamens 10(–12), in 2 whorls opposite the sepals and petals, the anthers usually attached toward the base, yellow. Ovary 1 per flower, superior, of 5 fused carpels, with 5 or 10 locules. Style 1 per flower, the stigma 1, club-shaped or oblong-capitate, usually somewhat 10-lobed. Ovules 1 or few per locule. Fruits schizocarps, 5–10-lobed, splitting at maturity into 5–10 mericarps, each with 1 or few seeds. About 30 genera, about 285 species, nearly worldwide, but most diverse in regions with warm arid climates.

The description above applies only to the Missouri species. Elsewhere, many members of the family are perennial herbs, shrubs, or trees with simple or bifoliate to twice compound leaves, more complex inflorescences, variously colored corollas, and/or various fruit types, among other differences.

Although some species of Kallstroemia have been noted to provide good forage for livestock (D. M. Porter, 1969a), there are abundant reports of livestock poisoning attributed to members of the family (Burrows and Tyrl, 2001), including both of the genera growing in Missouri. It is fortunate that apparently large quantities must be ingested to produce the symptoms of poisoning. Species of Kallstroemia can cause neurological problems and death in cattle, sheep, and goats. The chemical cause of the symptoms is as yet poorly understood, but indole alkaloids have been implicated as one possible group of toxins (Burrows and Tyrl, 2001). In Tribulus, in addition to neurological effects, ingestion by livestock can lead to photosensitization and liver damage, a syndrome known in veterinary medicine as “bighead” (D. M. Porter, 1969a). Again, the causes of the symptoms are not fully understood, but suggestions as potential toxins include saponins in conjunction with indole alkaloids (Burrows and Tyrl, 2001), possibly combined with the effects of selenium or nitrate accumulated in the plants from the soil (D. M. Porter, 1969a).

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